The 10 Most Promising Startups of 2018

Among the crowds of rising startups, there are several that stand out. They have combined innovative ideas with substantial support from private equity firms. Robust business plans and copious financial backing poise these firms for success. Whether they are in the midst of a meteoric rise or have slowly grown into their own, these 10 companies are the startups to watch in 2018.

  1. LimeBike

The dockless bike-sharing company has come a long way since it launched in June 2017. In only a few months, the startup’s bright green bicycles have shown up on the streets of places as diverse as Seattle and Switzerland. The eagerness of venture capital companies to invest in the burgeoning startup spurred its growth, and in less than a year, LimeBike has snagged more than $60 million in funding. The startup currently provides more than 10,000 rides a day in the United States alone.

  1. NIO

The Chinese startup, founded in 2014, is poised to offer Tesla stiff competition in Asia and abroad. The electric car company achieved unicorn status in 2017, roping in more than $1.6 billion in funding. NIO recently debuted their electric SUV, the ES8. It retails at about half the price of Tesla’s basic Model X SUV, spurring speculation that Tesla will have trouble conquering the electric car market in China. NIO plans to use its new funds to develop self-driving cars and expand its operation into the US.

  1. Cloud 9 Perception

If robotics and automation are the future, Cloud 9 Perception is the time machine. Based in Arlington, TX this innovative startup is bringing vision and perception to robotics. Those cool robots at manufacturing plants will soon be aware of their surroundings and act intelligently based on what they see. Cloud 9 Perception develops custom hardware and software for Machine Vision Systems.

  1. American Well

When Roy Schoenberg moved to the US in the 1990s to attend medical school at Harvard, he never imagined that he would one day be the CEO of America’s hottest telehealth startup, American Well. With the help of his brother Ido, Dr. Schoenberg has built the Boston-based company into a juggernaut of modern healthcare tech. The service allows patients to bypass waiting rooms and exam tables by connecting users directly with healthcare providers over the internet. The company recently scored a coup when it inked a lucrative deal with Meuhedet, one of Israel’s largest HMOs.

  1. ByteDance

Owner of China’s popular Toutiao website and app, ByteDance has been busy acquiring hot new properties to expand its purview in 2018. Its most significant purchase to date has been, the video and music startup. According to reports, ByteDance shelled out $1 billion to purchase the video app. They also snagged news aggregator News Republic for $86.6 million. ByteDance hopes to use its latest funding round of $50 million to further expand in Asia and the United States.

  1. Remitly

Co-founded by Indian engineer Shivaas Gulati, Remitly allows users to send money transfers internationally from the convenience of an app. The app currently supports transfers to eight Latin American countries, India, and the Philippines. Based in Seattle, Remitly has attracted favorable attention from venture capital firms. Since its founding in 2011, the company has garnered over $200 million in venture capital funding. In 2017 alone, Remitly raised $215 million, the most significant financing round that year by any Pacific Northwest startup. The firm will use its new capital to expand its operations in the Philippines, where it recently rolled out a new service that allows cruise ship workers to make mobile payments without leaving their ships.

  1. Acko

With over 300 million smartphone users, India is the perfect market for online startups. Mumbai-based insurance startup Acko is targeting millions of mobile phone users who own motorized vehicles. Acko, which launched in 2017, has received a hefty seed round of $30 million from investors like Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO of Infosys, and the Indian branch of American venture capital firm, Accel. Amazon is reportedly in talks with Acko to sign a landmark deal that would allow the online giant to distribute insurance through Acko. The startup is also planning to expand their focus to health insurance and travel insurance.

  1. Lemonade

Although started in 2015, the online insurance company has rapidly expanded into eight states, including California and New York. By providing a handy way to file insurance claims from a simple app, Lemonade has revolutionized the insurance industry. Investors demonstrated their confidence in Lemonade in 2017 with a funding round that reached $120 million. Lemonade intends to use their new funds to expand services to include additional states.

  1. Menlo Security

Based in Menlo Park, California, Menlo Security focuses on cloud-based cybersecurity and malware protection. The startup’s approach to malware prevention gained it attention from Sutter Hill Ventures and General Catalyst, who invested more than $45 million in the growing startup. The company began to gain traction in 2017 when they completed their Series C round of funding and added $40 million in funds. Menlo Security will use their latest funding to expand into Asian and European markets.

  1. Tala

Founded by charismatic CEO Shivani Siroya in 2011, Tala allows users to apply for credit from their smartphone. Rather than researching users’ backgrounds, Tala uses everyday activities to gauge trustworthiness and reliability. Venture capital firms have jumped on board to the tune of $44 million. Investors aren’t the only people attracted to the flourishing startup. Kevin Novak, Uber’s former head of data science, left the beleaguered company in December 2017 to lend his expertise to Tala.

Whether they’re focused on snazzy electric cars or insurance, these startups are ready to break out in 2018. They have combined fresh injections of cash with innovative business strategies to develop their brands. Some may just be starting, while others are ready for an IPO. Whatever the case, these growing startups have promising futures.

Municipalities Going High Tech with Parking Enforcement

New technology is making parking enforcement programs more efficient, and a bit controversial. The traditional tools of gates, decals, fob passes, parking attendants and ‘chalking’ tires are becoming obsolete. Municipalities are under pressure to reduce costs and improve revenues on their parking facilities. Hospitals and universities are trying to maximize their limited available parking while at the same time trying to increase the size of their operations.

A new tool called License Plate Recognition is changing everything. By using cameras to capture license plate numbers almost everything can now be automated. The plates are run through multiple databases and can control everything from expired permits to time and day violations. Unauthorized visitors are quickly identified, and e-ticketed. No parking attendants are needed to write and place the tickets. Stolen cars can be reported immediately.

Hello Big Brother

However, there have been some complaints about Invasion of Privacy and excessive data collection. The systems have been used on Police cars to scan plates in residential neighborhoods. The ACLU has complained about the endless collection of personal data and tracking of vehicles. While Police departments say that tracking license plates can help solve criminal investigations, tracking everyone, without cause, is probably not constitutional.

However, some police departments have reported that mobile readers have been problematic. Some readers will scan everything in sight and report lots of inaccurate data.

So, here we are with another debate over technology, privacy rights and cost efficiency vs. government overreach. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Eventually, new regulations, and the courts, will need to create a proper framework for this new technology.