Most Promising Startups of 2021, According to Top VCs | #relationshipscams | #dating


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Alloy: an operating system for banks and fintechs

Kais Khimji is a partner at Sequoia.

Courtesy of Kais Khimji


Startup: Alloy

Recommended by: Kais Khimji, Sequoia

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $57.5 million

What it does: Alloy helps financial firms collect customer data from various sources so they can verify their identities and onboard faster. It keeps bad actors out of the financial system.

Why it’s on the list: Investors are pouring money into companies that streamline manual processes for banks, as many firms look to upgrade their aging technology infrastructure.

“The number of identity and verification data sources will only continue to explode. Alloy is becoming the single pane of glass to manage these data sources and customize KYC workflows to onboard any given customer segment quickly and safely,” Khimji said, referring to “know your customer” processes.

Alpaca: an API for stock trading

Cindy Bi of CapitalX

Cindy Bi is the founder and general partner at CapitalX.

Courtesy of Cindy Bi


Startup: Alpaca

Recommended by: Cindy Bi, CapitalX

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $22 million

What it does: Alpaca’s products allow companies to add commission-free stock trading to their own products. Imagine if Stripe were a brokerage on top of being a payments-processing company.

Why it’s on the list: Alpaca is growing quickly, recording “more than a couple of billion dollars” in stock transactions every month, Bi said. The company has persuaded some of the top minds in fintech to invest, including former C-suite executives at Square, Robinhood, and Coinbase.

The newest product — “long-awaited” by developers, Bi said — is a brokerage application programming interface, so developers can build brokerages into their apps. It lets customers open accounts and trade.

Bedrock Ocean: robotics mapping the ocean floor

Brad Svrluga, Co founder and General Partner

Brad Svrluga is a cofounder and general partner at Primary Venture Partners.

Courtesy of Brad Svrluga


Startup: Bedrock Ocean

Recommended by: Brad Svrluga, Primary Venture Partners

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $7.8 million

What it does: Bedrock Ocean uses robotic submarines to map the ocean floor. The startup has been called the SpaceX of the ocean because of its pioneering work in the deep blue.

Why it’s on the list: The information the company collects has numerous applications. One of the most critical is planning for offshore wind farms, where windmills are built in the ocean, Svrluga said.

“This team, with backgrounds ranging from naval architecture to SpaceX, is building transformational technology that will enable gathering the essential data for building offshore wind at a fraction of the price — a major climate priority of the Biden administration,” he said.

Calm: a sleep and meditation app

Anis Uzzaman

Anis Uzzaman is a cofounder and general partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures.

https://www.anisuzzaman.com/



Startup: Calm

Recommended by: Anis Uzzaman, Pegasus Tech Ventures; Hans Tung, GGV Capital

Relationship: Uzzaman is an investor; Tung has no financial interest

Total funding: $191.2 million

What it does: Calm is an app with a library of content to help its users relax and sleep, including guided meditations, audiobooks, and soothing sounds.

Why it’s on the list: The pandemic shone a spotlight on wellness and mental health. Calm was already one of the biggest names in wellness tech, and it’s poised to expand as the world emerges from pandemic lockdowns, Uzzaman said.

Before the start of the year, it scored a $2 billion valuation in its Series C round.

“Mental health is often overlooked yet is among the most important aspects of healthcare,” Tung said.

“The impact it made on mental health is here to stay,” Uzzaman added.

Cockroach Labs: software for managing cloud databases

Jake Seid

Jake Seid is the managing director of Stone Bridge Ventures.

Courtesy of Jake Seid


Startup: Cockroach Labs

Recommended by: Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $355.1 million

What it does: Cockroach Labs is the maker of CockroachDB, a popular distributed database for building cloud applications that can survive anything.

Why it’s on the list: “Pretty simple: The world is moving to the cloud, and Cockroach made a cloud-scale SQL database,” Seid said. “Simple to say, but very, very hard to do.”

The startup took in $160 million in new funding from investors such as Altimeter Capital, GV, Benchmark, Index Ventures, and Tiger Global in January, doubling its valuation to $2 billion.

Cresta: artificial intelligence for call centers

Kais Khimji Sequoia Headshot Color

Kais Khimji is a partner at Sequoia.

Courtesy of Kais Khimji


Startup: Cresta

Recommended by: Kais Khimji, Sequoia; Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures

Relationship: Khimji and Seid are both investors

Total funding: $77.1 million

What it does: Cresta creates artificial-intelligence software that helps customer-service and sales agents improve their interactions with customers and boost their productivity.

Why it’s on the list: Its founders include two Stanford Ph.D. dropouts — sound familiar? — and a robotics and computer-science legend. Zayd Enam and Tim Shi studied under Sebastian Thrun, who developed the technology for Google’s self-driving car.

“We’re entering a golden age for conversational AI, and the contact center is the ideal application for it,” Khimji said.

“The technology was originally developed for sales and support functions that were done via chat messages. However, 2021 saw the launch and commercial deployment of the technology for voice calls as well,” Seid said.

Dandy: a secret weapon for dental professionals

David Beisel

David Beisel is a cofounder and partner at NextView Ventures.

NextView Ventures


Startup: Dandy

Recommended by: David Beisel, NextView Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $4.3 million

What it does: Dandy helps dental offices combine in-person visits and virtual care.

Why it’s on the list: People can buy dental services such as teeth aligners online without ever seeing a dentist. But they may sacrifice quality of care. Dandy wants to marry the best of both worlds.

“The company offers dentists something rare in their industry: a single, streamlined lab for items from crowns to dentures to aligners, replacing hours of management-by-paper relationship monitoring for each dental practice across a collection of regional boutique labs,” Beisel said.

Deel: a payroll service for global workforces

aj solimine

A.J. Solimine is a cofounder and managing partner of 122 West Ventures.

122 West Ventures


Startup: Deel

Recommended by: A.J. Solimine, 122 West Ventures; Itamar Novick, Life360

Relationship: Novick is an investor; Solimine has no financial interest

Total funding: $204.5 million

What it does: Deel provides a service to make payroll and compliance easier for companies with employees in different countries.

Why it’s on the list: Expanding internationally sounds exciting until it comes to details such as taxes and local laws. Deel strives to alleviate those issues.

Both VCs said the pandemic has encouraged companies to hire from anywhere, even abroad. “Deel is leading the charge to help onboard and manage your international workforce,” Solimine said.

“COVID-19 was a significant catalyst,” Novick said. “But the distributed-work movement has just begun, and Deel is in the driver’s seat.”

Dexterity: robotics for industrial automation

Grace Chou

Grace Chou is a principal at Felicis Ventures.

Courtesy of Grace Chou


Startup: Dexterity

Recommended by: Grace Chou, Felicis Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $72.3 million

What it does: Dexterity is building intelligent robots that can pick up objects and pack boxes for logistics and warehousing companies, which would allow employees to focus on higher-level tasks.

Why it’s on the list: Dexterity rocketed out of stealth mode last summer with $56.2 million in funding from top-tier investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Obvious Ventures.

“COVID has accelerated the pace of adoption for industrial robotics and automation, and Dexterity has reinvented every aspect of the robotic stack,” Chou said. The company has “phenomenal speed of deployment and commercial traction” to boot, she added.

Dorian: an interactive storytelling platform

Li Jin

Li Jin is the founder and managing partner of Atelier Ventures.

Courtesy of Li Jin


Startup: Dorian

Recommended by: Li Jin, Atelier Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $5.4 million

What it does: Dorian lets creators build their own interactive stories and then provides them with analytics to better monetize.

Why it’s on the list: Dorian is a new addition to the booming creator economy — and a potentially lucrative one. The company told TechCrunch that in tests of 50,000 players, writers were able to increase monetization by 70% after one or two iterations.

Jin said that readers and followers will love the improved creative content, too.

“For fans, Dorian has thoughtfully constructed a new form of social content consumption,” she said.

Dutchie: retail software for the cannabis industry

Sam Fort

Sam Fort is a partner at DFJ Growth.

Courtesy of Sam Fort


Startup: Dutchie

Recommended by: Sam Fort, DFJ Growth

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $253 million

What it does: Dutchie, in Bend, Oregon, uses software to connect cannabis consumers to local dispensaries. Retailers gain analytics to attract, target, and retain customers.

Why it’s on the list: In March, the company closed a monster round of $200 million in funding from Tiger Global, Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital, DFJ Growth, and others, boosting its valuation to $1.7 billion.

It also recently acquired software developers LeafLogix and Greenbits.

“Dutchie is in a great position to be the leading consumer-facing platform for the high-growth legal cannabis market,” Fort said.

Foundation: an NFT marketplace

jeff morris jr chapter one ventures

Jeff Morris Jr. is the founder and general partner of Chapter One Ventures.

Chapter One Ventures


Startup: Foundation

Recommended by: Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $10 million

What it does: Foundation is a curated platform for non-fungible tokens. Users buy and sell NFTs auction-style, with some pieces going for thousands of dollars.

Why it’s on the list: For a few months, it seemed like everyone was getting rich off NFTs. Over $2 billion worth of NFTs — unique files minted on blockchain technology — were sold in the first quarter of this year, NonFungible.com reported. But as millions of NFTs were created, experts became worried about copyright issues, stolen images, and scams.

Foundation has maintained high-quality pieces by curating its market, becoming a go-to platform for notable NFTs such as the Nyan Cat and a column from The New York Times.

“As NFT markets become noisier and more bubbly, a flight to quality will drive more artists and collectors to Foundation this year,” Morris said.

Gatheround: virtual events for the remote workforce

James cham

James Cham is a partner at Bloomberg Beta.

Bloomberg Beta


Startup: Gatheround

Recommended by: James Cham, Bloomberg Beta

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $3.5 million

What it does: Gatheround’s app was built for a remote world. It brings coworkers together online through team building, happy hours, weekly reflections, and more.

Why it’s on the list: The workforce may never be the same, even after offices reopen, so companies are using Gatheround to virtually build culture and strengthen teams.

“In an era of

Zoom
and other video-based collaboration, Gatheround built up a loyal customer base that’s held over half a million conversations on the platform,” Cham said.

Instrumental: software for automating factory assembly lines

Anis Uzzaman

Anis Uzzaman is a cofounder and general partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures.

https://www.anisuzzaman.com/



Startup: Instrumental

Recommended by: Anis Uzzaman, Pegasus Tech Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $30.8 million

What it does: Instrumental is building software that automates factory assembly lines, saving billions of dollars in scrap and rework costs.

Why it’s on the list: “Founded by a former Apple lead product design manager and engineer, this company is in the right position at the right time to enable a greater shift toward complete virtual product development and manufacturing,” Uzzaman said.

Kiira Health: a digital women’s clinic

maria velissaris

Maria Velissaris is the founder and managing partner of SteelSky Ventures.

SteelSky Ventures


Startup: Kiira Health

Recommended by: Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: Undisclosed

What it does: Kiira Health is a virtual women’s health clinic for college students.

Why it’s on the list: There’s no shortage of telemedicine companies focused on remote patients, but few are thinking seriously about college-age women, Velissaris said.

Enter Kiira Health, which is bringing quality care to young women via virtual clinics.

“Healthcare is not one size fits all, and the approach that Kiira takes to help connect women to real and accurate information, and culturally competent care in various formats, can transform healthcare engagement for college women,” Velissaris said.

Loom: an alternative to long emails

eric tarczynski

Eric Tarczynski is the founder and managing partner of Contrary Capital.

Contrary Capital


Startup: Loom

Recommended by: Eric Tarczynski, Contrary Capital

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $198.2 million

What it does: Loom is a video-messaging app that lets users record short videos instead of typing long emails or spending time in meetings.

Why it’s on the list: Loom has taken off as more people seek tools to help get work done during the pandemic. It has more than 10 million users at 120,000 companies, including

Netflix
, Atlassian, and Procter & Gamble.

“It’s an essential tool for remote teams and has experienced hockey-stick growth because of that,” Tarczynski said.

Mae: a digital service for Black women’s maternal health

Casey Santiago

Casey Santiago is a managing director at Founders Factory.

Courtesy of Casey Santiago


Startup: Mae

Recommended by: Casey Santiago, Founders Factory; Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures

Relationship: Santiago and Velissaris are both investors

Total funding: N/A

What it does: Mae is a digital service connecting Black expectant mothers with maternal care, such as doulas and birth-planning tools.

Why it’s on the list: Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Mae, which launched in January, provides Black women with “culturally competent care,” connecting them with experts who understand their unique healthcare struggles and can advocate for them.

“They are addressing a national crisis and huge need in the market for communities that have been overlooked,” Velissaris said.

Mantl: an account-opening solution for financial firms

Jesse Wedler, CapitalG

Jesse Wedler is a partner at CapitalG.

CapitalG


Startup: Mantl

Recommended by: Jesse Wedler, CapitalG

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $61 million

What it does: Mantl is changing how legacy banks and

credit unions
create and open new accounts for customers, making the process entirely digital.

Why it’s on the list: Smaller banks have been forced to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, and fintechs such as Mantl are playing a critical role in their digital transformation, Wedler said.

“Catalyzed by COVID, every bank is looking for technology partners that can enable a fully digital experience,” he said.

Maro: a digital service for children’s mental health

Casey Santiago

Casey Santiago is a managing director at Founders Factory.

Courtesy of Casey Santiago


Startup: Maro

Recommended by: Casey Santiago, Founders Factory

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: Undisclosed

What it does: Maro is an app providing mental-health resources to parents and children.

Why it’s on the list: Maro guided parents through a tumultuous year, creating modules for children that explained things such as anxiety and

mindfulness
.

“I am convinced it will keep our children healthier, happy, and safer, and help us as parents navigate this journey,” Santiago said.

Material Bank: a logistics startup disrupting the architecture industry

Mitchell Green

Mitchell Green is the founder and managing partner of Lead Edge Capital.

Lead Edge Capital


Startup: Material Bank

Recommended by: Mitchell Green, Lead Edge Capital

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $148.8 million

What it does: Material Bank is a marketplace for design materials that promises to ship design samples overnight from its Tennessee warehouse.

Why it’s on the list: The startup, which has been described as the Amazon of design, has a warehouse operated by robots next to FedEx’s global shipping hub.

Material Bank recently raised $100 million from General Catalyst, Bain, and others to double down on growth.

“Ordering samples is a broken process, and Material Bank makes it vastly easier. As a result, users love it,” said Green, calling the company a “market leader” in a large, new category.

Meroxa: a real-time data service

Gabby Cazeau

Gabby Cazeau is a principal at Harlem Capital.

Harlem Capital


Startup: Meroxa

Recommended by: Gabby Cazeau, Harlem Capital; James Cham, Bloomberg Beta

Relationship: Cazeau and Cham both have no financial interest

Total funding: $18.4 million

What it does: Meroxa is a software that lets companies quickly and efficiently create data infrastructure.

Why it’s on the list: Meroxa’s website reassures users that it will handle “all the plumbing so you can worry about what matters.” VCs are sold: The startup raised a $15 million Series A round in April, with investment from Drive Capital, Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, and Index Ventures.

“Ultimately, developers want power, speed, and flexibility for their data infrastructure,” Cazeau said. “Meroxa provides that and an exceptional user experience.”

“Meroxa is a real-time data platform that gives data teams the tools they need to build real-time infrastructure in minutes,” Cham said.

MX: a way to streamline financial data

Derek Zanutto

Derek Zanutto is a general partner at CapitalG.

CapitalG


Startup: MX

Recommended by: Derek Zanutto, CapitalG

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $451 million

What it does: MX gathers financial data from millions of customers to predict what users need most.

Why it’s on the list: MX is already a formidable force in the fintech world. It works with over 2,000 financial institutions and 43 of the top 50

digital banking
providers, said Ryan Caldwell, a cofounder. With a $1.9 billion valuation, the startup became a unicorn in January.

“Fintechs and financial institutions have described MX as truly transformative to their businesses,” Zanutto said. “We believe that the sky is the limit to what MX can accomplish.”

Persona: the aspiring “identity layer of the internet”

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Courtesy of Will Kohler


Startup: Persona

Recommended by: Will Kohler, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $67.6 million

What it does: Persona is an all-in-one identity-infrastructure company. It helps businesses securely collect, verify, manage, and make decisions about customers’ identities.

Why it’s on the list: In the past year, the company has increased its customer base by more than five times, adding clients such as Square, Robinhood, Udemy, Gusto, BlockFi, and AngelList.

“Fast-growing businesses across many sectors have a delightful experience while deploying identity solutions across numerous use cases,” Kohler said. “You don’t hear this often.”

Persona plans to use the recent $50 million fundraise to double the size of its staff by year’s end.

Pipe: a new way for startups to get funded

jeff morris jr chapter one ventures

Jeff Morris Jr. is the founder and general partner of Chapter One Ventures.

Chapter One Ventures


Startup: Pipe

Recommended by: Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One Ventures; Cindy Bi, CapitalX

Relationship: Morris is an investor; Bi has no financial interest

Total funding: $316 million

What it does: Pipe helps companies with recurring revenue get capital upfront. It connects these companies with partners who buy the companies’ contracts at a discount, which allows startups to get immediate funding without giving up equity.

Why it’s on the list: When Pipe raised $50 million in March, Harry Hurst, a cofounder, told TechCrunch that it wasn’t about the money; it was about the connections.

Pipe already has over 3,000 clients, the startup said, but this newest round brought companies such as

Slack
, Shopify, and Okta onto its cap table.

Pipe is “allowing companies to access financing without debt or dilution,” Bi said.

Morris said, “They’re now one degree of separation from millions of customers who can use the product and are poised for a breakout year.”

Postscript: text messaging for Shopify stores

Mike Duboe, Greylock

Mike Duboe is a general partner at Greylock Partners.

Greylock Partners


Startup: Postscript

Recommended by: Mike Duboe, Greylock Partners

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $51.9 million

What it does: Built for Shopify stores, Postscript helps merchants keep in touch with their customers through text-message marketing, in order to drive new revenue.

Why it’s on the list: The company has seen aggressive growth in the past year, with Shopify stores sending hundreds of millions of text messages through its product and generating around $500 million in attributed revenue.

“Postscript takes a platform approach to expanding the surface area of what can be done with the SMS channel. It just recently launched ‘Postscript Pay,’ allowing consumers to purchase directly from SMS,” said Duboe, a Postscript board member, referring to Short Message Service, a technical term for text messages.

Ramp: a corporate card and spend-management platform

Jesse Wedler, CapitalG

Jesse Wedler is a partner at CapitalG.

CapitalG


Startup: Ramp

Recommended by: Jesse Wedler, CapitalG; Eric Tarczynski, Contrary Capital; Delian Asparouhov, Founders Fund.

Relationship: Wedler has no financial interest; Tarczynski and Asparouhov are investors

Total funding: $115 million

What it does: Ramp is a corporate credit card that competes with Brex and American Express to help companies save money on duplicate accounts or subscriptions.

Why it’s on the list: “Ramp is the ‘second rodeo’ for the founders and previously sold Paribus, another fintech company, to Capital One,” Tarczynski said.

Wedler said it “helps companies save both time and money.”

Keith Rabois, a partner at Founders Fund, is also an investor and Ramp board member.

Ruby Love: period apparel

maria velissaris

Maria Velissaris is the founder and managing partner of SteelSky Ventures.

SteelSky Ventures


Startup: Ruby Love

Recommended by: Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: Undisclosed

What it does: Ruby Love makes period underwear and swimwear that offers both absorption and protection against leaks and stains, so women can ditch disposable pads and tampons.

Why it’s on the list: The company raised an undisclosed amount of new funding in April, adding to the $15 million it previously took in from The Craftory, a venture-capital firm in London and San Francisco.

Ruby Love “has an opportunity to be a leader in the new category of period apparel and provide sustainable solutions in countries and communities that cannot access or afford menstrual products,” Velissaris said.

Sanity: a platform for building data-driven content

Mitchell Green

Mitchell Green is the founder and managing partner of Lead Edge Capital.

Lead Edge Capital


Startup name: Sanity

Recommended by: Mitchell Green, Lead Edge Capital; Josh Stein, Threshold Ventures

Relationship: Green has no financial interest; Stein is an investor

Total funding: $9.3 million

What it does: Sanity is a management platform that helps businesses build data-driven content.

Why it’s on the list: Sanity is already used by National Geographic, Figma, and Nike.

“Sanity goes beyond the traditional CMS and allows you to build modern digital experiences,” Green said.

Stein added that it’s “designed for delivering structured content to products and devices.”

Solana: a blockchain platform

garry tan

Garry Tan is a cofounder and managing partner at Initialized Capital.

Initialized Capital


Startup name: Solana

Recommended by: Garry Tan, Initialized Capital

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $60.1 million

What it does: Solana is a blockchain that enables smart contracts and decentralized finance.

Why it’s on the list: Solana is attracting “next-level crypto developers” to build on its platform, Tan said.

Soona: virtual photo shoots for brands

Rebecca Kaden

Rebecca Kaden is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures.

Courtesy of Rebecca Kaden


Startup: Soona

Recommended by: Rebecca Kaden, Union Square Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $15.7 million

What it does: Soona offers photo and video services for companies and lets them direct shoots from a remote location.

Why it’s on the list: The shift to digital means companies have to spiff up their online presence, but professional-looking content can be costly.

Soona not only makes the process more efficient but also provides insight into what types of photos and videos perform best, Kaden said. It gives the startup a “data-driven superpower,” she added.

Sprout Therapy: in-home autism care

Grace Chou

Grace Chou is a principal at Felicis Ventures.

Courtesy of Grace Chou


Startup name: Sprout Therapy

Recommended by: Grace Chou, Felicis Ventures; Stuart Ellman, RRE Ventures

Relationship: Chou is an investor; Ellman has no financial interest

Total funding: $34.2 million

What it does: Sprout Therapy provides tech-enabled in-home autism care.

Why it’s on the list: “In the US, there are over 1.5 million children with autism,” Chou said, and on average, it takes families 18 to 36 months to put their children into care today.”

Ellman praised the company as a “great idea.”

Staircase: an API for the mortgage industry

Stuart Ellman

Stuart Ellman is a cofounder and managing partner of RRE Ventures.

Courtesy of Stuart Ellman


Startup: Staircase

Recommended by: Stuart Ellman, RRE Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $22.9 million

What it does: Staircase works with mortgage companies to reduce the cost and time it takes to buy a home using software. The company has been described as Plaid for real-estate lenders.

Why it’s on the list: Staircase is at the intersection of two categories that took off during the pandemic: proptech and fintech. The company is growing its team with a new $18 million in funding from undisclosed investors.

“Huge market, huge need, great team,” said Ellman, who is on the board.

Step: banking products for teens

Jake Seid

Jake Seid is the managing director of Stone Bridge Ventures.

Courtesy of Jake Seid


Startup: Step

Recommended by: Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $175 million

What it does: Step is a digital bank for teenagers that offers secured credit cards and an app.

Why it’s on the list: Step is putting teens on the path to financial independence with a Visa-powered secured credit card that they can use via a card and mobile wallets.

The company is working with — and raising money from — influencers such as TikTok megastar Charli D’Amelio, Steph Curry, The Chainsmokers, and Will Smith to spread the word about the app.

Step is experiencing fast growth and has attracted a lot of VC investment because it teaches kids about money “with an incredible consumer experience,” Seid said.

Traceable: protection from cyberattacks

Oren Yunger

Oren Yunger is a principal at GGV Capital.

GGV Capital


Startup: Traceable

Recommended by: Oren Yunger, GGV Capital

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $20 million

What it does: Traceable is a cybersecurity startup that helps companies ensure that the application programming interfaces they use are secure.

Why it’s on the list: In today’s world, where cloud apps run on different servers and talk to each other via APIs, the API can become a weak spot in protection.

Traceable — which came out of stealth with $20 million in funding last year and was founded by Jyoti Bansal, the founder of AppDynamics — uses AI to study how APIs are supposed to work. It alerts the company when they behave out of character.

“Traceable solves one of the biggest problem security teams face, which is distinguishing between valid and malicious use of an application’s APIs,” Yunger said.

Transcend: a way to give users control over their data

aj solimine

A.J. Solimine is a cofounder and managing partner of 122 West Ventures.

122 West Ventures


Startup: Transcend

Recommended by: A.J. Solimine, 122 West Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding: $29.5 million

What it does: Transcend is a data-privacy startup that lets users see how apps are using their personal data.

Why it’s on the list: With stories of data breaches becoming all too common, consumers are more worried about how their personal data is used. Transcend can help, Solimine said.

“They build data-privacy infrastructure that empowers individuals to reclaim control of their data and helps companies comply with global data-privacy laws,” said Solimine, the first investor.

Zipline: drone delivery of medical supplies

bill tai

Bill Tai is an angel investor also known as Kite VC.

Courtesy of Bill Tai


Startup: Zipline

Recommended by: Bill Tai, Kite VC; Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures

Relationship: Tai has no financial interest; Seid is an investor.

Total funding: $521 million

What it does: Zipline operates a drone-delivery service primarily for medical supplies. It first began operating in Rwanda and Ghana in 2016.

Why it’s on the list: Zipline’s services have been instrumental in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine and other medical supplies during the pandemic.

The company also recently inked partnerships with Toyota to deliver medical supplies to remote areas of Japan; with Nigeria’s Kaduna State for COVID-19 vaccines; and with Walmart to test the on-demand delivery of health products.

“Zipline has an opportunity to take its substantial experience in drone delivery to the US market this year and really kick-start a broader trend of drone delivery of e-commerce orders throughout this country,” Seid said.

Zwift: an online fitness app

Josh Stein

Josh Stein is a cofounder and managing partner at Threshold Ventures.

Courtesy of Josh Stein


Startup: Zwift

Recommended by: Josh Stein, Threshold Ventures

Relationship: No financial interest

Total funding: $629 million

What it does: Zwift is an online fitness app for cycling and running where users can immerse themselves in 3D-generated worlds.

Why it’s on the list: At-home fitness became all the rage during the pandemic as people looked for more ways to work out at home. Zwift benefited from this trend: Last fall, it raised a $450 million round led by the investment firm KKR.

“As a result of the pandemic, we all shifted our exercise routines to activities we could do in the safety of our homes,” Stein said. “The trend of remote training, coaching, and competitive sports will continue beyond COVID.”

Since it was founded in 2015, more than 2.5 million users have signed up to use the app, TechCrunch reported.



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