Categories
Uncategorized

Next Billion-Dollar Startups 2021

A $1 billion valuation isn’t what it used to be, as companies reach that milestone with breakneck speed, but there are still plenty of up-and-comers worth keeping an eye on. Here are Forbes’ picks for 25 venture-backed startups most likely to become unicorns. For the seventh year in a row, Forbes has teamed up with…

A $1 billion valuation isn’t what it used to be, as companies reach that milestone with breakneck speed, but there are still plenty of up-and-comers worth keeping an eye on. Here are Forbes’ picks for 25 venture-backed startups most likely to become unicorns.


For the seventh year in a row, Forbes has teamed up with TrueBridge Capital Partners to search for the country’s 25 venture-backed startups most likely to become unicorns. TrueBridge asked some 300 venture firms to nominate companies, while Forbes reached out directly to 80 startups. Then came the deeper look, as we analyzed finances and interviewed founders and investors. A $1 billion valuation isn’t what it used to be, as companies reach that milestone at breakneck speed. Even startups with barely any revenue are earning sky-high valuations as investors bet on future growth. The average estimated 2020 revenue for companies on this year’s list is just $12 million, compared with an average $30 million in previous year’s revenue for those on the 2020 list. Still there are plenty of up-and-comers worth keeping an eye on, including one that tests your dog’s DNA and another that will help you notarize documents from the comfort of your home. This list represents the 25, in alphabetical order, that we think have the best shot of becoming future stars. 


Abra 

Abra

Founder: Bill Barhydt (CEO) 

Equity raised: $86 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $10 million 

Lead investors: Arbor Ventures, First Round Capital, HCM Capital, Ignia 

This self-described “crypto bank” is among the oldest startups in bitcoin. Former Goldman Sachs vice president Barhydt, 53, founded the company in 2014 to help immigrant employees send money back home to their families. Today, Abra offers a souped-up bitcoin wallet that lends out both crypto and dollars held by its depositors at rates as high as 12%. The depositor receives 85% of the interest, while Abra takes the rest. The Mountain View, California-based firm also makes money on the spread between the spot price and the trade price for crypto transactions. This is such a new area that it’s a regulatory grey zone: In 2020, the SEC and CFTC fined the firm $300,000 for selling security-based swaps without proper registration. The fast-growing firm, which is profitable, is on track to increase revenue sevenfold this year, to roughly $75 million.


Alchemy 

Alchemy

Founders: Joseph Lau, Nikil Viswanathan (CEO) 

Equity raised: $96 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $2 million 

Lead investors: Addition, Coatue, Pantera 

Alchemy makes it easier to read and write information onto blockchains, such as Ethereum and Flow. The service starts free for smaller developers, but larger customers pay a monthly fee. The San Francisco-based firm is on pace to increase revenue tenfold this year, to an estimated $20 million, as it helps clients like PwC, Unicef and OpenSeat conduct more than $30 billion in volume annually. Viswanathan, 34, and Lau, 32, previously cofounded Down to Lunch, a popular social hangout iPhone app.


Array 

Array

Founders: Martin Toha (CEO), Phillip Zedalis 

Equity raised: $67 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $11 million 

Lead investors: Battery, General Catalyst 

Serial entrepreneur Toha, 42, left identity protection company Pentius and brought along its CTO, Zedalis, 36, to launch Array in January 2020. The New York City-based company works behind the scenes with fintechs and other financial institutions to help their developers build out consumer-facing financial tools. These include apps that reveal a client’s credit score, show their payment history or offer identity protection. Array says that it can complete projects for its financial customers including SoFi, Brigit and One in weeks that would previously have taken 18 months. “Though our clients are businesses, everything we do is to help consumers have better financial health,” Toha says.


Embark Veterinary 

Embark Veterinary

Founders: Adam Boyko, Ryan Boyko (CEO), Matt Salzberg, Spencer Wells 

Equity raised: $95 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $36 million 

Lead investors: F-Prime Capital, Founder Collective, Freestyle, Slow Ventures, SoftBank, Third Kind Venture Capital 

Back in 2007, Adam Boyko, 43, a canine geneticist, and his brother Ryan, 37, who has a master’s degree in public health, set out to study the origins of domestic dogs and realized that the country’s nearly 50 million dog-owning households might also be curious about their pets’ backgrounds. Boston-based Embark Veterinary now sells DNA testing kits (priced at $129 to $199) that give customers insight into their pets’ genetics and potential future health issues. Embark has tested close to one million dogs since its 2015 founding, and, with the consent of owners, is using the data generated to conduct research into dog health. Its revenue is expected to double to $72 million this year. The company counts 23andMe’s billionaire cofounder Anne Wojcicki among its backers.


Forethought

Forethought

Founders: Sami Ghoche, Deon Nicholas (CEO) 

Equity raised: $27 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $2 million 

Lead investors: K9 Ventures, NEA 

Nicholas, 28, worked as an engineer at Facebook, Palantir and Dropbox before starting Forethought with his former Palantir colleague, Ghoche, 27, in late 2018. Based in San Francisco, Forethought offers an AI tool that plugs into a company’s customer service software like Zendesk and ServiceNow for faster and more accurate resolutions. The AI gets smarter over time as it learns how past issues were resolved and what the common problems are. Its goal is to make customer service teams more efficient so they can focus on complex tickets rather than redundant queries. Tech giants Gusto, Lime, Instacart and Thumbtack are clients. “AI will be the fourth industrial revolution,” Nicholas says.


Headway 

Headway

Founders: Andrew Adams (CEO), Kevin Chan, Dan Ross, Jake Sussman 

Equity raised: $103 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $16 million 

Lead investors: Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, GV, Thrive Capital 

“My life was changed when I saw a therapist,” says Adams, 30. A Stanford graduate with a master’s degree in engineering and a professional background in venture capital, Adams never expected to be the founder of a mental healthcare startup. His own experience dealing with depression in therapy, however, led him to launch New York City-based Headway in 2017 as a matching tool for patients and therapists. After working on it a year and a half, Adams realized the greater problem was that so many people simply couldn’t afford professional help. Many therapists (Headway claims 70%, based on its own 2018 survey) don’t take insurance. To up that number, Headway built software that handles billing and administrative support. Patients then have access to a free directory of therapists they can actually afford. The company says that three quarters of the therapists who signed on in New York City, its first market, did not previously take insurance. Headway makes its money by getting a cut of the insurer’s reimbursement. “Therapists get to say yes to people they would typically have to say no to, patients are able to spend $20 instead of $200 for a session and insurance companies are actually saving money with more people seeing therapists,” says Adams. 


Hyperscience 

Hyperscience

Founders: Peter Brodsky (CEO), Krasimir Marinov, Vladimir Tzankov 

Equity raised: $189 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $16 million 

Lead investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures, FirstMark, Stripes, Tiger Global 

Think of Hyperscience like a digital assembly line for forms, humming behind the scenes. Brodsky wants to not only automate his customers’ menial business processes, like reviewing mortgage applications or disability claims, but also continually improve and update them over time without human intervention. His startup, headquartered in New York with a technical office in Sofia, Bulgaria, now helps customers like TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and the state of California. “There’s something very surprising about the fact that you could be a better bureaucrat . . . and that leads to lives saved,” says Brodsky, who cofounded the business after attempting to automate away his own job running an engineer team at SoundCloud. “That’s the maximum impact you could ever possibly hope to have.”

Legion Technologies 

Legion Technologies

Founder: Sanish Mondkar (CEO) 

Equity raised: $85 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $5 million 

Lead investors: First Round Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Stripes, XYZ 

When Sanish Mondkar, former chief product officer at SAP, left his job in 2015, he traveled around the country with his two dogs, talking with people outside of Silicon Valley. The result: In 2016, he founded Legion Technologies, a workforce management software company that helps employers like Dollar General, SoulCycle and Philz Coffee (its first customer) oversee their hourly workers. “There is no innovation targeted at these hourly workers,” says Mondkar, 48. Redwood City, California-based Legion uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help its customers forecast demand and optimize their labor costs, while taking into account employees’ preferences for when and how they work. “Most employees quit these jobs because of schedule conflicts,” he says. “The goal for the algorithms is to prioritize both sides.” With increased attention on workforce issues during the pandemic, Legion revenues are expected to more than double this year, to $11 million.


Mati 

Mati

Founder: Filip Victor (CEO) 

Equity raised: $86 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $4 million 

Lead investors: Spero Ventures, Tribe Capital 

Filip Victor, 30, arrived in the U.S. from Poland via the U.K. to go to school at the University of Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, he started thinking about how hard it was as an immigrant to access financial services, rent a car or book an Airbnb. In 2015, he founded Mati to solve the problem of online identity verification by aggregating dozens of data points. Today, the San Francisco-based startup focuses on customers in Mexico (its first market) and Latin America, where its customers include bitcoin exchange Binance and fintech Creditas. Next up: expansion to Indonesia, India and Africa. “In the U.S., people like me are called ‘thin file,’ and while it’s not trivial, it is still a minority,” Victor says. “When you look at countries like Mexico, India and Nigeria, it is over 90%.” 


Netlify 

Netlify

Founders: Christian Bach, Mathias Biilmann (CEO) 

Equity raised: $107 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $10 million 

Lead investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Bloomberg Beta, EQT Ventures, Kleiner Perkins 

By building websites more like mobile apps, where a developer may cherry-pick from a variety of integrations and APIs, they can be set up faster, safer and cheaper. That’s the basic idea behind Netlify, the San-Francisco based startup cofounded by high school buddies Biilmann, 45, and Bach, 43. Netlify’s technology lets developers configure the front end of a website and implement a variety of back-end APIs that already exist to build better sites at ten times the speed and significantly lower cost. Netlify’s customers include tech giants Twilio, Peloton and Shopify, as well as individuals building personal hobby sites. Biilmann, a Danish immigrant, says Netlify’s biggest challenge was getting Web developers to think differently. “We had to convince the world that this architectural shift was something really valuable,” he says. “When we started, there was no nomenclature in decoupling web UI from back-end business logic. We had to build that concept.” 

Postscript 

Postscript

Founders: Alex Beller, Adam Turner (CEO), Colin Turner 

Equity raised: $50 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $13 million 

Lead investors: Accomplice, Greylock Partners, OpenView, Y Combinator 

Postscript helps more than 5,000 small businesses on Shopify manage their SMS text-messaging campaigns with shoppers to bolster engagement and sales. Adam Turner, 29, started the company with his older brother Colin and Beller, 30, with whom Adam previously worked at product discovery firm StackCommerce. Founded in 2018, the company took off that November after helping its customers push shoppers to their Black Friday sales. That success allowed the brothers and Beller to snag a spot at Y Combinator for 2019. “SMS is the messaging thread in the U.S. and Canada, and consumers are expecting it to behave in a way that hasn’t really been built yet,” Adam Turner says.


Productboard 

Productboard

Founders: Daniel Hejl, Hubert Palan (CEO) 

Equity raised: $137 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $20 million 

Lead investors: Credo Ventures, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global 

While serving as the vice president of product management at business intelligence firm GoodData, Czech Republic-born Palan, 43, wondered why there was no software for product development that made customer needs—as opposed to engineering priorities—its focus. To launch San Francisco-based Productboard, he spoke with more than a thousand product developers and built 14 different versions of the new application. Productboard integrates with existing data sources like Zendesk and Jira, which allows product specialists to monitor customer feedback in a single space to make better decisions about what their users really want. More than 4,500 customers, including UIPath and Zoom, have signed on.


Route 

Route

Founders: Mike Moreno, Evan Walker (CEO) 

Equity raised: $91 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $34 million 

Lead investors: Album VC, Craft Ventures 

Route aims to tackle the e-commerce problem of “Where is my order?” or “wismo,” as it’s known in the industry, by connecting merchants with their customers after online orders are placed. It also offers built-in shipping insurance. “We allow the consumer to click a button and instantly reorder their stuff,” says Walker. That saves customers the time and aggravation of calling customer service to track down orders that have gone astray and increases their loyalty to the brands that make it easy. The Lehi, Utah-based startup, which has signed up more than 10,000 merchants, collects about half its revenue from the service fees it charges for insurance and the rest from transaction fees that merchants pay each time a customer buys a product marketed through Route. The visual tracking itself is free. Walker, 41, started his first e-commerce business at 14, when he built a website that sold video games out of his bedroom; a few years later, its annual sales surpassed $10 million.


Salt Security 

Salt Security

Founders: Roey Eliyahu (CEO), Michael Nicosia 

Equity raised: $131 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $10 million 

Lead investors: Advent International, S Capital VC, Sequoia Capital, Tenaya Capital, Y Combinator 

Salt Security uses automation and big data to detect cybersecurity weak spots in APIs, a set of tools that let apps talk to one another. This allows the startup, founded in 2016, to provide insights and remove risks for customers that include Home Depot and City National Bank. Eliyahu, 28, started coding at age 9, at his home in Yavne, Israel, and became a freelance developer when he was 11. During his military service in the Israeli Defense Forces, starting at age 18, he worked closely with its elite Unit 8200 on cybersecurity. He founded Salt Security in Silicon Valley, but maintains offices in Israel. APIs are the backbone of digital transformation and innovation, Eliyahu says, but the rampant use of thousands of APIs to build software has complicated security issues. The result: The company expects revenue to reach $20 million this year.


Shef

TIMOTHY ARCHIBALD FOR FORBES

Founders: Joey Grassia (co-CEO), Alvin Salehi (co-CEO)

Equity raised: $29 million

Estimated 2020 revenue: $3 million

Lead investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Craft Ventures, M13

The brainchild of two first-generation Americans who wanted to create economic pathways for immigrants, Shef helps in-home cooks sell meals to customers who might otherwise order takeout. A year after meeting at the 2018 Forbes Under 30 Summit, Alvin Salehi, 31 (below right), founder of Code.gov, and Joey Grassia, 34, a serial entrepreneur, teamed up to start the marketplace in San Francisco. They immediately began lobbying to change state and local laws that prevent people from running food businesses from their homes. Thanks partly to those efforts, Shef now operates in eight cities, including San Francisco, New York and Austin, and has delivered more than a million meals prepared by immigrants, laid-off line cooks and others. It won’t divulge how many chefs it currently works with but says 16,000 are on a waiting list to join. “It’s a very personal mission for both of us,” Salehi says.

Sundae 

Sundae

Founders: Josh Stech (CEO), Andrew Swain 

Equity raised: $136 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $10 million 

Lead investors: Fifth Wall, Founders Fund, General Global Capital, QED Investors, Susa Ventures 

When homeowner

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *