The 10 best Startups launched in 2014

10beststartups2014

2014 was a great year for consumer tech, I decided to take inspiration from a Business Insider post and share the best startups that launched this year.

When looking at the best startups, don’t forget to take into account factors like funding, revenue, growth, and investor interest.

Did you know anyone of these startups? What’s your favorite? I love Alfred and Shyp!

 

1. GLAMSQUAD brings hair salon-quality blowouts to your apartment.

GLAMSQUAD brings hair salon-quality blowouts to your apartment.

Glamsquad

What it is: GLAMSQUAD co-founder Victoria Eisner got the idea for her startup on New Year’s Eve one year. Despite using on-demand services to plan the rest of her evening — Uber to go to her event and Rent The Runway for her dress — but she couldn’t find a startup that would bring a blow-out appointment and beauty styling to her door. With GLAMSQUAD’s app, you press a button and a stylist will show up at your home to blow dry your hair ($50) or do your makeup ($75). A few months ago, GLAMSQUAD hired Gilt Groupe co-founder Alexandra Wilkis Wilson as its CEO.

Launch date: GLAMSQUAD launched in New York City in January, and also recently launched in Los Angeles and Miami.

Funding: GLAMSQUAD raised $2 million in seed funding in January, and in October, the startup raised another $7 million from Softbank Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, BBG Ventures, and Montage Ventures.

Website: www.glamsquad.com

 

2. Spring is the Instagram for shopping.

Spring is the Instagram for shopping.

iTunes

What it is: Angel investor David Tisch has funded startups like Harry’s, Kitchensurfing, and Flatiron Health, but he took a stab at cofounding a startup this year with Spring. Spring is sort of like the Instagram for shopping: you swipe through lifestyle pictures, not just flat pictures of products, and you can purchase anything you see in the app with a few taps. Apple just named Spring one of the best apps of 2014.

Launch date: Spring launched in August.

Funding: Spring raised a $7.5 million Series A round in July. The round was led by Thrive Capital, Groupe Arnault and Box Group. Other investors include Founder Collective, Google Ventures, SV Angel, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

Website: shopspring.com

3. DWNLD makes apps easy to make, customize and get published in the App Store.

DWNLD makes apps easy to make, customize and get published in the App Store.

Business Insider Australia

DWNLD co-founder Alexandra Keating.

What it is: DWNLD is to apps what WordPress is to websites: it’s a startup that lets anyone create an app quickly and cheaply and put it in the App Store. DWNLD was founded by angel investor Fritz Lanman and Alexandra Keating. DWNLD’s service costs $15 a month, and lets its users customize apps with easy design tools. Publishers also have the option of turning on iAds to monetize their apps.

Launch date: DWNLD launched in September.

Funding: DWNLD has quietly raised $2 million in seed funding from WME, Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund, The Chernin Group, Gordon Crawford, and other media executives.

Website: dwnld.me

4. Ello is the ad-free, anti-Facebook social network.

Ello is the ad-free, anti-Facebook social network.

paulbudnitz.com

Ello founder Paul Budnitz.

What it is: Ello is a minimalist social network that promises no advertisements. In fact, Ello even has a manifesto that states the social network will never sell your personal information to advertisers. Ello is free to use, but you can pay for new features. Ello has become a community for finance reporters and analysts recently, too. Budnitz told Business Insider in October that at the time, Ello already had more than 1 million users, and 40,000 to 50,000 new signups per hour during its initial frenzy.

Launch date: Ello launched in invite-only beta mode in August.

Funding: Ello raised $5.5 million in venture funding led by Foundry Group in October.

Website: ello.co

5. Curbside lets you order stuff on your phone and pick it up at the store without leaving your car.

Curbside lets you order stuff on your phone and pick it up at the store without leaving your car.

Curbside/screenshot

What it is: Curbside lets you buy stuff from brick-and-mortar stores on your phone. Instead of waiting for delivery, you pick up your purchases from the store — curbside — without ever having to get out of your car. When it launched, Curbside had partnered with retailers including Target, and was only operational in the San Francisco Bay area. Next year, the startup plans to expand to 15 markets.

Launch date: Curbside launched in October with apps for Apple and Android.

Funding: In October, Curbside raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures with participation from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Chicago Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, and angel investors. Since its founding, Curbside has raised $9.5 million.

Website: www.shopcurbside.com

 

6. Shyp sends your packages for you, so you never have to step foot in the post office.

Shyp sends your packages for you, so you never have to step foot in the post office.

Kyle Russell/Business Insider

What it is: Shyp takes all the hassle out of shipping packages. Instead of taking a package to UPS, FedEx, or the post office, Shyp lets you take a picture of whatever you want to send. A driver picks up the package in minutes, and you’re done. Shyp comparison-shops across the carriers and charges you the lowest price for shipping.

Launch date: Shyp launched in San Francisco in March, in New York in September, and in Miami in November. The company says the startup’s rollout will continue next year in Los Angeles.

Funding: Shyp raised $2.1 million in seed funding in September 2013 from Fresh VC, Winklevoss Capital, SherpaVentures, Homebrew, and notable angel investors. In July, the startup raised $10 million in a Series A round of funding from SherpaVentures and Shervin Pishevar.

Website: www.shyp.com

7. Jet.com is Marc Lore’s mysterious “Amazon-killer” e-commerce website.

Jet.com is Marc Lore's mysterious "Amazon-killer" e-commerce website.

Quidsi

Jet.com CEO Marc Lore.

What it is: Marc Lore, an e-commerce veteran who used to be CEO of Quidsi — the website behind Diapers.com — has been working on a mysterious, stealthy new e-commerce startup called Jet, which is rumored to be an Amazon-killer. Lore has promised Jet will be a “new kind of e-commerce experience, uniquely grounded in transparency and customer empowerment.”

Launch date: While Jet hasn’t officially launched yet, it has announced it would offer shares of stock to early users. How it works: you sign up on Jet’s website, you’ll get early access and a six-month membership to the website for free. You’ll also receive a link to send to others to convince them to sign up. The person with the most referrals will receive 100,000 shares of stock, and the ten people with the most referrals will receive 10,000 shares each.

Funding: In July, Jet raised $55 million from High Peaks Venture Partners, MentorTech Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Accel Partners, and New Enterprise Associates. In September, Jet raised $25 million from Western Technology Investment and Silicon Valley Bank to round out its Series A round of funding.

Website: jet.com

 

8. Mink lets you 3D print customized makeup from your home computer.

Mink lets you 3D print customized makeup from your home computer.

Mink/Vimeo

Mink’s Grace Choi.

What it is: Grace Choi is taking on the $55 billion cosmetics industry with Mink. Choi first presented her idea for Mink at TechCrunch Disrupt in May. “The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bulls—.” She said at TechCrunch Disrupt. “They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.” Mink is a printer that attaches to your home computer, camera, or phone to print customizable makeup. You can request an invite for a Mink printer on Mink’s website. When it becomes available, it’ll cost $300.

Founding date: Mink was founded in 2014.

Funding: Mink is a bootstrapped startup. Choi has not raised any venture capital money for Mink, and has said that she’s not interested in doing so.

Website: gracemink.com

9. Alfred is your affordable, personal butler.

Alfred is your affordable, personal butler.

Shutterstock.com

What it is: Alfred, which won TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September, takes on-demand startups to the next level by offering a butler for $99 a month. Alfred first asks invited users to take a short quiz so the service can learn a bit about you. Then, you get assigned a butler — an Alfred.

After working out a schedule, your Alfred will stop by and take care of all your chores: sorting mail, folding clothes, picking up your laundry, and cleaning your house. Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck came up with the idea for the startup for a Harvard Business School class project. They realized the business potential it had, and left school to work on it.

Launch date: Alfred launched in September at TechCrunch Disrupt SF.

Funding: In November Alfred raised $2 million in seed funding from CrunchFund, SV Angel, and Spark Capital.

Website: www.helloalfred.com

 

10. Casper takes all the headache out of buying a new mattress.

Casper takes all the headache out of buying a new mattress.

Casper

What it is: Casper was founded to simplify the process of getting a mattress. Instead of a traditional mattress you’d buy at Sleepy’s, Casper stuffs a big, fluffy mattress into a box and delivers it right to your door. In New York City, Casper says it’ll deliver your mattress in two hours. Casper’s mattresses come in six sizes and cost between $500 and $950 with a 10-year warranty. Casper told Business Insider the company was profitable on its first day of business, doing $1 million in sales in its first 28 days.

Launch date: Casper launched in April.

Funding: In January Casper raised a $1.9 million round of seed funding from QueensBridge Venture Partners, Correlation Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Vaizra Investments, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners. In August, Casper raised $13.1 million in a Series A round of funding from Kevin Colleran, Slow Ventures, Vaizra Investments, Crosslink Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Cendana Capital, Silas Capital, Consigliere Brand Capital, SV Angel, A-Grade Investments, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates.

Website: casper.com

 

Social is more important than Search, bigger than most TV networks and deeply interconnected with Mobile

Although it is still relatively new as far as media entities go, BuzzFeed has become one of the leading new-media players, thanks in large part to its command of the social web, an ability to craft viral content and a large fan base among millennials. True to form, the company has created a visually-rich index of factsabout its size and reach — numbers which help explain how it was able to raise $50 million in a recent financing round.

As a caveat, it’s worth noting that the presentation is clearly designed to be a sales pitch for the company’s native advertising efforts, and so there are no links to or discussion of any of the data used to compile the charts. Most of the figures come courtesy of the site’s Google Analytics data, or from firms like Nielsen and comScore.

One of the core principles behind BuzzFeed is that social sharing is more important than search, so it’s no surprise that the main driver of traffic (which is estimated to be about 150 million unique visitors per month) is social — in fact, the company says that its social traffic is five times larger than its search traffic.

Search vs. Social2

Although social has grown to become one of the leading sources of traffic to most web content, the advertising industry still hasn’t quite caught up to this development, as shown by a BuzzFeed graph courtesy of eMarketer and Shareaholic — which says that social accounts for 30 percent of referral traffic but only 14 percent of advertising budgets.

Search vs. social

The other major shift in content consumption is mobile, and according to BuzzFeed the two are interconnected, in the sense that a majority of the site’s social traffic comes from mobile, and its share rates on mobile are twice as high as they are from its desktop users.

Mobile and social

BuzzFeed said mobile also accounts for a rapidly growing amount of video consumption, including 50 percent of all the video that the site produces, and this is particularly the case among millennial users. As a result of its focus on that market, BuzzFeed says that its reach is larger than several leading TV networks, including Fox, CNN and MTV — and among millennials it is larger still, putting the site ahead of most of the major networks, including NBC.

BuzzFeed reach

Obviously, BuzzFeed’s statistics are designed to promote its advertising appeal. And as with any form of web measurement, the sources it has chosen have their flaws — Google Analytics has a tendency to over-estimate certain kinds of traffic, while Nielsen and comScore have a tendency to under-estimate other kinds, including traffic from corporate networks (and BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has said one of his secret weapons is the “bored at work” network).

Some of the conclusions suggested by the BuzzFeed numbers are also debatable: for example, some media analysts argue that social is not as good as search — even if the raw traffic number is larger — because search is a better indicator of purchasing intent. As for video views, TV insiders would no doubt argue that their viewership is more loyal than someone watching a viral video on their mobile device.

Those caveats aside, however, the numbers BuzzFeed is generating are still quite impressive for what is still a relatively young company.

[Source: GigaOM and BuzzFeed]

Retail is the Fastest Growing Usage Category on Smartphones in Italy

The latest insights from our comScore Mobile Advisor Study show that the Total Italy Mobile Universe accounted for 48,000,000 users in the three-month average ending November 2013. Smartphone users represent 64.1 percent of the total Italian mobile audience, an increase of 23.5 percent from the previous year.

Mobile commerce is already playing a major role in online retail in Italy. These are some of the key findings:

  • Usage of retail apps and sites showed the strongest year-over-year increase of 74.8 percent, followed by the Health category with 66.6% growth. The e-payments and money transfer category came third with 65.2 percent growth and over 2 Million additional users over the last year.
  • Financial and retail / m-commerce related services belong to the most popular usage categories accessed by Italian smartphone owners. Online retail sites and apps were visited by 23.8 percent of smartphone owners, followed closely by shopping and price guides (22.6 percent).
  • Accessing electronic payments or money transfer services on smartphones has also been popular, with 21.7 percent of Italian smartphone owners using those services in November 2013.

If you would like to access to the full report contact us worldpress@comscore.com

financial-services-and-retail-m-commerce-categories

[Source: ComScore]

The Selfie phenomenon: a brand new research and how a selfie just become the most-retweeted tweet of all time

Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year is also one of the most fascinating movements in social is that of the selfie. Part vanity, part communication, part fun, and part absurdity, selfies represent a new generation of #selfieexpression cum egotistical emoticons…but not necessarily in a bad way. Nevertheless, the psychology and science behind selfies are strangely fascinating and therefore I continue to study and report on its evolution.

Selfiecity, a new research project, studies Instagram data from five cities around the world including Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York, and Sao Paulo. Wired initially reported on Selfiecity’s initial findings. I didn’t want to be selfie’ish with the information so, I’m sharing the highlights with you here.

Right now, there are more than 79 million pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #selfie. You can add another 7 million for #selfies and 1 million for #selfienation. Not counted though, are the number of selfies that don’t include a meta reference beyond the visual that you are indeed looking at a selfie.

Fantastic_Infographics__Drawn_From_A_Study_of_Instagram_Selfies___Wired_Design___Wired_com_2

As you can see, selfies is a form of communication among the (early) twenty somethings.

Fantastic_Infographics__Drawn_From_A_Study_of_Instagram_Selfies___Wired_Design___Wired_com_3

Specifically in NY, more women (61.6%) share selfies than men (36.7%). But then again, there are historically more women active on social media than men as well. The average age for selfie-made women in NY is 23.3 whereas the age skews slightly higher for men at 26.7.

Fantastic_Infographics__Drawn_From_A_Study_of_Instagram_Selfies___Wired_Design___Wired_com_1

I know this is a burning issue for everyone concerned here. Selfiecity also tracked visual cues such as angle of head tilt. Women in Sao Paulo as you can see, were the most expressive with body position and tilt at 17-degrees compared to 10.6-degrees in Bangkok and 11-degrees in New York.

Selfiexploratory

But wait, that’s not all Selfiecity is tracking. You can learn more about poses, the state of eye contact, how many people where glasses, and whether or not people open or close their eyes and mouth in selfies.

In summary:

#noglasses

and…

Eyes wide open…mouth wide shut.

Fantastic_Infographics__Drawn_From_A_Study_of_Instagram_Selfies___Wired_Design___Wired_com

I found this part particularly interesting. Selfiecity is also tracking the mood in each selfie. For the most part, people are happy, which hopefully conveys a positive sense of selfie-esteem or selfie-confidence ;)

In short, women are clearly smiling more than men. I guess that says something…

Additionally the team at Selfiecity learned…

On average, women tend to take more selfies than men. In Moscow, women account for 80% of the selfies. Yet, as people get older, this trend reverses. At or after age 40, men are more likely to take and post selfies than women.

At 150%, women are more likely to tilt their heads in photos over men.

According to Selfiecity’s mood analysis, people in Bangkok and Sao Paulo appear to be happier than people in Moscow. Perhaps it’s just that they’re more selfie-satisfied.

Truth is, yesterday we witnessed a new chapter in selfie’s history as Ellen Degeneres took an amazing shot during Oscar’s night and shared it on Twitter asking the world to make it the “most retweeted selfie” ever.

And she made it in almos no time: the retweets quickly added up. Within 30 minutes it was nearing Barack Obama’s record of 778,800.

Bhxev-iIEAA5AJw

Then, a few minutes later, it happened. Within the hour, the tweet would go on to surpass one million retweets, making it far and beyond the most-retweeted tweet of all time.

But, even though Samsung was all over this  (and the all Academy Awards), backstage, she’s using an Apple product. #EpicFail?

You’ll be telling your grandkids about this one, folks. At least until next year’s Oscars.

[Source: Brian Solis & Mashable]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,689 other followers

%d bloggers like this: