Goats, bugs, thrown laptops … all part of a unicorn hunt

BREWDOG CEO James Watt is on the hunt for the next unicorn — and he’ll be investing up to £5m of his own money in three businesses.

Pitching is already taking place, leading up to a grand final in Las Vegas. The three winners will be announced “in the heart of Sin City, on the rooftop terrace in The Strip”, for reasons unknown — the competition is for EU and UK firms — and Watt says he’s enjoying his task so far.

“There have been some weird and wonderful pitches this week,” he said. “We’ve had goats, laptops thrown from balconies, eaten loads of bugs, eaten meat snacks, pitches that were long and pitches that were concise. Overall, the standard has been fantastic.

“I’m a huge business geek. It’s what I’m most passionate about, and I want to take everything I’ve learned from building a unicorn and help other companies, other founders, do exactly the same thing.

“The final five companies are going to come to Vegas,” he said. Watt says he’s “excited to write them all a cheque”, but also to help entrepreneurs with his time and input.

The people behind the ideas are as important as the idea itself, he believes. “For me, it’s probably 25 percent idea, 75 percent people… I’m looking for a product that is innovative, disruptive, and different. But I’m looking for people with tenacity, resilience and just a huge amount of passion for what they are trying to do.”

Being a founder or a CEO is tough, he warns, “and it’s lonely”. “Hopefully, (I can) help them avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that I’ve made along the way.”

Over 750 companies have applied; 20 will be shortlisted.

More information: https://www.crowdcube.com/explore/the-next-unicorn-finalists