Need funding? Don't know where to turn? Don't fret. You, too, can meet the right early-stage investors. A new app is here, and arrives on the New York City startup scene promising to solve these pesky startup hurdles.

It's called Unicorn.

Yes, Unicorn. To be clear, Unicorn is not a "unicorn;" on the contrary, it is brand new, and itself is operating on just $50,000 in funding. It launched in April, and is available only on iOS currently. Yes, Unicorn is entirely mobile.

Here's how it works: founders seeking an early-stage round upload a quick 15-second pitch video, then swipe through potential investors, looking for a match. Early-stage investors, too, can swipe through startups--though they must be accredited to join the platform.

Unicorn, the company, is currently using Unicorn, the app made by the company, to assemble for itself a fresh round of funding--about $300,000.

The meta nature of the arrangement isn't lost on Unicorn's chief executive, Scott Dunn. "It's like a dream within a dream," he says. "You know, funding ourselves, it's like Inception."

A few years ago, Dunn was trying to get another startup off the ground, a sneaker aggregator called Cackl. Despite living in New York City and having access to tons of tech-industry networking events, he still was having trouble meeting investors.

It dawned on him to try to build a digital matchmaking platform for early-stage companies that could get connected with the early-stage investors interested in their specific field. At the time, Dunn was working out of a WeWork coworking space, where he rounded up a dozen other startup founders who were also renting space there. They heard his pitch and liked it, so he tabled Tackl and began building Unicorn along with his two brothers.

Some investors the Dunn brothers have met with through their app have expressed skepticism of the startup's name. But Dunn only sees the upside of such criticism--a currency in itself. "Generally speaking, being a 'unicorn' is a really cool status. For anyone looking to get into tech it's a holy grail," says Scott. When asked whether the term might be considered passé, he shrugged. "It could. I don't mind controversy though. That's a great thing! Some investors say, 'it's a tough time to be a unicorn.' All the better!"

Published on: Aug 18, 2016