Unicorns in waiting: 5 Fintech startups to watch

| 5 minutes

The pace of innovation is just one of the many reasons we love working in Fintech; yesterday’s idea can quickly turn into the billion-dollar unicorn of tomorrow. 

There are already more than 300 Fintech unicorns, with four new companies making the cut this year and three previously public companies rejoining the list. With a combined value of $1.55 trillion and counting, there’s no doubt that these giants will continue to shape the Fintech industry.

But who will be next to join their exclusive club? Here’s the top five unicorns-in-waiting that we have our eyes on. 


Founded in 2017, this software startup has rapidly emerged as a key player in Fintech. 

On a mission to streamline the exchange of financial data between small businesses and financial institutions, Codat has experienced exponential growth. In just six years, their client base has grown to over 10,000 businesses worldwide. 

Fueled by substantial funding, they’ve secured a total of $176.8 million from big names including JP Morgan Growth Equity Partners and Shopify which they’ve invested in enhancing their platform and hiring top talent. 

As they continue to scale, Codat is perfectly poised to revolutionise how businesses interact with their financial data and become a business must-have. 

Clarity AI

Another 2017 startup, Clarity AI leads the way when it comes to sustainable finance. 

Their values-led approach has clients and investors queuing out the door. They’ve secured over $80 million in funding, enabling the company to expand its operations, develop cutting-edge technology, and attract top-notch talent. 

This year, their valuation has skyrocketed to an impressive $450 million. It’s a valuation that’s only set to rise alongside demand for ESG-driven solutions and a more responsible, ethical financial landscape.


SentiLink, an innovative identity verification startup, has rapidly established itself as a leading player in the cybersecurity industry. 

Since 2016, it’s attracted widespread attention earning a place on Forbes’ Fintech 50 list and achieving a valuation of $430 million

Their technology that enables businesses and financial institutions to detect and prevent fraud has been widely adopted. Securing over $85 million in funding, their 300 customers include other major Fintech players and seven of the US’s 15 largest banks. 

As companies look to stay compliant and protect revenue through proactive risk management, we predict it won’t be long before SentiLink become a unicorn. 


What happens when a former EY director focused on lending and credit analytics and the Global Head of Digital Lending at McKinsey team up? Abound. 

The dynamic duo set about to revolutionise the way individuals access financial assistance with a little help from AI. Focusing on inclusion and responsible lending, Abound wanted to deliver a user-friendly interface with transparent lending options. 

Hugely successful in terms of funding, they recently raised over £500 million which will be used to develop their B2B capabilities and grow their headcount. 

Founders Dr Michelle He and Gerald Chappell predict their balance sheet will hit the $1 billion mark by 2025, but we think these two have the potential to exceed even their own expectations.  


Calling Gen Z, your personal financial assistant is here: meet Cleo. Jargon free and powered by AI, this increasingly popular app enables users to take control of their personal finances and make more informed financial decisions.

Named one of the best money saving apps of 2023 by the Metro, the Cleo team have already secured $137.5 million in investments, $80 million of which was in June this year, which they plan to use to grow their team by almost 60%

With their valuation now sitting at the $500 million mark – five times their 2020 valuation and huge potential for B2B integrations, Cleo is set to become the go-to money management tool of the digital banking age. 

Creating unicorns

Achieving this kind of growth doesn’t happen on its own – it needs a great team, and having the right sales leaders in place is a critical hire for any Fintech startup. 

We’re incredibly proud of the role Finiti Search has played in finding the right people to take startups from ideas to unicorns-in-waiting and love watching business grow into household names. 

If you’re looking for the perfect person for an open role or want to chat more about shaping your future sales team, get in touch to find out more about Finiti Search and our talent network and unique approach.

Happy 10th birthday unicorns! What we’ve learnt from a decade of raising unicorns

| 5 minutes

You know what they say: they’re all grown up before you know it! 2023 marks a decade of the so-called unicorn startups.  Rare and valuable, achieving “unicorn” status is a start-up dream-come-true for founders and investors alike. But the unicorns of 2023 are starting to look a little different to their mythical friends from previous years. 

What is a unicorn? 

Venture capitalist and founder of Cowboy Ventures, Aileen Lee created the term in 2013 to describe billion-dollar software companies. 

Some believe the term only applies to startups, whilst others pin it down more, defining unicorns as VC-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more. 

Companies lose their unicorn status if their valuation drops below $1 billion or they no longer need VC backing due to being acquired or going public. 

How common are unicorns? 

According to PitchBook’s Unicorn bible, there are currently 1323 active unicorns globally, a huge increase from the 39 startups that met Lee’s criteria back in 2013.  

Some of the best known and most valuable include Chinese sensation ByteDance, Stripe, and the now infamous OpenAI

Are they endangered?

Despite the huge increase in billion-dollar valuations over the last ten years, unicorns are starting to become more rare again. 

Companies achieving unicorn status hit a peak in 2021 when 606 startups proudly donned their shiny white coats and placed glittery single horns on their heads. 

That number dropped by 42% YOY with only 349 unicorns crowned in 2022. Now halfway through 2023, only 44 startups have achieved that billion-dollar valuation.

Where can I find a unicorn? 

Much like in Fintech, the US is the place to go if you’re looking for unicorns; just over half (695 companies) call the US home. 

China has around a third of that number (265), with India (66), the UK (45) and Germany (27) below the 100 unicorn threshold. 

But don’t saddle up and head for the US just yet. In 2023’s class of unicorns, less than half are in North America (48%), with the percentage of unicorns in Asia growing to 32%, up from around 20% in 2022. 

What does my unicorn do all day? 

This year’s unicorns are also a little different when it comes to how they make their billions. 

In the 2021 peak, the top industries for unicorns were IT, healthcare and consumer-facing products and services. 

Whilst IT remains first past the post, B2B and energy focused businesses have climbed up the tables, taking second and third place respectively. 

The next decade of unicorns 

In the current economic climate, funding is harder to come by and investors are more wary. 

Startup valuations reflect this. In Q1 2023, only 71% managed to achieve a higher valuation than previous rounds, with almost one in five experiencing a “downround”.  

Unicorns are becoming rarer, and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue. But that might not be a bad thing. Unicorns are supposed to be rare. They’re the magical exception to the tough reality of startups. 

Being less focused on racing to the billion-dollar valuation might just give some promising startups the room they need to breathe, reflect, and to build a sustainable business that’s a trusty steed rather than a glamorous myth.

Need your next jockey? 

Whether you’re at the billion-dollar mark or fresh out of the stable, we focus exclusively on putting the right sales team in place to grow your Fintech business. If you’d like to find out more about sales roles in the start-up sector, we’d love to hear from you. And if your business is growing in this industry and is looking to attract some great talent, we think Finiti Search can help. 

Get in touch to find out more about how we can help – no more horse puns, we promise.

Dream job or risky nightmare: How to assess whether that startup leadership role is too much of a risk

| 4 minutes

When you’re a C-suite leader looking for your next challenge, there’s only a small pool of top roles to consider. It’s a shrinking pool too, with the number of CEO roles in the US alone declining by 19% over the past ten years. 

For those in the traditional finance sector, economic instability has led to even fewer options with the number of banking sector employees decreasing for the first time since 2020

With fewer opportunities at familiar names, many C-suite finance leaders are considering making the leap into Fintech and joining a startup. 

The idea of leading a company from rookie to household name is a big pull, but how can you assess whether a startup leadership role is a great opportunity or a huge risk? 

Startup survival odds 

Recent research has put startup failure rates as high as 90%

There’s a common misconception that most fail in the first year, but that only accounts for 1 in 10 failures. Most fledgling businesses fail between years two and five

When researching a potential startup employer, look at how long the business has been operating to get an idea of whether the risk level is at its peak. 

Money, money, money

Understanding how much funding a startup has is key to evaluating the risk. In the UK, 38% of startups fail simply because they run out of cash. 

Websites like Crunchbase and Pitchbook are great for getting an understanding of how much funding an organisation has secured and when. 

Estimate the runway

The amount of funding is only half the story. What may seem like a great level of investment won’t offset the risk for a very cost-heavy business. 

In the startup world, firms often talk about their “runway”: their burn rate minus revenue. 

You won’t be able to calculate this precisely as an outsider, but when you’re researching the company, think about whether it’s a cost-heavy business model and the size of the team. 

Though Fintech startups often have low-cost setup costs, team costs can spiral. Payroll is one of the biggest startup expenses; as a rough guide, payroll costs average $300,500 per five employees in the US. 

Who’s got their back

As well as how much funding they have and how they’re spending it, look into who their investors are. 

More than one investor is reassuring as it reduces dependency and is a positive reflection on the business’s potential. 

Seeing major VCs listed as investors is also a good indication that the business is stable and going in the right direction. 

Meet the team 

In a small business, everyone’s actions influence the company’s success and direction – positively or negatively.

The most important piece of due diligence you can do is to look into the team currently running the business. 

Use LinkedIn to get a feel for whether current business leaders are operating in their area of expertise and whether they’ve had previous successful ventures. 

High team turnover can also be visible on LinkedIn and is an important red flag to consider. 

Further down the recruitment process, be sure to spend time with the founder(s) to get a feel for how involved they are in the day-to-day running of the business and whether they’re someone you could work with. 

Taking the plunge 

Even a well-funded startup led by a great team can go bust, but in today’s uncertain markets, the risk of redundancy is unfortunately just as real in established financial institutions

Leadership roles at startups offer pace, stretch, and the ability to really see the impact of your decisions – your leadership – on the company’s success. 

If you’re interested in leadership roles with some of the most exciting new names in Fintech, get in touch to tell us a bit more about yourself and take the first step to finding that dream startup role.