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.
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.
2. Spring is the Instagram for shopping.
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.
3. DWNLD makes apps easy to make, customize and get published in the App Store.
Business Insider Australia
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.
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.
4. Ello is the ad-free, anti-Facebook social network.
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.
5. Curbside lets you order stuff on your phone and pick it up at the store without leaving your car.
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.
6. 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.
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.
7. Jet.com is Marc Lore’s mysterious “Amazon-killer” e-commerce website.
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.
8. Mink lets you 3D print customized makeup from your home computer.
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.
9. Alfred is your affordable, personal butler.
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.
10. Casper takes all the headache out of buying a new mattress.
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.