Future goliath

Austin startup poised to join elite group of ‘unicorn’ companies worth $1 billion

Austin startup may join elite group of ‘unicorn’ companies worth $1B

Shipwell logo
Shipwell is about to hit a major financial milestone. Shipwell/Facebook

An Austin startup is poised to enter the elite ranks of companies valued at $1 billion or more. A list published May 28 by Forbes identifies Shipwell, whose platform helps businesses manage shipping logistics, as a future “unicorn.”

In the business world, a unicorn is a privately owned company worth at least $1 billion. In all, Forbes highlighted 25 fast-growing venture-backed startups that are likely to reach that landmark valuation.

Since its founding in 2016 by Gregory Price and Jason Traff, Shipwell has raised more than $47 million in outside funding. That includes a $35 million haul announced in October 2019. Forbes estimates Shipwell’s 2019 revenue at $30 million, generated from more than 4,000 customers.

“Shipwell is in an incredibly unique position to provide mass optimization and automation to all modes of shipping,” says Tyson Baber, a partner at Georgian Partners, one of the startup’s investors.

In March, Forbes and market research company Statista named Shipwell one of the country’s 50 best startup employers.

Shipwell is Price’s second startup and Traff’s third.

“There are many challenges when starting a company from scratch. In fact, all of the odds are against you: no customers, no team, no funds, and a product or service vision that is likely on a larger [company’s] roadmap,” the co-founders wrote in an October 2019 blog post. “Many first-time entrepreneurs fail from one of these challenges, while suffering from a lack of product market fit, wrong timing, or a failure to launch.”

As of May 29, more than 470 companies around the world qualified as unicorns, according to CB Insights, a provider of data about startups. Among them are recognizable brands like Airbnb, DoorDash, Nextdoor, SpaceX, 23andMe, and Warby Parker.

Two Austin companies also show up on the list of current unicorns — RigUp, which operates a marketplace for energy employers that are seeking on-demand labor, and Kendra Scott, the jewelry purveyor. RigUp is valued at $1.9 billion, according to CB Insights, and Kendra Scott is valued at $1 billion.