New York City, although not the center of the startup universe, is one of the premier markets in the US for innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2015, Startup Genome ranked the city that doesn’t sleep as the fifth biggest startup ecosystem in the world. The number of exciting investment opportunities, entrepreneurial activity, and even cost of living all contribute to the health of a startup ecosystem, and “Silicon Alley” ranks highly.
The city has undertaken many projects over the years to help develop an even healthier entrepreneurial environment. New companies continue to be built, and the next several months hold much promise. Here are some of the top startups to watch in the Big Apple right now.
Fundera is an online marketplace designed to help small businesses. It connects founders with top potential funding providers for their company. Pre-screened lenders assemble the highest quality funding sources and ensure that owners receive fair rates and terms on each loan granted. This idea of pre-approved loans will help save time and rejection for these owners to get their business underway as soon as possible.
Cartonomy is a retail platform that allows users to make their online shopping carts shareable with other people of their choosing. This idea of "social shopping" asks buyers to focus on coordinating and fulfilling lists for coworkers, family members, friends, or themselves. One of the selling points is that people can tackle shopping as a group and create a community feel to it, all through a single shopping cart. The platform is designed for shoppers to access thousands of products from major retailers with a focus on finding the lowest prices as quickly as possible, no matter what kind of product you’re looking for.
Founded by Tiffany Pham, MOGUL is a real-time information platform enabling women everywhere to connect through trending content, including articles, videos, discussions, and jobs personalized to them. Millions of women from nearly 200 countries have already become a part of the MOGUL community, empowering themselves by exchanging information and imparting knowledge with other women around the world.
MOGUL has partnered with dozens of organizations like MTV, Lean In, and TIME to support women’s initiatives. This company has already been recognized for its success by Business Insider, Cadillac, and Harvard Business School, to name a few.
“By providing women a platform to share their voices, we are encouraging authenticity and ultimately democratizing media for women worldwide,” says Pham.
This company’s goal is to bring beautiful art into peoples’ homes via picture frame-like computers. These frames (called EO1) are equipped with an Android operating system and can display high-resolution digital art from the Internet. The owner, through the company’s app on their cell phone, can select the art being displayed so the frame never needs to be touched. Started as a side project, the company now partners with museums, libraries, publishers, and galleries to bring beautiful art into regular homes. Some partners, like the New York Public Library, are even designing custom collections for the EO1.
This app acts like a digital concierge that focuses on creating better dining experiences for both restaurants and diners. It is softens the struggle of booking a restaurant months in advance. Users can enter the date and a time window they wish to make a reservation, and the app will display a list of restaurants that fit their criteria. Once an eatery is selected, Reserve will try to get a reservation. If the user’s original choice of restaurant isn’t displayed, the app lists alternative options, like bar seating or different times. The company currently has partnerships with Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard award-winning chefs.
This company is changing the way gym memberships work. Instead of paying a high monthly fee for a membership at a single gym, ClassPass is a subscription service for fitness classes. Users pay $99 a month to take classes at gyms and fitness centers around their city (New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angles). Classes can range from ballet, spin, yoga, boxing, and more. Users can’t go to the same gym more than three times in a month, but dozens of facilities are partnered with ClassPass, so there are many gyms to explore.
GlamSquad delivers trained cosmetologists and hair stylists directly to your doorstep. The company offers one-on-one consultations and a range of different looks to choose from. Appointments can be booked via their app or online. It requires contact information, choice of make-up and/or hairstyle, and a date, time, and location. The specialists will arrive at the desired location to make you over. The company is currently running out of New York and Los Angles, with plans to bring their celebrity-like treatments and services to other cities soon.
It helps that New York City is the city that doesn't sleep because startups require around-the-clock management. I'm reminded of a friend and startup founder who lives near NYU and likes to pop out of his home office at 1 a.m.. to buy a "street meat" meal or slice of pizza. Then he works until 4 a.m.. with his overseas team. Forget sleepy Silicon Valley or San Francisco (well, that may be changing, albeit slowly). There are major startup hubs around the country, and New York is a serious contender. The cost of living might be high, but with reasonable taxes and opportunities aplenty, it's no wonder so many people are calling NYC the startup Mecca.