Top ten innovative tech start-ups of 2014

By | April 10, 2015
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Apart from starting a company to make money, there are some really young companies who go beyond selling products to make money and effecting real change in a variety of industries with their products that are very innovative. Compiled below are some of the top innovative start-ups that deals with innovative items and also hold potential to become big business.

1. uBeam

Founded in 2011, uBeam beams electricity through air to charge portable electronic nearby wirelessly. The application is more or less like Wi-Fi for energy. The uBeam device will convert electricity into ultrasound, meaning sound waves not audible to human ear, pass them into a charging device that will convert them back into electricity to charge mobile devices. The uBeam pack comes along with a charger (attached to the wall) and a receiver to be placed on each device to be charged. The devices can be moved anywhere along the room, as it get charged.

The start-up founded by Meredith Perry, had already received about $1.7 million from a bunch of famous investors. It later received about $10 million investment from Upfront Ventures which was stated to be “the most ambitious project I’ve seen since I became a VC,” by the company’s Mark Suster. Unlike many other companies that have found solution to charge devices wirelessly that use magnetic resonance charging, uBeam uses ultrasonic sound waves. Also, using of the ultrasonic sound waves to charge devices, does not demand device to be placed in close proximity.

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2. Modo:

The not-for-profit car sharing co-op Modo based in Vancouver is the oldest of the car sharing organization in the area and also the first car share co-op in North America. Modo started in 1997 as the co-operative Auto Network, founded on the ideals of the co-operative movement and the environmental benefits of car sharing. It rebranded in 2011 as an effort that increased membership in the non-profit by 30 percent, according to Cause and Effect, the Vancouver agency that led the rebranding effort.

The company with 345 cars and 11,000 members collaborated with Victoria Car Share’s 23 vehicles and 800 members soon. Modo CEO Nathalia Baudoin is excited about the merger.  she says, ” Not only from a business standpoint, but also from a friend standpoint, our values are very similar and it’s great to be able to work in Victoria.”The merger is expected to pull in more cars and updated technology to the Victoria fleet, such as the fob system of opening the vehicles instead of a lockbox that’s currently used and an online sign-up for new members, but will also cover a larger area for members in both cities.

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3.Slack:

The San-Francisco start-up, Slack, makes a workplace collaboration app that may look like several other group chat apps like think AOL Instant Messenger or the nerdier Internet Relay Chat but it is not. It has some unusual feature like including automatic archiving of all conversations, a good search engine and the ability to work across just about every device you use. Slack is hosted online and is very customizable making it easy for the corporate technology departments to set up and maintain. These features boosted Slack into one of the fastest-growing business applications in history.

The founder of Slack, Stewart Butterfield predicts that by end of the year, more than two million employees around the world will be using Slack. The company charges $6.50 for its application and is yet to make profit. It raised $120 million last fall in an investment that valued the company at more than $1 billion. Now, the company is back on the fund-raising trail and is in discussion to raised money at a valuation of more than $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. As a matter of information, Stewart Butterfield is the same person who created Flickr.



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4.Flatiron Health:

The health care start-up, Flatiron collects data from cancer patients, to help inform other patients, researchers and doctors. The founder Nat Turner says the data collected from cancer patients is not used for any organized purpose. The idea to start this company striked after the founders Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg saw many of their friends and family members battling with cancer. So they decided to sell their advertising tech company to Google for $81 and use the money to start Flatiron Health around two years ago.

Last year, Google Ventures invested $130 million in the company. It is the biggest investment Google Ventures has spent in a healthcare start-up. The business model for the company is to sell its database to physicians, researchers and ultimately patients, along with tools for each group to sort through the data. Turner said, “Our vision is to aggregate the data on the 96% of the patients who are not participate in the clinical trials, organize it and make it usable by physicians, patients and any of the stakeholders here. Ultimately we want to improve cancer care.”

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5. Oscar:

The technology-based health insurance company founded by Josh Kushner, Kevin Nazemi and Mario Schlosser is focused on utilizing technology, design and data to humanize healthcare. Having looked at current state of US healthcare system and been frustrated by the horrible customer experience, they decided to start the company. They work to redesign insurance to be geared toward the user experience, to make patients seek out their insurer before their doctor. The company not only works to cover up medical expenses , but also to be the primary place to get the medical assistance a patient needs at any time.

Founded in October 2013, it has silently raised $80 million investment round, according to the information obtained last December. Sources suggest the round valued the New York-based company to $800 million. The Series A round was led by Formation8’s Joe Lonsdale that included billionaires Jim Breyer and Stanley Druckenmiller and few more. Though no comments were received from the company on valuation and revenue, its said the company has more than 16,000 customers who pay an average of $4500 in annual fees that places Oscar’s revenue around $72 million.

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6. Glamsquad:

The New York-based Glamsquad start-up is a mobile app that allows women to book hair and make-up services to come to their home or office. The team of experiences hair stylists and make-up artists are handpicked and expertly trained undergoing extensive proprietary training and character-assessment techniques to guarantee consistent high quality results and a positive stylist experience with every appointment. With personalized one-to-one consultations and a signature range of inspirational looks,  the company offers clients the full celebrity-experience, helping them look and feel their best. The services are currently available in New York and Los Angeles and would soon expand to Miami and other cities in USA. The services start from $50 for hair services.

Founded in January 2014, the company has raised $7 million in Series A funding in a round led by SoftBank Capital. Other participating in the new round include Lerer Ventures, AOL’s BBG Ventures fund and Montage Ventures. The company had also raised $2 million in seed funding.  The raised amount would be used to expand its operations to other locations.

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7. Birchbox

Launched in 2010, Birchbox is the discovery commerce platform redefining the retail process by offering consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop and learn about the best products and brands available. Member of Birchbox  have first-touch experiences with products each month and access to educational content to help them get the most out of their products. The startup has partnered with Kiehl’s, Benefit, Deborah Lippmann and Stila.

Started by two young women Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna (both graduates of Harvard Business School), the company received initial funding of $1.4 million in seed funding from investors including First Round and Accel Partners in 2010. In 2011, the company received $10.5 million in Series A funding. The company is rapidly growing a fast phase with around 45,000 members and 25 employees as of June 2011. In April last year, it raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Viking Global Investors which increases the valuation of the company to $485 million.

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8.Blue Apron:

The New-York City based start-up Blue Apron is godsend for those wannabe cooks that hate carrying heavy shopping bags from grocery stores. The company puts together various meals each week and sends the perfect portions of each ingredient to users for their own cooking and learning pleasure. The idea behind it is simple. People who are strapped for time but want to make their own home-cooked food can sign up to receive three meals a week that will come in portions for either two, four or six-person portions.

The goal of Blue Apron is to get people cooking things they wouldn’t ordinarily, said Matt Salzberg, cofounder and CEO of the company. It is a subscription service so that the team can know how much to order every week and reduce waste. I currently ships around 600,000 meals a month and though he declined to give out the financials, he said the company makes a healthy margin. The company raised $58 million in funding and is valued at $500 million.

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9.Uber

A San-Francisco based international Company, Uber is an application that allows its customers to request for trip details which is routed to crowd-sourced taxi drivers. This startup is revolutionizing the way one gets from point A to point B all around the world. The customers can pay the regular fare on the completion of the trip in cash with no commissions.

Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, it pooled in funding of $49 million in venture funds in 2011. From 2012, Uber began to expand in foreign markets. It also experimented with carpooling features and made many more updates. Google Ventures invested $258 million in 2013 which has made Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond one of the board of directors. By August 2014, the company had raised US$1.5 billion in venture capital and other investors like Qatar Investment Authority, New Enterprise Associates and Valiant Capital Partners. Currently, the company is valued at $40 billion, making it one of the world’s most highly valued start-ups.

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10. Weddingful

Kickstarted in 2009, Weddingful is a social community with thousands of local brides, grooms and vendors that simplifies the wedding planning experience. For selecting the wedding venue to honeymoon, the startup connects thousands of couples and wedding service professionals across Canada and the US. The seven-employee company makes money through monthly vendor subscriptions and commissions on sales.

End of last year, the founder Angel Pui says, Weddingful hit upward of $90,000 in monthly revenue, a figure that pushed annual sales to around $2 million. Over the last two years the company has raised more than $500,000 from backers including the Business Development Bank of Canada. Pui says that the company has not decided on the next round of funding as it is not married to any particular expansion plan.

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