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The 25 hottest under-the-radar startups in America

The 25 hottest under-the-radar startups in America

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 28, 2015

New York and Silicon Valley are known as popular startup hubs, but there are other US cities that have become home to cool and successful tech companies too.

We've compiled a list of 25 of the hottest startups in cities across the US, with a focus on companies growing in flyover states. To do so, we spoke with investors and members on the tech scene.

Though our list includes some big names, it also features fledgling startups, some of which you may not have heard of yet.


Bumble is a dating app that prompts girls make the first move.


What it is: Bumble is an app that flips traditional dating upside down by letting women make the first move. (Whitney Wolfe, a Tinder cofounder, created Bumble not long after she left that company.)

Bumble, like Tinder, uses profile swiping to match singles in the same town. But on Bumble women make the first move, and men who receive a match have 24 hours to respond before the match disappears. When same-sex couples get matched on the app, either party can make the first move.

Bumble launched eight months ago, and it's approaching 1 million downloads. The app has over 5 million conversations started by women, over 1 billion swipes, and 15% week-over-week growth.

Where it's from: Austin, Texas

Founders: Whitney Wolfe

Funding: none announced


Conspire wants to help you get introduced to anyone you want to meet.

Conspire wants to help you get introduced to anyone you want to meet.

ConspirePaul McReynolds, cofounder of Conspire.

What it is: If you want to meet someone you don't know via LinkedIn, there's no good way to do it. So two data scientists who met at Stanford, Alex Devkar and Paul McReynolds, founded Conspire to help you get introduced to anyone you want to meet.

Conspire uses your email account as the basis for a game of Six Degrees of Separation. Sign up, and it analyzes your email. Then enter the name of the person you want to search and it finds someone in your contact list to introduce you, examining that person's social-media connections. It may even find multiple people to help introduce you. Then it will recommend the best choice.

Conspire uses a smart algorithm to figure things out like the multiple email addresses of the same person. The founders say it operates at 95% accuracy.

Where it's from: Boulder, Colorado

Founders: Paul McReynolds, Alex Devkar

Funding: $3.5 million from TechStars, Tahoma Ventures


Cotopaxi sells outerwear with a humanitarian twist.

Cotopaxi sells outerwear with a humanitarian twist.


What it is: Cotopaxi is a humanitarian-minded e-commerce company that specializes in outerwear. Its products — like its popular lifestyle backpacks — are made in sweatshop-free environments.

When you buy a product from Cotopaxi, it has a specific cause attached to it. The company wants its customers to feel a connection with the causes they choose to support through their purchases.

"If you buy the Inca backpack, you’re giving one week of tutoring to a child in an orphanage in Bolivia," CEO Davis Smith explained to TechCrunch. "If you buy the Sambaya fleece, you’re giving one cancer treatment to a woman in Senegal. If you buy the Cambodia water bottle, you’re giving six months of clean water to someone in Cambodia."

Where it's from: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founders: CJ Whittaker, Stephan Jacob, Davis Smith

Funding: $9.5 million from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Brand Foundry Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Jeff Kearl, Josh James, New Enterprise Associates, Peterson Ventures, Kickstart Seed Fund, SherpaCapital, Tekton Ventures

Curalate makes brands pop on Instagram and Pinterest.

Curalate makes brands pop on Instagram and Pinterest.


What it is: Sometimes a great business idea isn't the result of years of planning, a lifelong dream, or a magical flash of insight. It's about seeing a trend and jumping on it.

That's what happened with Apu Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Curalate, which provides advanced image analytics for social networks like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, with clients like Gap and Ogilvy.

Gupta pivoted Curalate from his original startup idea, called Storably — an Airbnb for parking and storage. Now, Curalate does pixel-level analysis to understand why images do well, building algorithms to consume and interpret 30 million images a day.

Where it's from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founders: Nick Shiftan, Apu Gupta

Funding: $12.4 million from New Enterprise Associates, First Round, MentorTech Ventures, Vayner/RSE


Dolly will move anything for you.

Dolly will move anything for you.


What it is: If you need help moving your heavy stuff, Dolly has you covered. The startup beta-tested in Chicago last year before launching in December. Using Dolly's website or app, you can post what services you need done — things like moving a heavy couch or an entire apartment full of stuff — and then wait for one of Dolly's "Helpers" to respond.

Dolly's drivers are background-checked and use their own vehicles for moving. Dolly's pricing comes from the app's algorithm, which suggests a cost based on factors like how many items you're moving and how far you're moving. CEO Mike Howell told the Chicago Tribune that Dolly is intended to help people move without having to ask friends or rely on moving companies and services like U-Haul.

Dolly's closest competitor is likely TaskRabbit, a startup that lets you outsource jobs (like moving) to people nearby. Right now, Dolly is available only in Chicago and Seattle.

Where it's from: Seattle, Washington

Founders: Kelby Hawn, Jason Norris, Michael Howell, Chad Wittman

Funding: $1.7 million


DroneShield will warn you when drones are approaching.

DroneShield will warn you when drones are approaching.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

What it is: John Franklin, an aerospace engineer, is the man behind DroneShield: a startup that wants to warn you when drones are approaching. Franklin started his project on IndieGogo a couple of years ago. Now, with $150,000 in venture-capital funding, DroneShield has created a number of products for drone detection.

DroneShield is a response to the growing number of consumer drones used for what the company calls "unethical" purposes — just earlier this month, a drone dropped heroin, marijuana, and tobacco in an Ohio prison yard. DroneShield's customers are both consumers as well as organizations like prisons, airports, and governments.

"I'm a problem solver, and I'm trying to gauge if this is a problem that people are interested in solving," Franklin told Ars Technica. "The idea here is that it becomes an open-source thing and people could contribute their own signatures."

Where it's from: Washington, DC

Founders: John Franklin

Funding: $150,000 in venture funding

Beme wants to help you share super-short videos with your friends quickly and easily.

Beme wants to help you share super-short videos with your friends quickly and easily.

Casey Neistat/YouTube

What it is: Founded by YouTuber Casey Neistat, Beme wants to be the simplest way for you to share video with friends by completely cutting out all of the editing and sharing options that social networks like Snapchat and Instagram have.

How it works: Videos on Beme are no more than four seconds long, and you're unable to see what you share before you post it. The way Beme shoots video on the iPhone is unique. The app taps into a sensor on the iPhone called a proximity sensor, which is next to the camera on the front of your iPhone.

It's the sensor that detects how close the iPhone is to your body, and when it's covered and Beme is open, the app starts shooting video.

Where it's from: New York, New York

Founders: Casey Neistat

Funding: $2 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vayner/RSE


Duo Security uses two-factor authentication to keep your online accounts safe from bad guys.

Duo Security uses two-factor authentication to keep your online accounts safe from bad guys.

Duo Security

What it is: Companies like Facebook, Eventbrite, Yelp, and Etsy rely on Duo Security for its two-factor authentication and security services. Duo Security makes user accounts safer and easier to access. Duo Security's two-step sign-in system makes users use a second factor — usually in the form of a smartphone or a tablet — to verify their identities.

Even if an unauthorized third party, like a hacker, were to get access to your username and password, Duo Security's cloud-based, two-step verification means the bad guys can't get into your accounts. The company raised a new round of funding from Google Ventures and Benchmark earlier this year to help organizations protect themselves from stolen employee credentials.

Where it's from: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Founders: Dug Song, Jon Oberheide

Funding: $49 million from Redpoint Ventures, Benchmark, Google Ventures, Radar Partners, True Ventures, Resonant Venture Partners


Dwolla makes it easy to send money to anyone.

Dwolla makes it easy to send money to anyone.

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

What it is: Dwolla is a startup that makes it easy and cheap for businesses to collect payments. It's free to send money with Dwolla — you aren't charged a percentage, like credit-card companies or PayPal.

"Ultimately we're trying to build the next Visa, not the next PayPal," CEO Ben Milne told Business Insider. "We're building a human network based on how we think the future of payments will work. The current model needs to be blown up."

Dwolla lets you send money to anyone who has a Dwolla ID, an email address, or a phone number. You can also set up recurring payment and mass-payment options. In addition to catering to people, Dwolla has services for nonprofits and businesses, letting a company have higher transaction limits and next-day transfers.

Where it's from: Des Moines, Iowa

Founders: Ben Milne

Funding: $32.5 million from CME Group, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Village Ventures, Thrive Capital, Paige Craig, SeventySix Capital


Editas Medicine is a completely new technology that edits genes to cure diseases.

Editas Medicine is a completely new technology that edits genes to cure diseases.

Nishimasu et al, 2014

The genome-editing enzyme known as CAS9 at work on a strand of DNA.

What it is: There's a new way to edit genes, and companies want to use it to treat disease.

Editas Medicine, a startup based in Cambridge and founded in November 2013, wants to eventually use the technology to treat disease by coming up with therapies that can modify faulty disease-causing genes.

For example, researchers could use the technology to replace a disease-causing mutated gene with a healthy one. This new technology — known as CRISPR-Cas9 — would be a huge boon to the medical community. It could allow scientists to home in on a particular, potentially faulty gene and swap it out with another, potentially healthy one.  

Where it's from: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Founders: J. Keith Joung, George Church, Jennifer A. Doudna, Feng Zhang

Funding: $210 million from Alexandria Venture, Boris Nikolic, Casdin Capital, Deerfield, EcoR1 Capital, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Flagship Ventures, Google Ventures, Jennison Associates, Khosla Ventures, Omega Funds, Polaris Partners, T. Rowe Price Associates, Third Rock Ventures, Viking Global Investors


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