Biggest Startup Successes of 2021

Biggest Startup Successes of 2021

Not everyone suffered losses from the pandemic; here are some of the big winners of this year!

2021 has been a great year for startups. As of September, over 800 startups have reached the valuation of US$1 billion and become unicorns. Within this year, some exciting new startups have burst onto the global scene and taken center stage. 

Let’s take a look at some of the startups that have made it big this year.


One of the companies that has seen exponential growth in 2021 is the audio-based social media platform, Clubhouse. Even as early as February, the platform’s downloads grew from 3.5 million to 8 million. The platform has seen popularity, particularly because of the exclusivity attached to it. When it first started, you had to have an invitation to sign up for an account. 

Founders Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth say that the invite-only system was an important part of their early success. This system helped them grow the platform in a measured way. By July, nearly 90 million messages had been sent using the app’s direct message feature (called “Backchannel”). 


Another startup that has seen massive growth during the pandemic is the graphic design platform Canva. The platform became a dragon this year, reaching a market valuation of US$40 billion. Canva has over 60 million users in 190 countries. The company attributes its growth to changing work styles that require people to rely on collaborative platforms to work together even when they are not physically in the same space.  

Melanie Perkins, the CEO of Canva, says that they made their free version intentionally attractive, and that has, in turn, spiked their growth. She says that the free version is “critical both for our marketing and towards our mission of empowering people to design. But, as part of our marketing, it means that people are able to love the product, share it with their friends and family, and promote it on social media. And then that virality really rapidly fuels our growth.”


During the pandemic-induced lockdowns, everyone was looking for fun platforms where they could hang out with their friends, and Discord was one of the platforms that people turned to. While it was intended to be an app for gamers to interact with each other, in 2020, they rebranded themselves with the tagline “Your place to talk”

The platform has a valuation of US$15 billion as well as 150 million active users and 19 million active seekers each week as of September. Discord’s selling point is that it creates an informal environment for people to interact with. People describe it as being similar to sitting next to your friend and saying “what’s up!”. Discord’s co-founder, Stan Vishnevskiy, believes it is like “a neighborhood, or like a house where you can move between rooms.”

These are only a few of the many startups that have performed amazingly this year. Over 345 startups have reached the billion-dollar mark in 2021. This number will only grow in the coming year, as per CB insights, there will be 1000 unicorns in the world by 2022.

Header image courtesy of Freepik


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