I’m proud to be Unicorn-Free


Who doesn’t love a unicorn?

Unicorns are magic. Unicorns eat moonbeams and shit rainbows. Unicorns are ice cream and bacon, all rolled into one.

Mmmm, bacon ice cream.

Unicorns: like Santa Claus, with hooves

There’s just one catch: Unicorns don’t exist.

And, honestly, they’re not that exciting.

A beautiful horse with magical properties? Oh god! Stop the presses! Such wonder! Such creativity!

…Or not. People saw horses all the time, even white horses with flowing manes and majestic heads. And it’s not as if no other horse-like creatures have horns. (Goats and deer, baby, goats and deer.)

It’s quite another thing entirely to imagine a warm-blooded, rubber-skinned mammal of the sea, who lives under 5 meters of ice, with a giant spiral tooth sticking out of its head. A horn that’s almost as long as its body.

Some narwhals even have two horns! And they use them to joust!

I mean, hot damn! How awesome is that?


Real narwhals are awesomer than fake unicorns

Narwhals beat unicorns hands-down in the creativity department. They don’t come with bacon ice cream, but you can make your own.

Oh yeah, and narwhals are real. Which means they win.

You can’t monetize glitter and rainbows, even if they do come from a unicorn’s butt

The past year and a half, I’ve been building up my own product business. It’s felt like I’ve been working in a void. There’s barely a thing out there for a single designer or developer who wants to create her own real, but tiny, business. Ditto for small teams that like the freedom that smallness gives them.

The discussion always seems to revolve around funding, or getting acquired, and retiring.

Or growth. Or hiring. Or tech tricks. Or it’s about affiliates and IM products, and getting rich off teaching people’s parrots to talk.

Or it’s about hyper-optimization, and split-testing which way you should orient the toilet paper roll. (The answer is over, not under, by the way.)

Or everyone in the group agrees that they are working on the next big breakthrough, when really they’re just building a social network for dogs.

Unicorns, every one of them.

What’s out there now is serious where it should be lighthearted, and glib where it should be serious. To my mind, the most important topics of all go unacknowledged entirely.

I come to slay the unicorn

I am a believer in small, creative, flexible businesses. I’m an even bigger believer in creative people doin’ for themselves, making their own products and working directly with their customers, the people whose lives they can touch.

I think these tiny businesses foster happiness, and forge superior products, and better relationships.

That’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing, for myself, and why I want to help you do it, too.

So I can’t look at this gaping void in the conversation, leave it void-like.

And thus, Unicorn Free was born.

I hope you’ll join me.

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  1. Randy Schmidt

    YES! I have been very grumpy lately about these very things but somewhat scared to speak up about them lest people not like me for being negative. I really just want to build a sustainable business and enjoy what I am doing. It seems like the “startup” community is becoming a parody of itself. Raising money, acquisitions, hiring people, etc are celebrated while the product and actual revenue is not. I guess people see raising a lot of money as validation of their idea but it is validation from the wrong people. I would see revenue as the correct validation of an idea because then you know your customers think what you are building is valuable.

    OK, rant over. I think I am going to enjoy this blog. Best of luck to you!

  2. elliottcable

    I saw this, and got very, very confused: Why does Amy Hoy hate Unicorn?

    Turns out you just jacked the Unicorn logo for a post that has nothing to do with Unicorn, whatsoever. :3

    For future reference of everybody else visiting this page, it’s unrelated to http://unicorn.bogomips.org/ ;D

  3. WordPressGuru

    Totally awesome. Best blog post in a long time with a lot of great points. I ended up here throw the yeyQuery podcast, and as they said, ‘maybe they should change there mascot’.



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