Genetic editing is only 1% finished

Bianca Sarafian
5min read

Over the past twelve months, we’ve been seriously busy here at 11:FS. Now we’re announcing arguably the most exciting project we’ve ever taken on.

11:FS identified a clear gap in the species market.


We love them. We talk about them endlessly.

But for the love of all things sparkly, where the heck are they at?

It’s Scotland’s national animal, it’s probably one of our most-used emojis, and of course the term ‘unicorn’ has been coined for privately-held startups valued at over $1 billion.

So we like - made some unicorns. Or something. We tried.

How hard can it be?

Working in a small but agile cross-functional team led by Bravid Dear (11:FS Lead Scientist), our approach was simple:

Use the aesthetics of already-existing animals to create the unicorn. Realistically, unicorns are just horses, with horns on their head and wings*. After careful brainstorming and connecting with experts in our network, the plan was clear:

  1. Find horse DNA
  2. Find DNA of a narwhal
  3. Use inter-dimensional Magic-Species-Slicey-Machine to isolate those genes and merge them
  4. Repeat but with DNA of a winged animal
  5. Unicorn


Modifying genomes to create a mythological creature is hard.

The most challenging elements were charging up the Magic-Species-Slicey-Machine (it took 62 days instead of the quoted hour) and generating the correct horn-size (narwhal horns are huge so we had to keep iterating until the animal looked less threatening, and now we have loads of horned horses).

We also, on reflection, would have approached the project slightly differently and avoided the three-step approach of Horse/Narwhal-horse/Winged-narwhal-horse to prevent the aforementioned surplus of Narwhal Horses we are now having to care for - but you know, hindsight is 20/20.

I still have no idea why you're doing this, it is both morally and legally questionable

Nasir, 11:FS General Counsel

Our surplus of Narwhal/Horse hybrids are burdensome labours of love.

Our surplus of Narwhal/Horse hybrids are burdensome labours of love.

We found out way too late that unicorns are earthbound and don’t have wings, but we think they’re cooler with wings, so that’s fine.

So as for the future of these animals, we’ll be rolling out the MLP to some of our favourite Unicorns:

Funding Circle
Oscar Health

We're very excited to receive our Unicorn from the 11:FS Team. It'll make a nice addition to the team, and provide a much more interesting mode of transport than the tube!

Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth & Communications at OakNorth

The beauty of these creatures is that there’s no need to worry about shipping them. They have wings, after all. We’ve pointed them in the general direction of the above firms and we’re confident they’ll reach their destinations… at some point.


Speaking of unicorns, by the way - we’re looking for a Talent Partner here. If you want to join our office full of (mostly proverbial) unicorns, and you have a keen eye for spotting talent, then we need to hear from you!

Take a look at our vacancy over here.

For all else, happy April Fools day. Please direct all of your “it’s after 12pm” messages to@biancdee on Twitter.