By Eoin O'Hara
2015 has been a great year for startups.
Here is a countdown some of my favourite innovative and exciting startups that have had a great year in 2015 (and will probably have a great 2016 as well).
Live video-streaming service Periscope was almost destined for success having been purchased by Twitter before it even launched, back in March of this year. From virtual unknown to social media phenomenon in the space of a few months, Periscope is a prime example of the rate at which startups can grow into major industry players when all the right elements come together. Video streaming is set to become an even bigger player within digital marketing over the course of 2016, so get yourself up to speed with how your business might benefit with our recent exploration of Periscope for startups.
This retail startup which places itself as a challenger to the dominance of Amazon only launched in July 2015 and already has a valuation of $1.5bn after raising $350m investment in November. The startup's business model is a fairly simple one, but many would argue that it represents the first credible challenge to Amazon’s dominance of the online retail space. Products are offered at a discount, and the more things you add to your shopping basket the larger the discount becomes, with the price reduction facilitated in part by the drop in P&P costs. Further price reductions can be enjoyed by giving up rights to return, or switching to similar products which are available at a warehouse closer to you.
Too often fintech startups are only concerned with managing the funds of the super rich or the businesses that they own, so I was very pleased earlier this year to learn of the launch of US startup Even, an app designed for those with predictable but uneven pay cheques. The idea is that based on an average pay rate the app will deposit a certain amount of money into user's accounts each month, giving those with sporadic working hours an opportunity to have a steady income. It is something of an ethical alternative to payday loan providers charging just $5 per month. Since launch, the team have secured $1.5 million investment from a number of angels and VC’s with ambitious plans for growth in 2016.
Developed on the back of the growing ‘sharing economy’ Honor is a social impact startup that pairs seniors in need of home care with professionals who can provide it for them. The startup has arisen from a general sense of dissatisfaction within the US social care system, and provides an alternative opportunity for those seeking a more personalised and tailored service, matching seniors with careers based on personality traits, interests, and so forth. They have already received over $20M since launching earlier this year.
Virtual Reality technology in general has come on leaps and bounds over the past year but the best I have experienced is that offered by Jaunt. I was lucky enough to have a go at Web Summit in November and was pretty overwhelmed by the progress that has been made in this field in the last 12 months, and especially by the team at Jaunt. They have had a very good year in 2015, raising over $100 million in funding and developing a new series of professional-grade camera systems specifically designed for capturing 360-degree cinematic VR experiences… basically, it’s like really REALLY realistic. The technology represents quite a leap forward for the industry and adds an extra string to the bow of a company that, in my opinion was already outshining a great deal of its rivals. Expect to hear a lot more about Jaunt in 2015.
Having raised over $100 million in February this year, UK money transfer startup World Remit has recently been named top of Deloitte's 50 fastest growing tech businesses in the country, with over 20,000 % growth in the last 12 months. (No that’s not a typo; it really has grown twenty-thousand percent in 2015) This is quite a remarkable feat considering the scale of their competition, which includes Western Union and MoneyGrams, but with the World Bank now estimating that the financial remittance market will see more than $700 billion in transfers in 2016. There are strong indications that this dizzying success will continue next year and beyond.
This American startup pulls together two of the most talked about startup technology related topics of the year, drones and data analytics. They are developing a platform which allows information captured by drones to be processed and used to help solve some of the biggest issues facing the construction industry on a daily and ongoing basis. Some of these problems include expensive aerial mapping and dangerous site inspections. AeroAnalytics are a really good example of how both drone technology and data analytics software have begun to have a profound impact on all sorts of industries over the past year.
Testament to the strength of the fintech market and the diversity of investment options open to startups at the moment is the phenomenal success seen by Funding Circle. Quite simply Funding Circle is a peer-to-peer lending service which is described by many as a ‘marketplace for business funding’. Over the course of 2015 it has experienced rapid growth unprecedented in its five-year history, securing over £95M of funding in the second quarter of the year and growing some 2491% since last December. This figure placed it at number 8 in Deloitte's list of fastest growing tech businesses of 2015. In the 4 years to January 2014 it had successfully facilitated £600m in loans, but its popularity has skyrocketed in 2015 with up to £1bn of loans being made in the last 12 months alone.
Already making waves on the tech startup scene Juke Deck gained a wider audience this year after being named overall winners at Techcrunch Disrupt. Duke Deck uses artificial intelligence technology to manually create unique, copyright-free music for every imaginable purpose, from YouTube videos to elevator music. Their fittingly creative and highly imaginative pitch at the event took the form of a rap which turned them into mini social media stars for the day, and got the whole of the tech / startup world talking about their amazing startup. 2015 has been a great year for them, kicking off with a £500,000 investment and ending with a major award, this is definitely one British startup to keep an eye on next year.
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer and lead copywriter at Startacus.net.
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