top of page
  • Writer's pictureSricharan Sanakkayala

The Next Big Unicorns

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Sricharan Sanakkayala gives an overview of three of the most promising companies from Forbes 2020 Next-Billion-Dollar Startups list.

This past decade has had the highest increase in the number of startups ever. With markets getting more and more competitive, the prospect of the next Billion dollar company is always exciting. For the sixth year in a row, Forbes and TrueBridge Capital Partners have collaborated to create the newest edition of Next Billion-Dollar Startups. While TrueBridge surveyed 300 venture capital firms to nominate the most promising startups of the USA, Forbes has directly interacted with over 140 of them and analyzed the companies further. The result is a list of 25 startups that have received the coveted title as one of the Next Billion-Dollar Startups. This article will be presenting three of the most innovative startups from the list of the Next Billion-Dollar Startups.


Benchling is a BioTech R&D Software company. It offers cloud-based solutions to help accelerate life science research. CEO Sajith Wickramasekara was an electrical engineering and computer science student at MIT when he realized how difficult it is to use adequate software to help with his biology research work. That is when he imagined the idea for a Cripsr-on-the-cloud prototype to help improve the productivity of researchers on their main task - research. Since then he has been working to perfect Benchling’s services for scientists, who he claims are some of the most skeptical customers in the world. Benchling has raised $114 Million so far and has an estimated revenue of $21 Million in 2019. Currently, it has a valuation past $835 million even during a pandemic that has hazily impacted the progress of research around the world.

Benchling is the perfect example of the trend of the ultra-specialized nature of successful startups in the 2010s. They are tackling a specific problem for a specific group of people. This helps companies lead markets as a pioneer in their craft, and they quickly grow from that recognition. The next company also targets a particular problem on a larger scale.


When the wildfires in 2017 devastated the homes of Jack Abraham and Nikki Pechet in Napa, California, they decided to rebuild. However, their unfortunate situation has helped them see an untapped market. With construction as one of America’s riskiest markets due to its barriers to scale, Abraham and Pechet decided to take on the challenge and help other troubled homeowners rebuild with their company Homebound. Since most insurance policies help cover up to four times the value of the house, there is no reason to not-start rebuilding quickly. Homebound handles everything from negotiating with contractors to modeling and construction while homeowners are on their phone designing their dream house and watching as the 379 unique tasks to home-rebuilding are being ticked off. The company says it can save customers up to 12 months of work and estimates a project’s completion to be 9-18 months (compared to the industry standard of 18-40 months). Homebound’s model relies on an undisclosed commission on their project. Their estimated 1st-year revenue for 2018-19 was $10 Million. Currently, the company is valued at $210 million and has raised $73 million in investments in the past 3 years.

Homebound is quickly expanding in its specific untapped market. Although it has yet to achieve the coveted unicorn status by securing a valuation of over $1 billion, it is getting there fast. However, Homebound has a lurking weakness. As it continues to build its empire, it will sign contracts. However, if Homebound is not careful with writing the terms and enforcing them properly, it may have tremendous losses. The next member of the list solves that exact problem.


As Ironclad claims, contracts are the atomic units of business. Even in the 21st century, companies use the centuries-old method to negotiate terms of cooperation. CEO Jason Boehmig and Cai GoGwilt have brought their respective expertise as a lawyer and a software engineer (from Palantir Technologies) to simplify the process of contract making in the most innovative way possible. They understand the inefficiencies in the current contracting methods, such as the time taken to create them and the unintentional abstractions that it creates. Together they have built a company that pioneers the industry with their Ironclad Editor- the only Microsoft-native contracting software available-, Smart Import - the most powerful AI-based metadata extractor-, and contract data and intelligence. So far, their capabilities have earned them $183 million in investments and a $950 million valuation.

Ironclad innovatively tackles the operating system of businesses, so their valuation comes as no surprise. In addition, one of their biggest prospects is their technology. The AI used in their platforms can be integrated with newly developing technologies such as the GPT-3 to create a system with the business knowledge and the writing capacity to craft eloquent contracts on demand. Only time will tell what Ironclad will be doing next.

Benchling, Homebound, and Ironclad are some of the most innovative startups in America. They represent the future with their ultra-specialized focus on a specific aspect of their respective industries. Their journeys as they fulfill their prophecies of the Next Billion-Dollar Startups will not only change the world but also mark the direction of the next wave of innovation across the world.

The UCL Finance and Technology Review (UCL FTR) is the official publication of the UCL FinTech Society. We aim to publish opinions from the student body and industry experts with accuracy and journalistic integrity. While every care is taken to ensure that the information posted on this publication is correct, UCL FTR can accept no liability for any consequential loss or damage arising as a result of using the information printed. Opinions expressed in individual articles do not necessarily represent the views of the editorial team, society, Students’ Union UCL or University College London. This applies to all content posted on the UCL FTR website and related social media pages.


bottom of page