Expect Great Things From These 9 Tech Startups in 2016

Expect Great Things From These 9 Tech Startups in 2016
Image credit: Beepi | Facebook

In the world of tech startups, hype and anticipation are never in short supply. We’ve heard it time and again: The next big thing is going to forever transform how we live, work and play -- and make a killing doing it.

Against all odds, the best of the best have done just that. Cases in point: Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Amazon. They emerged out of obscurity, shot to the top and shook up the world.

Who’s next? Which up-and-comers will rise above the rest this year and make their mark? Of course, we can’t say for sure, but we can sure have fun taking educated guesses.

Related: This Startup That Fills Your Gas Tank on Demand Just Raised $9 Million

Here’s our list of nine hot tech startups to watch this year. Each is turning marketable ideas into reality, gaining traction with customers and stirring up some serious buzz in the process.

1. Product Hunt

Image credit: Product Hunt

Founder:
Ryan Hoover

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
San Francisco

With more than a billion websites now crowding the interwebs, discovering new products is a massive challenge. When blogger Ryan Hoover couldn’t find an all-in-one site dedicated to surfacing cool, new stuff that techies like him could geek out on, he created one.

At first, it was just an email list. Then, what had begun as a side project evolved into Product Hunt, a wildly popular online tastemaking hub that showcases the latest gadgets, games, podcasts and books.

The Y-Combinator-backed website blew up within a year of launch, attracting millions of users, many of them investors and early adopters, who scour Product Hunt’s cleancut curated lists for the next great innovation. To date, Product Hunt has raised an estimated $7.1 million in venture capital.

Related: Product Hunt Thrives As a Startup Showcasing Startups

2. DoorDash

Image credit: DoorDash | Facebook

Founders:
Andy Fang, Stanley Tang, Evan Moore and Tony Xu

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
San Francisco

Look out, Postmates. DoorDash is in your rear-view mirror, driving into your market share and fast. Powered by tens of thousands of Uber-style drivers (called “dashers”), the on-demand food delivery app ferries fresh grub from local restaurants to customers in 250-plus cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The scrappy startup has come a long way from the Stanford dorm room it launched from in a very short time. It’s already penned partnerships with top brands such as KFC, 7-Eleven and Dunkin’ Donuts, ponying up some $60 million in investments (and a legal battle with In-N-Out Burger) along the way.

Related: How This Startup Is Helping Restaurants Be More Efficient About Delivery

3. Boxed

Image credit: Boxed | Instagram

Founders:
Chieh Huang, William Fong, Christopher Cheung and Jared Yaman

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
Edison, N.J.

Shopping at places such as Costco and Sam’s Club can be a logistical nightmare if you live in the heart of a big city. Just think what a pain it would be to schlep a glut of wholesale goods home on public transit, for example. Stocking up at suburban big-box retail giants can also be a headache if you live way out in the boondocks.

Enter Boxed Wholesale, an ecommerce startup that lets consumers shop from their smartphones and laptops for groceries and other household items in bulk -- minus the long lines and membership fees (and the free food samples).

Started in a windowless conference room by four friends, the young company now has a total headcount of 100 and a fast-growing national footprint. Fresh off a $100 million series C funding round, its total investment haul stands at approximately $132 million.

Related: This Business Owner Is Paying for His Employees' Kids to Go to College

4. Luxe Valet

Image credit: Luxe | Facebook

Founders:
Curtis Lee and Craig Martin

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
San Francisco

Parking your car in a city is an exercise in frustration. Circling the same block multiple times for a spot is a waste of time, one that Luxe Valet wants to relieve you of. Fittingly, the valet-parking upstart launched its smartphone-app based service in the parking nightmare known as San Francisco. Fueled by approximately $25 million in venture capital -- some of it from Google Ventures -- it has since driven into seven more major U.S. cities.

For an hourly rate (which varies by location), Luxe’s valets will park your car in the company’s lots. For additional fees, they can also wash your ride, put gas in it and change the oil. Oh, and if you happen to drive a Tesla, they’ll charge it, too (even if it parks itself). The startup just partnered with Elon Musk’s electric car company this week.

Related: The Sharing Economy Isn't a Niche. It's the Future of Market Capitalism.

5. Medium

Image credit: Medium | Blog

Founders:
Jose Pino and Evan Williams

Year founded:
2011

Headquarters:
San Francisco

For a brief period, Medium looked like another invite-only blogging platform. Then, not long after it opened up to everyone in 2013, it quickly went viral. The social publishing mecca quickly became the “it” place to be heard. Anyone -- amateurs, marketers, politicians and journalists alike -- is welcome to publish written content of all kinds on the popular site. This includes everything from short stories to meandering manifestos, deep reportage to political puffery and more.

Medium was co-founded by billionaire Evan Williams, former Twitter CEO and a member of its founding team. The site, which recently repositioned itself as the Internet’s version of a newspaper op-ed section, unorthodoxly measures its success on the time people spend reading its articles versus the amount clicks they rack up.

Hundreds of thousands of people have published on the platform, which last year rolled out its first sponsored content, also known as native advertising. So far, the company has raised a none-too-shabby $82 million in venture capital, with infusions from some high-profile investor-entrepreneurs such as Chris Sacca and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Related: Want to Write a Book? Consider These 3 Self-Publishing Options.

6. ClassPass

Founders:
Payal Kadakia and Mary Biggins

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
New York, N.Y.

ClassPass has managed to thrive after nearly being dead on arrival. During its first year, when it was still named Classivity, barely anyone had booked fitness classes through its app-based gym membership platform. In a last-ditch effort to save the floundering service, its founders offered a one-month pass that let people try 10 classes from 10 different studios. It was a smart move.

Today, the company is on a roll. The Google Ventures-backed upstart now employs some 300 people and connects a growing base of customers with exercise classes at some 3,000 boutique gyms and participating studios in 30-plus cities across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. To date, the “Silicon Alley” standout has banked an estimated $84 million in venture capital.  

Related: SXSW: What ClassPass Learned About Making Decisions Easier for Customers

7. Beepi

Founders:
Alejandro Resnik and Owen Savir

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
Los Altos, Calif.

This recent tweet is pretty much the perfect pitch for Beepi: “I bought a car today. On the Internet. With an app. On my phone. Hands down the most #Millennial thing I’ve ever done. Thanks @beepi.” Basically, buying and selling used cars has never been so, well, cool.

Beepi officially launched its innovative service just two years ago, and it’s been in the fast lane ever since, steadily expanding at a 20 percent annual rate, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Co-founder and CEO Alejandro Resnik got the idea for the app after buying a used Jeep that caught fire. The MIT grad and serial entrepreneur claims Beepi is the first company to sell cars “100 percent online.” So far, it has secured nearly $149 million in investments, revving up its rapid growth throughout the U.S.

Related: Let This Company Make Your Concept a Creation

8. Shyp

Image credit: Shyp | Facebook

Founders:
Kevin Gibbon, Joshua Scott and Jack Smith

Year founded:
2013

Headquarters:
San Francisco

Shyp is making a promising go of taking on the box-moving big boys -- UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. The trendy on-demand shipping app enables people to order a courier who will cart any item off to one of its warehouses. From there, goods are professionally packed and shipped off to their destinations.

The Daymond John-backed service, flush with $50 million in venture capital, is fresh off of an incredible year. In 2015, Shyp took its bike and car couriers (“Shyp heroes”) from contract to full time, tied up a partnership with eBay, debuted several new features and brushed up its branding. Available at first in San Francisco and New York City, it also extended its package pickup reach to Los Angeles and Chicago.

Forgive the cheesy pun, but we have a hunch more consumers will give a Shyp about this startup soon.

Related: How Shyp Is Shaking Up the Process of Mailing Packages

9. Acorns

Image credit: Acorns | Facebook

Founders:
Mark Dru, Walter Cruttenden and Jeffrey Cruttenden

Year founded:
2012

Headquarters:
Newport Beach, Calif.

Father-son duo Walter and Jeffrey Cruttenden founded Acorns with the goal of making investing less tedious and intimidating through automation. The smartphone app they built to do that automatically invests users’ leftover change from routine credit and debit card purchases in exchange-traded funds.

Since its launch, the company has increased its headcount from 20 employees to 89. Last Spring, Jeffrey Cruttenden said that Acorns was serving some 650,000 registered users who had opened approximately 300,000 investment accounts. Its latest funding round brings the Southern California startup to total of $32 million in venture capital. That’s no spare change.

Related: Industries Driving the Top 10 Small Cities for Business Owners