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How to Spot Fast-Growing Startups: A Guide

6 MIN READ | 2022-03-29

How to Spot Fast-Growing Startups: A Guide

You are looking for a startup, but you want to make an informed decision before making the final decision. So how do you find fast-growing companies? What are some indicators of success? Which companies in the Netherlands are on the road to becoming unicorns?

These are some of the questions that this article will answer. Knowing what to look for can determine whether a startup is worth investing time and energy in.

Unicorn Companies

Did you know? There are now over 1,000 unicorns globally (as of March 2022), which is a significant increase from 2015, when there were only 80.


What is a unicorn?

In the startup world, a unicorn is a company that has achieved over USD 1 billion valuation. These companies are rare, and most startups will never achieve this level of success. However, if you can identify a fast-growing startup early on, there is a chance that it could become a unicorn.


Which companies could potentially become unicorns? 

Companies with the potential to become unicorns are usually fast-growing startups that have received significant funding. They typically have a strong growth signal, and their valuation is often high. However, there is no guaranteed path to becoming a unicorn, and many startups will never reach this level of success.

In general, the critical criteria for becoming a unicorn are:

  • Growth velocity & potential
  • Amount of funds raised
  • Growth in employee numbers
  • Geographical distribution
  • Ability to have a positive impact on society


The number of scale-ups that had sustainability actions at the heart of their operations met these standards, resulting in a rather interesting pattern for unicorns that made it on the list this year.

More than 40% of the companies incorporate sustainability in their business model or are sustainable. Whether it's commitments to net-zero carbon emissions, intelligent waste reduction strategies, utilising recycled materials in items, or lowering overall energy usage, one thing is for sure: the future of our planet is at the top of the mind for many of these scaleups.


Dutch unicorns

Given that just 69 of the 1000 unicorns in the world come from Europe, it's remarkable that the Netherlands is home to some of these unicorns.

As of March 2022, the Dutch unicorns are the following:


Valuation ($B)














Mobile & telecommunications












E-commerce & direct-to-customer

How to find fast-growing companies

Fast-growing companies have specific indicators that set them apart from their competitors. These indicators that mark their success are key metrics that sometimes require thorough research to track down.

Luckily, Techleap has a solution that will do the heavy lifting for you. You can explore the Dutch startup ecosystem using the Finder and get exclusive updates & insights on a daily basis!

Once you sign up for free, you get immediate access to a list of all startups in the Netherlands with detailed statistics that can be used as indicators for success. So which ones are these again?

Indicators for success

A few critical indicators can tell you if a startup is doing well and growing. So let's find out which ones those are.


Growth Signal

A growth signal is an indicator of a company's future success. It is usually measured by user or revenue growth. A high growth signal usually means that a company is growing quickly, which is often a sign of success.

There are three things to consider when measuring a company's growth signal:

  • Size of the market
  • Rate of growth
  • Sustainability of the growth


The market size is important because it determines how big the company can grow. The growth rate is crucial because it shows how quickly the company is currently growing. And finally, the sustainability of the growth is essential because it reveals whether the company can maintain its high growth rate.

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Launch Date

The launch date is the date on which the company was founded. A company founded many years ago is usually not considered a startup anymore. Therefore, a company founded recently is more likely to be a startup that is going rapidly.  ​​

One way to find fast-growing startups is to look for companies founded in the last five years.

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A startup's valuation is the amount of money a company has raised from investors. A high valuation usually indicates that a company is doing well and is growing quickly.

Another way to find fast-growing startups is to look for companies with a high valuation.

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VC funding is short for venture capital funding. This is money that is invested in startups by venture capitalists. It is often used to finance the early stages of its development.

Look for companies that have raised a lot of money from venture capitalists as an indicator for fast growth.

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Last Round

The last round refers to the most recent round of funding that a company has raised. A large final round usually indicates that a company is doing well and is growing quickly.

Look for companies that have raised a lot of money in their last round of funding.

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No. of Job Openings

The number of employees is another way to measure a company's growth. A company that is hiring many new employees is probably growing quickly. 

Look for companies that have more than 10 job openings, for example.

Techleap Job Board

Growth Stage

The growth stage is the stage of a company's development. A company in the early stages of development is more likely to be a fast-growing startup than a company in its later stages. This is because it’s easier to grow fast in the beginning and reach exponential growth if you're starting at 0, than if you're already at 95, for example.

Look for companies in the early stages of their development.

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The location of a company can also indicate its growth potential. For example, a company located in a city with a ton of startup activity is more likely to be a fast-growing startup than a company located in a town with little or no startup activity.

One way to find fast-growing startups is to look for companies in startup hubs such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam.

Techleap Job Board


Fast-growing companies are an essential part of the economy. They create jobs and spur innovation. If you're looking for a fast-growing company, you should look for startups in the early stages of their development, located in startup hubs that have received significant funding. There is no guarantee that a company will become a unicorn, but if you can identify a rising star early on, you may be able to ride the wave of success.

You can also look for sustainable companies that positively impact society. These companies are often at the forefront of innovation and are making a true difference. The Netherlands is home to several unicorns, so you should consider looking at Dutch startups if you're looking for a fast-growing company.