The 15 hottest startups that launched in 2015
The 15 hottest startups that launched in 2015
They may be only months old, but these startups changed technology in 2015.
Take live-streaming app Periscope.
It was acquired before even launching to the public, then capped off the year being named Apple's iPhone app of the year. Meanwhile, Jet had a splashy debut that aimed to chip away at Amazon's ecommerce empire.
We narrowed down the list of startups which launched this year to 25, and to determine the best, we took into account factors like funding, revenue, growth, and investor interest. We're including startups that came out of stealth or opened to the public as launching this year as well.
Did we miss a great startup that launched this year? Let us know in the comments!
Hungryroot turns vegetables into bright and delicious pasta dishes.
What it is: Former Groupon exec Ben McKean launched Hungryroot to turn veggies into amazing pasta dishes. When you order from Hungryroot, you get a packaged meal the next day that consists of 70% to 80% vegetables and 20% protein. The base ingredient is vegetable noodles — made from sweet potatoes, radishes, beets, zucchinis, and more — paired with a creative sauce, and served with an optional protein side. In its first month, Hungryroot sold 10,000 meals.
Funding: $2 million from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and KarpReilly
Periscope is the video livestreaming app Twitter bought before it even launched.
What it is: In March, Twitter launched Periscope, a livestreaming app it acquired back in February before Periscope even launched. Periscope lets users easily stream video footage from their devices to followers. Viewers can comment and send "hearts" to the streamer. The footage can be then replayed later, which sets it apart from rival app Meerkat, where the footage is gone once the stream is over.
Funding: None announced.
The League is a dating app for the elite.
What it is: The League — a selective dating app for elite, successful individuals — launched in San Francisco earlier this year, and it just launched in New York City. Stanford graduate Amanda Bradford founded The League to match up highly motivated and interesting single professionals. Its users often have advanced degrees.
Funding: $2.1 million seed round from Jon Vlassopulos, IDG Ventures USA, Roman Feola, Naomi Gleit, Cowboy Ventures, XSeed Capital, Peter Kelly, Russ Siegelman, Mark Leslie, Allen DeBevoise, SherpaVentures, Structure Capital
Gogoro is building the "Tesla of scooters."
What it is: Gogoro launched this year after working in stealth mode since 2011. The company debuted its first product at this year's Consumer Electronics Show: a smart, plug-free electric scooter. The scooter is powered by a portable battery that you will be able to swap out at Gogoro stations across major cities, according to the company. Gogoro's scooter is best for commuting and short trips: its scooters go up to 60 miles per hour, and you can get about 100 miles out of a charge. The Gogoro system connects to the cloud via a cellular network and provides onboard diagnostics through a connected smartphone app.
Funding: $300 million; investors include Dr. Yin and Cher Wang of HTC
Ride wants to make your commute cheaper, easier and better for the environment.
What it is: Oscar Salazar, Uber's founding CTO and third cofounder alongside Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, launched Ride earlier this year to make commuting less of a hassle. Ride is focused solely on commuters and carpooling and it wants to create efficiency there, particularly in places where public transportation is not readily available. It works by matching a company's employees — people who likely have their own cars but want to save money by riding together — with coworkers who share similar commutes.
Funding: None announced.
Honor pairs up seniors who want to stay in their homes with caretakers.
What it is: Honor matches seniors with professionals who can take care of them in their homes while giving concerned family members a way to keep track of everything. Unlike on-demand services like Uber and Lyft that let people accept jobs right away, Honor wants its home-care professionals, who start at $15 an hour, to foster long-lasting relationships with seniors. Honor tries to teach them what to expect and pair them up with seniors with whom they can work well. For example, a senior who speaks Mandarin Chinese can opt to match with a home-care professional who also speaks Mandarin.
Funding: $20 million from Kevin Colleran, Slow Ventures, Homebrew, Jessica Alba, Jeremy Stoppelman, Max Levchin, Kapor Capital, Andreessen Horowitz
Eero has a solution for your Wi-Fi woes.
What it is: There's nothing worse than having choppy Wi-Fi throughout your apartment. That's the problem Eero is trying to solve. Eero's devices are little white pods that use Bluetooth and mesh networking to connect and extend the Wi-Fi in your home. When you buy three — that's how many Eero says a typical home needs — you'll connect the first to your modem, and the others get plugged in to power outlets. The devices connect to one another through internal radios. Eero's devices are available for preorder now — you can get one for $199 or three for $499. Its devices are slated to ship by February 2016.
Funding: Eero has raised over $40M from AME Cloud Ventures, Initialized Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Homebrew, Menlo Ventures, First Round, Playground Global, Redpoint Ventures and Shasta Venture
Even offers credit to help make ends meet between paychecks.
What it is: Even is a smartphone app that's meant to help low-income employees with uneven income streams manage from paycheck to paycheck. While a lot of Silicon Valley tech startups target the rich, Even caters to people with bad credit, or people who have an hourly job and unpredictable hours, by giving them credit to help them when they're having a rough week. They pay a flat fee rather than interest. Even works with a user's bank account, charging $5 a week to give users a steady paycheck for the same amount of money every week — even if they get a lot of hours one week and fewer the next. Users can take advantage of features including emergency expenses and automatic budgeting. There's also a pause button, which stops payments, for users who are facing financial difficulty.
Funding: $1.5 million from Andrew Kortina, Joe Ziemer, Red Swan Ventures, Slow Ventures, Sam Lessin, Adam Rothenberg, David Tisch, L. Michelle Wilson, Mike Krieger, Kevin Systrom, Homebrew, Keith Rabois
Jet.com is a buzzy e-commerce startup that's taking on Amazon.
What it is: Marc Lore, the former CEO of Quidsi, has been working on a mysterious e-commerce startup that wants to take on Amazon. This year, Jet.com launched in beta, backed by investors including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, for 10,000 "insiders." The site promises to offer prices that are 10%-to-15% lower than anywhere else, including Amazon. Jet initially asked users to pay a $50 membership fee, but dropped the fee in October.
Funding: $225 million from David Spector, Primary Venture Partners, MentorTech Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Silicon Valley Bank, Western Technology Investment, Citi Ventures, Thrive Capital, Temasek Holdings, Norwest Venture Partners, Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs, General Catalyst Partners, Coatue Management, Alibaba
M.Gemi is the Warby Parker of gorgeous Italian shoes.
What it is: Founded by Ben Fischman, the founder of flash-sales fashion website Ruelala, M.Gemi wants to make beautiful, hand-crafted Italian shoes more affordable for people around the world. Shoes made in Italian factories cost between $500 and $2,000, whereas M.Gemi's — which are sold straight from small, Italian shoe factories to consumers — run between $98 and $300. M.Gemi is also capitalizing on fast fashion: it only takes the M.Gemi team 60 to 90 days to get a show from concept to retail online.
Funding: $14 million from Breakaway Innovation Group, Forerunner Ventures, General Catalyst Partners
Meerkat is a livestreaming app that people at SXSW went crazy for this year.
What it is: Meerkat is a new livestreaming app that syncs up with Twitter to let you live stream and share video in real time. The app quickly became a favorite of Product Hunt users several weeks after it was posted to the startup and app discovery website. It was a hit at SXSW as well. Sources tell TechCrunch that Meerkat now has more than 300,000 users. Meerkat initially depended on Twitter for its social graph. But Twitter acquired a rival livestreaming app called Periscope and then briefly crippled Meerkat by limiting its access. From a usage standpoint, however, both apps are now seeing similar engagement.
Funding: $18.2 million from Raine Ventures, CAA Ventures, Vayner/RSE, WME, Chad Hurley, David Tisch, Ooga Labs, Aleph, Entree Capital, DreamIt Ventures, Gigi Levy, Ron Gura, Eyal Gura, PLUS Ventures, Jared Leto, Universal Music Group, Broadway Video Ventures, Comcast Ventures, SherpaShare, Vaizra Investments, Slow Ventures, Kevin Colleran, Soma Capital, Greylock Partners
21 is a secretive bitcoin startup that wants to mine bitcoin using your phone.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
What it is: 21, a bitcoin startup that's been operating in stealth, recently announced its plan: a product in the form of an embeddable chip called the BitShare chip that lets you "mine" bitcoin in the background of your phone. These bitcoins could be used to pay for small services you use. Mining bitcoin essentially lets you generate a stream of cryptocurrency as a reward for continuously verifying transactions. The applications for 21's new product in the Internet of Things space, e-commerce, and micropayments could be significant. In a blog post, the company explained: "Rather than paying a number of different subscription bills, by including the right-sized 21 BitShare with the device one can under many scenarios wholly or partially defray the expense of the cloud service."
Funding: $121.1 million from Winklevoss Capital, Pantera Capital, Peter Thiel, Qualcomm Ventures, Data Collective, Khosla Ventures, Yuan Capital, RRE Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz
Vive offers unlimited in-salon blowouts for $99 a month.
What it is: For $99 a month, Vive lets customers get as many blowouts as they want from hair salons in their city. Alanna Gregory, the company's founder, had a hard time finding a place to get her hair blown out aside from Drybar, which books up weeks in advance. Instead of taking on the at-home, Uber-for-blowouts market — where companies like Glamsquad and Priv compete — Gregory wanted to keep the experience in-salon. Vive has launched in beta in New York City, and follows a similar business model to fitness class subscription service ClassPass: one monthly rate for unlimited sessions.
Funding: None announced
Convoy is the "Uber for trucking."
What it is: While Uber wants to the be the logistics network for the world, one startup is taking on the industry that Uber hasn't gained a stronghold in: trucking. The Seattle-based startup pairs shippers with trucks, eliminating the need for brokers and finding the right truck based on the cargo, capacity, equipment needed, and price. The startup is geared more towards local and regional rather than long-haul trucking, giving truck drivers the option to make more money but still get home for dinner. Sound like Uber, much?
Funding: $2.5 million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and ex-Starbucks president Howard Behar
Diamond Foundry grows diamonds. Yes, diamonds.
What it is: The startup, which launched publicly in November, claims it can grow hundreds of diamonds that are up to nine carats in just two weeks in a lab. The company had been working for three years to come up with a way to lab-grow pure diamonds, not synthetics. The company says it discovered a plasma that allows atoms to attach themselves to the thin slice of Earth-extracted diamond. The atoms then stack on top of that natural diamond, layer by layer, until a pure, jewelry-grade diamond is formed.
Funding: Less than $100 million. Diamond Foundry has closed three rounds of financing from individuals including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Twitter/Medium founder Evan Williams, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, One Kings Lane cofounder Alison Pincus, SUN Microsystems founder Andreas Bechtolsheim, Facebook cofounder Andrew McCollum, former Facebook COO Owen van Natta, Marc Benioff's private-investment manager Mark Goldstein, Sequoia Capital's David Spector, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Scott Banister, Vast Ventures, Caspian VC Partners, and many others.