To identify the top 25 most promising up-and-coming start-ups in digital marketing, education, healthcare, sharing economy and wearables, Informilo asked investors focused in these areas to nominate start-ups outside their own portfolios. Many of the companies are below the radar, but they are unlikely to stay there for very long.
What it does: Creates new formats of branded digital advertising for publishers.
Why it’s hot: Adludio, formerly Future Ad Labs, develops and distributes a range of ad units for mobile phones. Clients include P&G, Unilever and Sky. It serves ads across a network of over 100 premium sites. In 2013 the company raised $1 million. This year it became the first company to use a crowdfunding platform to raise a convertible investment round.
What it does: Connects brands to photo-sharing sites.
Why it’s hot: Brandnew connects brands with Instagram and Pinterest influencers around the world to deliver native ads. Clients include Coca-Cola, Adidas, Ford, Uber and L’Oreal. In August it received a $1.1 million grant from the city of Berlin, as well as $845,000 from investors in Europe. The capital will support development technology, marketing strategies and brand partnerships.
What it does: Content monetization.
Why it’s hot: Kiosked’s platform turns publishers’ content into targeted ad placements based on contextual and behavioral data. It claims its click-through rates are 80%-200% better than industry averages. The company has more than 10,000 customers, including Asos, eBay, Nike and Zalando and adds one billion new impressions to its network each month. Kiosked has raised $12.65 million.
What it does: Customer experience platform.
Why it’s hot: Qubit collects more than 300 data points to help its customers understand visitors in detail. Founded by four former Google employees, Qubit’s visitor data hub processes more than 1.5 billion customer events online every day. In September it closed a $26 million Series B round, investors included Accel Partners, Salesforce Ventures and Balderton Capital.
What it does: Mobile marketing solutions.
Why it’s hot: Somo is the UK’s largest independent mobile marketing agency. Its app tracker, Lithient, helps marketers analyze and optimize in-app advertising and engagement. Clients include Audi, Home Depot and BP. The company claims to have grown more than 100% in the past year. In April Somo raised $5.5 million from MMC Ventures and other investors.
What it does: Brain-training app.
Why it’s hot: Brainbow, now Peak, was founded by entrepreneurs from Google, Amazon, Playfish, EA and academia and aims to blend tech, gaming, science and education to create a brain-training product. The Peak app was launched in September and the company claims a large global take-up. Brainbow/Peak has raised $3 million from Qualcomm Ventures, DN Capital and others.
What it does: Homework help.
Why it’s hot: Brainly claims to be the world’s largest social network for students. Its 30 million+ users in 35 countries pose an average of 8,000 questions an hour. The community then provides answers; 80% arrive in 10 minutes. In October the company raised $9 million from General Catalyst Partners, existing investor Point Nine Capital and new investors Runa Capital and Learn Capital.
What it does: Peer-to-peer language learning.
Why it’s hot: Busuu enables users to learn directly from native speakers in its community via an integrated video-chat application. The service is free, although a premium option offers more materials. Busuu claims 45 million users and expects to generate revenues of €10 million this year. It has raised €4.8 million since launch. In April Busuu signed a distribution deal with Pearson English.
What it does: “A gym for the brain.”
Why it’s hot: Memorado claims its brain games, available on the web and iOS app, improve working memory and cognitive control. It’s the number one education app in 22 countries; more than one million users have completed more than two million “workouts.” In March the company raised a $1.3 million seed round from Sunstone Capital and a number of Berlin-based angels.
Show My Homework
What it does: Homework tracking.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2011 by Naimish Gohil, a former teacher, Show My Homework allows teachers, pupils and parents to assign, track and monitor homework. It claims to be the UK’s No.1 solution for homework tracking and monitoring. The company works with thousands of teachers and has served more than 500,000 students. It has raised £300,000 in funding from Passion Capital.
San Francisco, CA, U.S.
What it does: Connected monitoring for pregnant women.
Why it’s hot: Slovenian-Croatian start-up Bellabeat has developed tools to monitor the health of pregnant women and their babies. Its app connects mothers with a community. Bellabeat won first prize in the 2013 Pioneers Festival start-up competition, was asked to join Y Combinator’s March class in Silicon Valley and has raised $4.5 million in funding.
What it does: Sleep improvement program
Why it’s hot: Big Health’s Sleepio app creates sleep programs from tests and wearable devices. The service has been integrated with Apple’s HealthKit. Big Health has raised seed funding from angels including Esther Dyson and a series A round of $3.3 million from Index Ventures and Forward Partners in April.
What it does: Securely connects users and doctors.
Why it’s hot: Meedoc enables patients and doctors to talk via a secure video connection. The service is registered as a CE-certified Medical Device which means it can be used throughout the EU. Meedoc claims thousands of users, including a corporate relationship with KONE Elevators. In August the company raised $1.5 million in seed funding from unnamed investors.
What it does: Diabetes-monitoring app.
Why it’s hot: mySugr gamifies diabetes management: users collect points for interacting with their diabetes by recording nutrition information and exercise sessions, and entering blood sugar levels. The company claims nearly 183,000 users in 50 countries (half in the U.S.). In February the company raised more than €1 million from digital health investor XLHealth and Püspök investor group.
What it does: Healthcare booking service.
Why it’s hot: Zesty allows patients to find a healthcare provider near them, compare providers by reading user reviews and book an appointment. It currently works only in Greater London, but should be live in 14 UK markets by the end of 2014. In April it raised $2 million from TA Ventures and ABRT Fund. It raised seed funding from Mangrove Capital.
What it does: RV rental.
Why it’s hot: Berlin-based Campanda offers a wide range of recreational vehicles for rent; it has more than 20,000 RVs in over 30 countries including Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the UK and the U.S. The company raised an undisclosed round earlier this year. Investors include TA Venture, Berlin-based B to V, and Soundcloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss.
What it does: Peer-to-peer car rental portal.
Why it’s hot: Drivy enables car owners to rent out their vehicles when not in use. Alven Capital and Index Ventures invested €2 million in Drivy in 2013 and another €6 million in April. The service has more than 20,000 cars available to rent and more than 350,000 registered users in France. The latest round will be used for international expansion, first to Germany.
What it does: Car parking marketplace.
Why it’s hot: JustPark (formerly ParkAtMyHouse) connects drivers with home and business owners with spaces. The site 100,000 spaces are available on the site, and 500,000 drivers have parked using the service. It launched an in-car app in August. JustPark raised a £250,000 round from BMWi in 2011, and an undisclosed series A round from Index Ventures earlier this year.
What it does: Marketplace for second-hand clothes.
Why it’s hot: Vinted was founded in 2008 to provide a marketplace for girls in Vilnius to swap clothes with one another. Today it has three million members, 14 million listings, and 60 million monthly visits. In late January Vinted announced a $27 million Series B round led by Insight Venture Partners with participation from Accel, bringing total funding to more than $35 million.
What it does: On-demand ride-sharing app.
Why it’s hot: Unlike services such as BlaBlaCar, Wundercar offers free rides, unless the passenger wants to make a donation; Wundercar then takes 20%. The service is available in Hamburg, Berlin, Dublin and Budapest. The company has received close to €1 million in seed funding from Piton Capital, TA Associates, German angels and others.
What it does: Augmented reality glasses.
Why it’s hot: GlassUp’s glasses display information, such as email, directions and translations, on the glass, directed by the user’s smartphone apps. The devices communicate using Bluetooth. Glassup raised $127,700 via Indiegogo in August 2013. It was the first Italian company to seek funding on Seedrs. GlassUp is hoping to deliver product by the spring of 2015.
What it does: Intelligent sleep mask.
Why it’s hot: IntelClinic claims its NeuroOn mask is the first consumer device that can measure sleep waves, eye movement and other activity with professional accuracy. The company reached its Kickstarter funding goal of $100,000 in one day in December 2013, ultimately raising $438,000. It should ship in January 2015.
What it does: Lapel-worn camera.
Why it’s hot: Narrative (which started life as Memoto) is $229 postage-stamp-sized 5 megapixel camera that snaps an image every 30 seconds. With a two-day battery it can record 4,000 pictures. The company, founded in 2012, has raised $12 million, including an $8 million A round in September. Investors include Passion Capital, True Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
What it does: Smart camera for the visually impaired.
Why it’s hot: Orcam gives the visually impaired independence through artificial vision technology. Its $2,500 device can be attached to glasses; it interprets what it sees and communicates with the user via bone-conduction audio. It comes pre-installed with objects it recognizes; it can also learn to recognize objects. In March Intel Capital invested $15 million.
San Francisco, CA, U.S.
What it does: Wireless blood pressure and ECG monitors.
Why it’s hot: QardioArm is a blood pressure monitor that works wirelessly with a user’s iOS or Android device; QardioCore is a wearable ECG heart monitor. In November the company received two CES Innovation Awards for the upcoming CES 2015. Has raised close to $1 million in venture funding and an Indiegogo campaign.