We are pleased to announce the publication of an outstanding research article by Professor Young-Dall Lee, Soyoung Oh, and Yoni Yoon.

Their paper, titled <An Exploratory Study on the Characteristics of the ‘Global Unicorn Club’ and the Factors Influencing its Valuation: Focusing on the ‘Unicorn Club’ in 2019>, was published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship Vol.15, No.6 in December 2020.

The authors conducted a comprehensive study of the ‘Global Unicorn Club,’ which refers to companies valued at over $1 billion. Their research examines the characteristics of these companies and the factors that influence their valuation, focusing specifically on the ‘Unicorn Club’ in 2019.

Through their rigorous analysis, the authors provide valuable insights into the success factors of unicorn companies, including their business models, growth strategies, and funding sources. The paper also sheds light on the role of venture capital in the unicorn phenomenon, highlighting the importance of strategic partnerships and investments.

This research article is a significant contribution to the field of entrepreneurship and venture capital. It provides a valuable reference for entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and academics seeking to understand the key factors that drive unicorn company success. We applaud the authors for their outstanding work and their dedication to advancing the field of business venturing and entrepreneurship.

It also won the Best Paper Award during the 2021 Korean Society of Business Venturing Spring Conference at Seoul National University in April 2021.


The term ‘Unicorns’ in the corporate ecosystem was firstly introduced by Aileen Lee in 2013. It has been actively discussed in South Korea particularly to compare the level of the ‘start-up ecosystem’ from a global perspective.

Accordingly, the Korean government has recently set a policy goal ‘to nurture 20 Korean unicorn companies by 2022’.

While the phenomenon of ‘Unicorn Club Company’ has been brought to the level of policy objectives and spread more widely to the public, existing academic research to understand its substantial and underlying implications has been insufficient.

First, in this study, the characteristics of 479 ‘Unicorn Club’ companies in 2019 were analyzed in-depth. Previous research has focused on the general status and trend by analyzing the number of unicorn companies by country and industry classifications.

However, this study conducted a qualitative exploratory analysis by investigating descriptive statistics about unicorn companies, including their investors, while providing case studies. Also, cluster analysis, ANOVA, and multi-level regression were employed for quantitative exploration. The characteristics of individual companies were examined based on the “ERIS Model (Entrepreneur – Industry(Market) – Resource – Strategy Model)”.

Secondly, factors influencing its valuations were examined in connection with the previously analyzed characteristic variables and investor characteristics. Finally, based on these, the future direction of the “Unicorn Phenomenon” from the perspective of “Enterprise Ecosystem” and productively using it from the perspective of public policy is suggested.

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