A “Zebra Company” meaning in Startups – Definition

If you are interested even slightly in technology, you should have already heard the term startup unicorns. If you are really interested in startups you possibly have heard the term cockroach startup. But unless you are an investor, it is improbable that you have heard the term zebra company or zebra startup.

And yes, we are all having the same reflection, what’s up with these startups and these animal names … and what would be next? Horse startup, frog startup, wolf startup, fish startup, ostrich startup ? Who knows ….

Back to our topic…

What is a Zebra company / startup ?

Zebra startup or zebra company is a term supposedly coined by Zebra Unite in 2017. It is presented in a way as a contrast to unicorns. As a down to earth real animal not fictional. Zebra being both ‘black and white’, zebra companies are expected to do good while also being profitable for investors to invest in. Zebra companies are like non profits, having an altruistic cause, but are actually making profit.

To define a zebra startup in 1 sentence: It is a for profit and for a cause.

Some clarifications:

Is a zebra company a non profit ?
No, it is not, it is actually for profit, doing good and making money.
None profit gives free soup to homeless people, while a zebra company can buy cheap grocery and resell with a slight profit to poor communities.
None profit give tents to homeless people, while a zebra company can find ways to help homeless people to integrate society again, and charge the city an amount for every success.

Advantages of a zebra company over non profit organisations.
Instead of always trying to raise funds, to cover the operations costs of the organisation, a zebra generates it’s own funds.

A zebra company have shares?
As mentioned above, a zebra company is a company with a cause, thus it has shares and legally is like any other for profit company.

Do zebra startups raise capital from investors?
Like other startups, zebra startups do raise capital from the traditional startup investors, like VCs and Angel investors.

Wouldn’t zebra companies abuse the trust?
Like anything in life, you have the good and the bad. Surely some will take advantage, launching zebra companies for personal enrichment, but generally speaking, the same can be said about non profits.

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Abdallah Alaili

I'm a serial entrepreneur (mostly tech) and micro-investor (tiny), this is a blog to learn from other entrepreneurs and spread the wisdom to many more. You can find me on: Instagram - Twitter - Linkedin - more about me