top of page

Embracing the Zebras: A Fresh Approach to Business

Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs embark on their business journey, bringing a diverse range of innovative products and services to the market. We have all been fascinated by the rise of start-ups, especially those worth $1 billion or more, often referred to as 'unicorns'.

According to this Hubspot article, as of last year (2022), 900 companies had already managed to become unicorns. Impressive, isn't it?

But we should not forget a new breed of startup that has arrived in town: the zebras.

What exactly are zebras and how do they differ from unicorns? We will find out in the following article.

The Zebras: Balancing Purpose and Profit

Zebras represent a compelling paradigm shift in the realm of startups. Coined by entrepreneurs Jennifer Brandel, Mara Zepeda, Astrid Scholz and Aniyia Williams in 2017, the “zebras” embody a unique black and white blend of purpose and profit, marking a departure from the profit-centric focus that often characterizes unicorn ventures. While unicorns ardently chase after sky-high valuations, zebras navigate the entrepreneurial landscape with a different set of priorities.

They're all about creating value for society while ensuring sustainable growth. They prioritize not only profitability but also the well-being of the community and the environment. These startups are driven by the belief that genuine success extends beyond mere profit margins.

But what truly sets zebras apart from their unicorn counterparts? How do they approach the world of business, and what can we learn from their distinctive philosophy?

Spotting the Differences

Let's break down the key differences between unicorns and zebras:

Difference between Zebras and Unicorns startups
Difference between Zebras and Unicorns





Purpose-driven and value-centric.

Growth-centric and profit-focused.

Time Horizons

Long-term sustainability.

Short-term scalability.

Impact Focus

Prioritizes societal good.

May or may not emphasize social impact.

Investment Model

Requires patient capital.

Often seeks short-term, high returns.


Built to endure crises.

Vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Growth Pace

Gradual and steady.

Rapid and aggressive.

Bridging the Gap

It's important to note that zebras are not here to replace unicorns but to complement them, creating a more diverse and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. The emergence of zebras suggests a shift in the mindset of investors, who are beginning to appreciate the value of long-term, purpose-driven investments.

Zebras offer a refreshing approach to business as they are the definition of adaptability and resilience, qualities that are increasingly important for navigating the turbulent seas of the business world.

What's your take on the rise of zebras in the entrepreneurial arena? Do you believe the business world is ready to embrace this paradigm that seamlessly merges purpose and profit? Your insights and perspectives are valuable to us.

The zebras are here, and the future of business is looking more colorful and diverse than ever. It's an exciting time to be part of this ever-evolving entrepreneurial world.

If you found this interesting and want to know more, here are some interesting articles about zebras:

30 views0 comments


bottom of page