Over 500 firms apply to James Watt's Next Unicorn initiative

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Next Unicorn: more than 500 firms applied so far
Next Unicorn: more than 500 firms applied so far

Related tags Beer Brewdog Finance

More than 500 businesses have applied to BrewDog CEO James Watt’s initiative to find the next “billion-dollar company”.

In a social media post shared to Twitter today (Tuesday 18 April), Watt claimed the Next Unicorn​ investment scheme, launched on funding platform Crowdcube, has received “more than 500 amazing applications so far”.

Additionally, Watt recently announced the deadline for applications had been extended to Wednesday 19 April.

Force for good 

Speaking to Sky News, Watt said: “I know how tough it is to raise finance for a business.

“It’s a tough time economically, small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

“Job creation is so important. I wanted to put something in place that helps people on their journey to create fantastic businesses, that helps us build community focused businesses.

“It's so important that business showcases itself as a force for good.”

Seeking start-ups with the Crowdcube model, Next Unicorn allows the public to invest in firms under the same terms as Watt.

Crowdcube described Next Unicorn as a “new investment model for the 21st century”, while Watt stated it aimed to “disrupt the investment model and make way for the next high-growth businesses to thrive”.

The CEO added: “I’ve got a lot of experience and skill. I want to take everything I’ve learned in building a billion-dollar company and help someone else on their journey to do exactly the same. This is my $5m search for the next billion-dollar company.”

Companies based in the UK and Europe are eligible to apply with a short 10-slide pitch via Crowdcube.

Shortlisting will take place ahead of investment pitches to Watt and the investment committee between 28 April and 8 May in London with the winners announced in Las Vegas on 28 May 2023.

Unicorn status 

Contrarian Thinking founder Codie Sanchez and comedian Dom Joly will allegedly join the judging panel, according to recent reports.

Three winning companies will then be flown out to Las Vegas, where BrewDog launched a bar in 2022, for an all-expenses paid trip to receive their guaranteed at least £100,000 investment each.

A further investment of between £500,000 and £900,000 will then be invested across these businesses.

Watt said he is keen to back businesses that have the ability to define a market and grow to unicorn status, with the competition open to any sector. However, it will likely lean towards sectors where Watt can add additional value, based on his experience.

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