Predicting the future? Pretty tough and not the objective of this article. Instead, like at the beginning of last year, I want to present you a list of 25 super hot startups you should closely follow in 2015.
Interestingly, more than ever innovations happen anywhere, i.e. there are some great startups outside of Silicon Valley and the US. In the past 12 months I´ve surveyed the landscape of many promising startups. I think I found again some very exciting ones to keep an eye on. Pretty hot startups which have the potential to take really off and make it into the mainstream in 2015.
Please note that it´s my own personal compilation and that it does not claim to be complete. Saying that, I believe that it gives a good overview for both experts and anyone being interested in startups:
Ginger.io is comprised of experts in data science, software engineering, interaction design, clinical research, and medicine to empower researchers, physicians and healthcare providers to improve patient care. The company sits at the interface of big data, healthcare, and mobile. Based on information from a patient´s smartphone app Ginger.io helps hospitals and caregivers manage patients and detect changes in behavior and health.
These days digital health is very popular among investors, although most startups still have to proof the effectiveness of their devices and apps. One promising startup is Spire which even considers getting FDA approval as a true medical device. Spire is a sophisticated activity tracker that senses physical movement, position, and breathing patterns. It uses this information to provide you with insights about your daily activity and state of mind through the mobile app. The app, although still missing an Android version, is supposed to contain the ability to help boost your activity, relaxation, and focus.
Already over a million users are getting some Headspace to experience meditation and relaxation in a new way. And I´m one of them. A great app to map your journey, track your progress, and get rewards as you go. You can even buddy up with friends and motivate each other along the way. Find some extra calm and clarity with their free “Take 10 programme” – just 10 minutes a day.
Aussie startup Canva is a site that lets non-designers create graphics using drag-and-drop tools. Over the past 16 months, Canva’s one million users have created more than seven million designs. They´ve just launched a new feature to share and discover design, enabling people to post their designs publicly, follow their friends, and interact with others. The Canva Design School, a new platform, offers workshop series and a teacher resource hub.
The New York-based startup founded by Jake Levine developed a computer – called E01 – designed specifically to display the art of the Internet in your home. The company is one of the first to offer the complete package of a digital display, distribution system, and artwork itself. You can explore and display thousands of objects, including original artwork, or upload your own. The E01 can easily be wall-mounted or used with a stand. It is controlled completely with your phone and executed in real time. A limited number of EO1s will be shipping in May 2015. Hurry up and reserve yours today! Jake, I´m also looking forward to receiving mine!
Seattle-based political startup Simpolfy, currently in beta, is a new non-partisan political startup which aims to tell its members what representatives and bills they support, and allow them to easily contact their representatives through the website. Simpolfy aims at voters using their site to rely on hard data in the format of a “report card” to have more empowered citizens who will improve democracy.
You love to read great professional books, but lack time (who doesn´t…)? Berlin-based Blinkist developed an app that distills key insights from popular nonfiction books into fifteen-minute, made-for-mobile reads. These so-called “blinks“ are original, thoughtful, and engaging. They can be read on iOS, Android and any web browser. Currently they feature over 500 books; it´s adding more than 40 new ones every month. There´s a free version where you can read one pre-selected book per day. In the premium version ($99/year) you can read all books and listen to some new ones with Audio. Check out the 3-day-free-trial.
Kytabu (from the word “Kitabu”, Swahili for “book”) is a Kenyan startup which digitizes textbooks and allows users to buy portions of a textbook or an entire textbook on their mobile platform of choice. As such it´s making education increasingly more affordable and accessible. With 7.5 million children in formal schools and another 7.2 million in informal learning environments in Kenya, there is a lot Kytabu can achieve. Certainly it´s also a blueprint for other African countries.
Crypho is a Norwegian startup building encrypted real-time communications solutions for the web. It enables you to set up a secure, end-to-end encrypted, communications channel for your business in a matter of minutes, with no need to install software. Crypho runs in the cloud. Participants can be from different organizations and networks. There are different plans available, from a free personal account to an account for large organizations.
Just as 3D printing is set to bring micro-manufacturing to the masses, so too is 3D scanning. Fuel 3D is an Oxford-based university spin-out that develops handheld 3D scanners for use in 3D modelling applications and 3D printing. For example their Fuel3D handheld scanner, a point-and-shoot 3D imaging system that captures high resolution (~350 microns) shape and color information of objects, costs just less than one tenth of the cost of comparable handheld 3D scanning systems.
MetaMind delivers pretty impressive Artificial Intelligence solutions for enterprises, powered by deep learning (DL). DL comprises a set of techniques that don’t require domain experts to program knowledge into algorithms. Instead, these techniques – by learning to observe data – provide solutions for natural language processing, computer vision and database predictions: e.g. automated medical image diagnostics, sentiment modules to be used in finance, marketing and social media analysis, etc.
Wearable Experiments (We:eX) is a socially driven wearable technology company. Their mission is to bring together fashion and technology with a functional design aesthetic. For example the newly launched Alert Shirt, for which the company weaves hardware, software, and stylish design together with real-time sports data, which is transmitted via a smartphone app to the electronics within the jersey. The Alert Shirt then converts the data into powerful sensations that simulate live sports action.
Ello only launched in late August 2014 with just 90 friends on the new social network back then. A little more than four months later, millions of people have joined Ello worldwide. It´s a global community that believes that a social network should be a place to empower, inspire, and connect — not to deceive, coerce, and manipulate. As such Ello refuses to support itself through advertising and selling user data.
Yep, we´re in the middle of the “sharing economy.” And one key part of it are subscription models. Cratejoy is an all-in-one platform, built from the ground up just for subscription businesses. It assists you to save time and focus on what really matters: growing your business. It contains a website builder, a subscription builder, and some pretty cool reporting tools specifically designed for any subscription business. Additional helpful features are the subscription school and the discussion forum to exchange with like-minded people.
For $99 a month, your personal butler Alfred, i.e. a friendly helper will drop by your house once a week to take care of your weekly errands: Groceries, fridge stocked, laundry, dry cleaning, tailoring, and sending packages. Alfred – which launched in New York and Boston end of 2014 – pairs busy individuals with organized, knowledgeable, intuitive people. It hums along quietly in the background of your life – so you can be free to live yours. If Alfred were able to maintain a high service level whilst catering to millions of customers, then the service will be a blockbuster. No doubt.
Spring, featured as one of Apple´s best 2014 apps, is a great mobile marketplace that gives brands a simple opportunity to let consumers shop with them by directly using the brands´ existing e-commerce infrastructure. Any purchased products are shipped from the brand (incl. handling of returns). Spring – like Seamless or Grubhub – only acts as a referral engine. With its lifestyle photos it looks more like Instagram or Pinterst than a traditional shopping app. However, and that´s the amazing part, via their one-swipe solution you can buy a product in a second in Spring.
In a physical store, the single most significant engagement milestone is reached when shoppers move into the fitting room: Customers who try on clothes convert much higher than without one. Fits.me’s virtual fitting room enables retailers to provide this shopper engagement mechanism online and helps shoppers to choose the right size for them, reduces their fit-related returns, and increases their average order value.
This Israelian startup offers businesses – via their SaaS and mobile-based platform – the ability to show their customers where their order currently is in real-time. Customers can e.g. see the pizza driver´s or cable guys´s location on the map, get his contact details and a picture of him. Customers receive proactive smart alerts (e.g. idle, out of route, late), any other updates and special offers, and can rate the service.
Based in Holborn, London this small startup gives customers an excellent experience throughout the entire car buying process, guiding you seamlessly and painlessly from research to purchase. Users can configure their ideal car with the online programme and then optionally buy what they’ve created directly from handpicked dealers listed on the site.
If the new space revolution were to come from small startups, then Argentinian Satellogic might play a key part in it. The company, which launched three satellites in 2014, aims to build a constellation of nano-satellites to image any spot on earth every few minutes. This would provide real-time coverage of the living earth: From global commercial activity, to the health of the planet, social conflict and natural events.
This startup possesses the world’s largest database of emotion analytics (2.3 million faces analyzed to date) and owns a highly sophisticated patented advanced face and emotion recognition software. Allowing to derive unique insights with high accuracy Affectiva´s technology and data are very interesting for market research, advertising, education, and many more industries.
Bangalore-based Exotel offers an intelligent cloud telephony tracks, records & routes every call, which has smart analytics, and can be easily integrated in your existing CRM system using their APIs. Exotel – currently having more than 500 business clients – found an affordable way to replace expensive call centers.
We Are Pop Up
We Are Pop Up helps tenants to find and rent their ideal pop up space quickly and easily. From shops and restaurants to quirky spaces. Tenants search through hundreds of landlord-listed spaces and contact the ones they like directly via the platform. If you were tight on budget, you can use their Shop Sharing which allows you to pop up within an existing shop. You can even rent a rail, a table, a shelf or a concession and collaborate with an established destination.
Gimlet Media is a network of narrative podcasts (you might remeber that I consider both videos and podcasts as a major focus for marketers this year). In 2014, they launched “StartUp” and “Reply All,” with more shows on the way. For the full story of Gimlet’s creation, go to their site and listen to StartUp, a documentary mini-series hosted by its CEO Alex Blumberg.
This startup is a straightforward and well-designed social news aggregator. It helps you to find and read news articles that have been shared most often by people you follow on Twitter, Facebook, etc. without being overwhelmed or having the feeling to miss anything.
This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Andreas von der Heydt is the Head of Kindle Content at Amazon in Germany. Before that he hold various senior management positions at Amazon and L Oréal. He is a leadership expert and management coach. He also founded Consumer Goods Club.
Image: Traditional Incandescent light bulbs are seen at an apartment in Munich August 31, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Dalder.