By now, it’s simple and clear: disruption never stops. New startups arise every year to tackle challenges ranging from tech to travel. Existing businesses can either push themselves to innovate and explore new solutions or step aside as an upstart comes to take the crown.
Last year, businesses like Calm, Robinhood, Figma, and Patreon made headlines as they saw their valuations soar. The global pandemic struck fear in the hearts of many, but some startups saw demand for their services skyrocket during the worst of times. Doordash, for instance, briefly reached a $30 billion valuation after its IPO in December.
For every winner, though, several companies close shop. Investopedia reports that 11 out of 12 startups fail, confirming that startup success requires a combination of talent, determination, and more than a little luck.
Who will be the winners and losers of 2021? Hopefully, these businesses won’t have to contend with a situation as rocky as last year’s. The road to startup success is never easy, though. Pandemic or no pandemic, the top startups of 2021 will need to be clever, creative, and competitive to rise above the rest.
Here are some of the top trendy startups to watch this year:
All startups fill a specific need, and TeamSense solved a vital problem in 2020: Covid employee screening. This startup began as a tool to help companies discreetly ask their employees some simple screening questions to determine if they have COVID-19 symptoms. To stay competitive in the new year, the company has evolved its value proposition. The focus has broadened into an employee communication tool.
Many employees are hesitant to give employers any type of access to their phones, and that includes using their phones as a means to communicate with them about work. To change that perception and ensure quick, direct access between employee and employer — TeamSense came up with a non-invasive system that uses a text-like system to help companies better connect with their employees.
Using evaluations or daily check-ins, an employee communications tool is vital — especially for workforces that may not meet face to face every day. As Work-From-Home continues amid COVID, TeamSense will also be expanding into a text-based employee call system in the near future. When looking at startups making moves this year, TeamSense is one to watch as they continue to grow and innovate.
Emerging in May 2020, Topia has proved to be an essential communication tool for remote culture in work and personal use for today’s pandemic environment. Topia offers users an online community where they can build and join worlds, hop in and out of conversations, and build relationships and connections despite the restrictions and challenges of being apart.
Merging aspects of gaming, video communication, and online portals, users have the creative freedom to organize unique experiences, like attending and interacting in a virtual wedding. This startup has already stirred the pot, and offers a variety of alternatives for how we must interact now. They have opened the door to new social and cultural norms.
Initially developed to be a simple document generation tool for a small lender in 2013, Mortgage Automator officially launched in 2019 as a cloud-based loan origination and servicing platform. Two years later, Automator has grown its team from 5 to 35 people, with over 10 billion dollars worth of loans processed through the system.
Many private lenders struggle to keep their numerous files and clients organized, with paperwork taking up most of their time. Between compliance reports to title company documents, there are a lot of things a lender is balancing during the very important loan process.
Mortgage Automator stepped up to help solve that issue. Not only do they optimize the business processes for these private lenders, but they also automate some of the more tedious steps to save lenders time and increase efficiency. From simple paperwork to communication and payment processing, they are an end-to-end solution. In a market that’s moving towards automation, this new startup is one to watch as they grow in the coming year.
Online event software company Hopin had a wild year in 2020, raising three funding rounds and eclipsing $2 billion. As companies cautiously return to work in 2021, some might see a slowdown for Hopin on the horizon. The growth may not come quite as quickly as it did last year, but that’s no reason to believe Hopin won’t be impressive this year.
With all that funding, plenty of attention, and a growing user base, Hopin is primed for even more expansion. The company is already profitable, — and its leaders say, they always intended to push the limits of hybrid events with both online and in-person components. Plans for virtual reality tech, extensive integrations, and more make Hopin one to watch.
Zoom won the video conference war of 2020, but Whereby refuses to go away quietly. Competing with Zoom and Google Hangouts for users, Whereby has established itself as an easy, no-fuss video communications tool with a variety of helpful features. Users can pick personalized URLs and meet in their browsers on both desktop and mobile.
Whereby stands out in an increasingly crowded video space thanks to its ease of use and focus on privacy. While Zoom has made the news for the wrong reasons in the privacy space, Whereby champions its platform as the go-to video solution for privacy in online chats.
HackerOne takes the focus on privacy one step further. Promoting itself as a hacker-led startup, HackerOne provides hacking services to help businesses identify and patch their weak points. Who better to catch a thief than a thief?
HackerOne has raised several funding rounds, most recently a $40 million Series D round in 2019. The company has gained notoriety for its public hackathons, where white hat hackers attempt to gain access to secure systems at well-known brands for bounties.
Companies today fully recognize how dangerous security breaches can be, making HackerOne a top startup to watch this year.
B2B services? Check. Artificial intelligence? Check. Rabid demand? Yep.
Algolia provides smart search functionalities to help websites create better user experiences for their visitors and customers. Already serving more than 100 billion searches per month, Algolia now offers a whole host of search-related products for businesses.
While Algolia looks like a more mature business than some others on this list, don’t be fooled. The company is still hungry for growth, and its market penetration and a robust catalog of great services will make this company a force in 2021. When names like Stripe, Slack, and Intuit trust their search to Algolia, its success should come as no surprise.
These six startups are all poised for success in 2021, but only a few weeks have passed. Which other businesses will emerge from the unknown to become household names this year? It’s too early to tell for sure, but with names like these on the rise, startups looking to steal the spotlight have their work cut out.
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