There’s no shortage of start-ups in today’s frenetic world of entrepreneurship and technology. Yet, peppered through the dizzying mass of optimistic executives, dizzying sums of money and sparks of ingenuity doomed to fizzle out, there are a handful of businesses that truly promise to change their respective industries.
Here, we’ve found the most promising new companies to keep an eye out for this year, those destined to save lives, reduce industrial waste — or simply make your life a little easier.
Saving lives: Zipline
What they do: Zipline uses drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies to rural communities in Rwanda and around the world. In an interview, founder Keller Rinaudo explains: “We don’t think that the exciting potential for that technology is delivering burritos or pizza. We think the exciting potential for that technology is providing universal access to healthcare to every human on the planet.”
Why it’s exciting: Despite Amazon and Google having investigated the idea of worldwide drone deliveries for years, Zipline has created the world’s largest fully autonomous delivery system.
Valuation: $620 million
Sending money safely: Flywire
What they do: Flywire handles cross-border payments to make the process frictionless for businesses, organisations, and payers worldwide. Through global, regional, and local banking relationships, Flywire enables quick, secure and convenient payment collections from over 220 countries and territories, in more than 100 currencies.
Why it’s exciting: Whilst Flywire is not the only startup in this saturated market, it makes our list thanks to an amazing 2018, which saw Deutsche Bank partner with the company to streamline tuition fee payments for India’s overseas students.
Valuation: $700 million
Reducing waste: Globechain
What they do: Globechain is the go-between for businesses looking to get rid of costly waste items, from retail fixtures to construction materials. Instead of dumping or recycling these items, Globechain redirects them to people and communities who need them all over the world.
Already saving over 5.1 million kilos from landfill, Globechain has helped over 14,000 communities within the UK and across the globe. Globechain is fast becoming business’ best friend as they make waste not only greener but also more cost-effective.
Why it’s exciting: Waste is increasingly expensive and companies are looking for infallible CSR wins — Globechain gives them both. Beyond this, the circular economy is valued at around $5.2 trillion by 2030, which means Globechain is hitting just at the right time economically (especially for the UK).
Fighting Greenhouse Gas: Pivot Bio
What they do: Pivot Bio offers an alternative to nitrogen fertiliser, which is a known pollutant and greenhouse gas. Delivered as an in-furrow application, their first-generation product adheres to the plants’ roots and feeds the crop daily without leaching, volatilisation or denitrification.
Why it’s exciting: Pivot is backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, one of nine save-the-planet start-ups to attract the fund’s money. BEV was founded by a group of investors, including Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, who set aside $1 billion to fund startups.
Valuation: $200 million
Driving the AI Revolution: DeepMap
What they do: DeepMap offers high-definition maps for self-driving cars, helping them to easily navigate around the city without any obstruction. You can easily integrate the maps with any fleet of self-driving cars, and they automatically grow as more data becomes available. Onboard sensors “see” the road and can use the maps to predict what’s around the corner.
Why it’s exciting: Co-founded by James Wu and Mark Wheeler, who previously helped build maps at Google, Apple and Baidu — DeepMap has raised a significant round of growth funding to expand its technology stack and hopes to reach into markets beyond its current footprint of the U.S. and China.
Valuation: $475 million
Protecting App Users: Illumio
What they do: Illumio are in the business of ‘application security’, which involves watching applications to make sure they aren’t doing anything they are not supposed to do, which may indicate the malicious presence of a hacker or virus.
Why it’s exciting: Illumio’s fast growth propelled it to ‘unicorn’ status — startups valued at $1 billion or more — just six months after it came out of stealth mode.
Valuation: $1.18 billion
Property Pioneers: Nested
What they do: Nested takes on all aspects of your home’s sale – including taking photos, managing visits and negotiating with potential buyers. But what makes this property platform unique is that after 30 days, if your home hasn’t sold yet, it will offer you an advance of 90-95% of your home’s value – so that you can afford to buy a new one.
Why it’s exciting: According to the start-up, it’s selling twice as many homes in London as the average brick-and-mortar real estate branch.
Got a start-up idea of your own? Here’s why it’s never too late to start your own business…