Startup activity in the States increased to 0.48 in 2016, continuing the rise of a trend that began in 2015, according to the Kauffman Index, a series of reports that measures entrepreneurship in the U.S. Although the Great Recession saw stateside startup activity drop to historic lows, 2016 data shows that 80.4 out of every 1,000 businesses are new.
You don’t find startups only in Silicon Valley anymore, either. To see which startups are the hottest in each state, GOBankingRates consulted StartupRanking, CB Insights and other sources that provide up-to-the-minute data on which are performing the best, based on factors like social influence and healthy venture capital funding. Keep reading to find new companies in states where entrepreneurs are making it big.
Shipt is the most well-funded tech startup in the Yellowhammer State, according to CB Insights data reported in early 2017. With investments from Greycroft Partners, Herbert Venture and e.ventures totaling more than $63 million, according to Inc. Magazine, this on-demand grocery delivery app launched in Birmingham in 2014 and now extends its services to more than 70 cities.
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Alaska: Resource Data
Founded in Anchorage by Daryl Scherkenbach in 1986, Resource Data is a custom software, GIS, and IT consulting company. From just one employee and one office in 1985, the company has expanded to include six nationwide offices — from Juneau to Houston, Texas — and now employs 186 people. Moving to Juneau has its benefits — it is the wealthiest city in the state.
In 2016, Danny Loschiavo and his real estate broker mom launched BoldLeads, currently the top startup in Phoenix. That same year, the online service helped other agents generate more than 800,000 leads. It currently employs 26 and gives back some of its profits to Flight33, which provides after-school tutoring and basic-needs assistance to local kids.
BookAuthority is one of the best startups for entrepreneurs interested in creating their own startups. Visit the BookAuthority website or link your account to your Facebook profile and you’ll get personalized book recommendations based on the reading habits of business leaders like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The company debuted in April 2017 and is already attracting a respectable average of 49,644 monthly online visitors, according to StartupRanking.
San Francisco has a well-earned rep as one of the best cities for startups — with good reason. With $12.5 billion in funding, according to CB Insights, Uber is the best-funded startup in the nation, but the ride-hailing service lost about $3 billion in 2016, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Airbnb reached profitability in early 2017 and still retains the bulk of its $3.1 billion funding, according to Bloomberg, as it looks to make big investments — to the tune of $50 million — in fellow startups like Tilt. Airbnb found the perfect niche by helping users save on lodging.
Founded by Isaac Saldana, Tim Jenkins and Jose Lopez after graduating from the TechStars program in 2009, Denver’s SendGrid is the state’s poster child for tech startup success. Today, high-profile customers — and fellow startups like Airbnb, Spotify and Uber — rely on SendGrid’s email delivery services to relay more than 30 billion messages monthly. SendGrid should hit its $100 million revenue target in 2017 — up from the $60 million it raked in in 2016, according to Reuters.
Connecticut: Just Dump It LLC
Serving southern Connecticut, Tom Larsen’s eco-friendly company not only picks up unwanted items for a fee, it sorts them for donation, recycles them or composts them. Larsen gives back to the community by donating his time, crew and truck to causes like Autism Speaks and Habitat for Humanity.
ClickSSL is an online security platform for businesses that offer services like validation, certificates and domain protection. Since its start in 2009, ClickSSL’s business reach has extended far beyond state borders and gained national and global partners including Symantec, GeoTrust and Comodo.
District of Columbia: Vox Media
Vox Media, one of the best startups in the world, shares the “unicorn” title for holding a value of more than $1 billion, according to CB Insights. The owners of The Verge, Vox.com, Polygon, Eater, Curbed and more, D.C.-based Vox Media raised $324.7 million in funding from investors like Comcast, Accel Partners and Dan Rosensweig by 2015. In addition, Inc. named the Jim Bankoff-led group Company of the Year in 2016.
CEO Andre Norman and a group of engineers decided to start up Jellifin in late 2016 to democratize trading and allow customers to trade U.S. equity options commission-free — a sweet deal considering the average price is $7 plus 75 cents per contract for each trade. Those seven engineers still make up the bulk of the company and revenues aren’t yet on the record, but StartupRanking lists Jellifin as the second-best in the state based on social influence, and it’s quickly creeping up on fellow Miami startup, Wasp Mobile.
An audio-based social media app out of Atlanta, Chirbit was coded and created by Ivan Reyes in 2008 — and when something goes wrong with the app, he’s still the guy you can personally email. The app might not have brought tons of money to Georgia, but Chirbit — a 99-cent download on iTunes — is among the top 125 paid social networking apps for the iPhone, according to Sensor Tower data, which is an impressive feat for a one-person company.
It’s no wonder Hobnob co-founder Tina Fitch was named Hawaii Business magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 — since launching in 2015, users have sent more than 3 million invitations via her invitation app. Already buoyed by huge investors like Bessemer Venture Partners and Greycroft — making it the state’s most-funded tech startup — Hobnob is one of the most buzzworthy apps of SXSW in 2017, according to CNET.
Founded in 2006, Cradlepoint has produced high-performance router platforms and created cloud-based wired and wireless LAN solutions aimed at enterprises. Headed up by CEO George Mulhern, Cradlepoint has won awards like the 2017 Network Infrastructure Product of the Year from Network Computing and the 2016 SDN Product of the Year from TMC. In addition, the powerhouse locked down $89 million in funding for growth-stage investments in 2017.
Illinois: Sprout Social
In 2015, Sprout Social landed at number 78 on the Inc. 5000 list, sporting an annual growth rate of 3,918.07 percent and a revenue of $15.2 million. Since 2010, Sprout has helped organizations like Bentley, Stanford University, Coldwell Banker and Ticketmaster grow and maintain their online social media presences. Outside of bringing cash into Chicago, Glassdoor named Sprout Social founder and CEO Justyn Howard its No. 1 CEO for U.S. companies with 1,000 employees or less in 2017 — he clocked in with a 99 percent approval rating from his employees.
From Tonie Snell and Angella Guajardo — known for 360HR and Ayous Companies — OutNSocial is so new it’s not even out yet, but it’s already generating buzz as one of progressive America’s best new startups. OutNSocial aims to offer an app that helps the LGBTQ community and its allies network in real-world, safe spaces. The company just tweeted about having its first conversations with investors in late September 2017, but given the founders’ previous ventures, it’s definitely one to watch.
Iowa: Pablow Inc.
If you’ve ever had an issue with a vacation rental and lost money, there’s good news. Pablow offers the vacation rental insurance that most major travel companies won’t issue. Co-founded by Steve Sherlock in 2015, this insur-tech startup is now licensed in all 50 states and offers travel cancellation insurance on more than 12,000 properties.
Kansas: Ninja Reports
Only a few months old, Ninja Reports attracts nearly 9,500 visitors to its website each day. The online platform generates automated email analytics for online applications, including Facebook, Google Analytics, Amazon, Twitter, Quickbooks and Google AdWords. Time will tell if these ninjas are able to sneak their way into profitability — they’ve just begun offering automated email reporting packages that range from $49 to $499 per month.
Wyzerr has a great elevator pitch — create info-gathering surveys that feel like games. That pitch has appealed to companies in 42 countries so far, including Google, Facebook, Capital One, Volkswagen, McDonald’s and Disney. The 2014 startup boasts a survey completion rate of more than 70 percent. Wyzerr has raised $2.1 million through four rounds of funding as of May 2017, according to the online publishing platform Medium.
Louisiana: Capture Connect Media
When Brandin Michael Campbell founded the full-service, integrated marketing firm Capture Connect Media in 2010, he had a more than a little experience under his belt. During his tenure as sales manager at NOLA Media Group, he finished the 2014 calendar year at 146 percent of his budgetary goal and doubled the staff size; before that, he grew $1.5 million worth of corporate and local accounts at iHeartMedia. If Capture Connect continues to capture that lightning, the Louisiana media startup stands to make its investors plenty happy.
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As of 2017, R.e.d.d. is Maine’s most well-funded food and beverage startup, according to CB Insights. It’s all thanks to the “indulgently healthy” brownie bars created by Portland, Ore.-based Alden Blease and Reed Allen. R.e.d.d. hit the ground running in 2010 and by 2017, R.e.d.d. had closed its most recent round of investments at $1.5 million, exceeding its goal by 30 percent, according to Mainebiz, a media organization that provides business news, analysis and information.
Maryland: Tenable Inc.
Founded in 2002, this award-winning, network security company services more than 23,000 worldwide customers and 1.6 million global users. Based in Columbia, Md., and founded by Jack Huffard and Renaud Deraison, the company has raised $371.6 million in funding as of June, 2016, according to CB Insights, from sources like Accel Partners, Insight Venture and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
Massachusetts: Help Scout
Another success story from the Techstars program, co-founder Nick Francis’s Help Scout had raised $6 million as part of its early funding rounds in 2015, the entrepreneur wrote in a blog post for Medium. Francis told the Boston Business Journal that the company’s customer service software was profitable, pulling down annual revenues “in the millions.” Those millions come from more than 8,000 businesses across 140 countries that use the service, including Trello, Blue Bottle, Threadless and Grubhub.
Partners Fred Bellio, Carl Wendtland and James Danforth founded Detroit-based cybersecurity upstart Driven-4 in 2002. Since then, the company has attracted alliances with PTC and Siemens — and even become certified to handle government work — making it the No. 1 ranked startup in Detroit and the state of Michigan, according to 2017 StartupRanking data.
Founded in 2017 by engineers and publishers with histories at Bluestem and Madison365, Threelly says it “brings to light useful ideas buried beneath the heap of billions of hours of content” on YouTube. A free, community-driven content curation service, Threelly reduces lengthy video clips down to hand-picked “slices.” The company is already seeing 11,188 site visitors per month, according to StartupRanking, but it’s still in its infancy and is currently seeking executive board members.
Mississippi: Next Gear Solutions
A provider of workflow and job-management software since 2008, Next Gear Solutions takes Mississippi’s top spot on CB Insights’ 2017 list of the best-funded tech startups per state. Under president and CEO Garret Gray, Serent Capital invested a 30 percent stake in Next Gear in 2016 — the move paid off because Next Great acquired restoration software company ClientRunner later that year and IT consulting service MICA in 2017.
At any given time, PromoCoup’s online coupon offerings exceed 13,000 — with deals at Amazon, Overstock, McGraw Hill and more. Founded in June 2017, the Missouri company’s free-to-use business model — users just click and redeem coupons — seems to be paying off. Monthly website visitors total 10,758, according to StartupRanking.
Montana’s most well-funded food startup in 2017, according to CB Insights, Cooksimple was founded by Keith Lauver with chef and nutrition consultant Tony Sobiech. Cooksimple’s profits aren’t always rosy, but Lauver has a knack for working against the odds: From peddling his ready-made health food to brokering deals to sell meals in 900 Safeway stores and 635 Targets in the midst of his own bankruptcy, Lauver knows how to keep on ticking. Maybe that’s why investors gave him nearly $1 million in capital back in 2013.
Nebraska: Cottonwood Pet Resort
Cottonwood Pet Resort is the top startup in Nebraska based on social influence, according to StartupRanking. A small business owned by the Dvorak family since 1992, Cottonwood positions itself as a luxury hotel for pets, with suites, sheepskin rugs, playrooms and even TVs tuned to “Animal Planet.” In 2017, Cottonwood appeared on Omaha Magazine’s Best of Omaha list for pet-boarding businesses.
Around since 2016 and listed as StartupRanking’s most influential startup in both Las Vegas and the state of Nevada as of September 2017, Orangear is a SaaS — software-as-a-service — platform that strives to unite networks, advertisers and media buyers. New as it might be, this tech startup — led by CEO Max Korolevich — has already attracted customers like OfferSeven, JungleTap, AppAve and Tapgerine.
New Hampshire: Plexxi
In 2015, Plexxi CEO Richard Napolitano told CRN, “We will be more than 10 times in our revenue from last year, so we’re on a tear in terms of revenue growth, which means we’re learning a lot.” That’s sure to please investors like Google Ventures and Matrix Partners, that, among others, have given Plexxi $88.4 million in funding since it started in 2010, according to CB Insights.
New Jersey: CorpWriting
CorpWriting’s website sees about 10,823 visitors per month, according to StartupRanking. Those visitors swing by the site to get quotes on CorpWriting’s services, which include custom-written copywriting services for web content, press releases, SEO writing, resumes and more. As of 2017, this privately held Princeton company employs between 51 and 200 New Jersey residents.
New Mexico: TriLumina Corporation
The semiconductor developers and manufacturers at TriLumina, incorporated in 2010, have some serious leadership behind them — CEO Brian Wong has raised more than $180 million in equity funding at previous tech groups like Enevate and D2Audio. His streak continues as TriLumina Corporation ended its spring 2017 funding round with an additional $9 million in equity and debt financing. That happened right after the company partnered with high-power, laser-chip company Analog Devices to continue making its mark on the autonomous vehicle industry. Big companies are getting into the driverless car industry, with multinationals like Samsung joining the ranks.
New York: Giphy
If you’ve sent a GIF to someone from your smartphone, chances are you’ve used Giphy’s animated GIF search engine. Founded in 2013, Giphy is the top-ranked startup in New York and the seventh-ranked in all of the U.S., according to StartupRanking.
Series D funding nabbed Giphy $75 million on top of the roughly $75 million it had already raised, according to Fortune. Although Giphy makes almost no revenue, it’s valued at around $600 million.
North Carolina: Textworkers
Since 2008, Textworkers has sold its content writing and SEO services to big clients like Inc., Dish Network and Avon, among others. Textworkers brings an estimated $1 million in annual revenue, according to Owler, a community-based, business insights platform. Based in the town of Eden, N.C., the company currently employs more than 30 people.
North Dakota: CoSchedule
CoSchedule calls itself “the liger of startups,” and it’s a scrappy web company that launched in 2013 and secured $500,000 in its first round of seed funding in 2014. By 2015, its drag-and-drop editorial calendar service had reached 5,000 customers and brought in $2 million worth of recurring revenue. Today, CoSchedule has active users in more than 100 countries, more than 8,000 customers, 60 employees and more than 195,000 blog subscribers — plus a second location in Fargo, N.C. — all under the leadership of co-founders Garrett Moon and Justin Walsh.
In the company’s own words, “Autoria is a decentralized token built on the Ethereum blockchain platform utilizing a Proof of ETH mining node registration to deploy AUT tokens according to a mathematically rigorous supply-curve modeled algorithm.” If that doesn’t clear it up for you, Autoria is a cryptocurrency investing company founded in May 2017. The company’s aspirations are lofty — it aims to create a payment app that makes cryptocurrency mainstream to tap into the $7 billion, point-of-sale market.
Stir was founded in 2017 by Daniel France, who also founded the startup Ittybam and co-founded Film Freeway, Stir hopes to tap into the online dating industry, which generates $3 billion worth of revenue every year, according to IBISWorld. Available for free download on iOS and Android platforms, Stir matches nearby singles in real-time to encourage on-the-spot interaction and communication.
The brainchild of engineers and social entrepreneurs like CEO John Connor, HelpWith was founded in 2016 and took home the Technology Association of Oregon’s 2017 award for the Pre-Revenue Technology Company of the Year. Although the online platform — which seeks to connect people with local experts to learn everything from coding to music — is pre-revenue right now, it takes a 10 percent commission on every session booked and expects to reach $1 million in revenue within 1.5 years, with a 50 percent growth rate month over month.
In late September 2017, entrepreneur Alex Burdine exceeded his initial $20,000 funding goal via a successful Kickstarter campaign for his new tech startup, FreshFridge. Burdine calls his product “the first affordable smart fridge system,” an app that helps non-smart fridges track temperature, inventory and more in an effort to reduce food waste. Although FreshFridge is just getting started, it has already been featured in the Digital Journal, Hackster.io and Reimagine Food.
Rhode Island: Teespring
Walker William and Evan Stites-Clayton started Teespring in 2012, and it was No. 21 on CNBC’s 2017 Disruptor 50 list. With $58.1 million in funding and about 300 employees, Teespring offers a platform for indie apparel designers, and it has netted more than $1 million in annual sales for some years. Teespring is good at what it does, which is let users design and order their own custom shirts and purchase others’ designs, complete with curated stores for star shirt designers.
South Carolina: Pandoodle
Pandoodle’s $2.53 million in upstart funding from the South Carolina Research Authority and Upstate Carolina Angel Network got the artificial intelligence-based startup going. Founded in 2008, CEO and co-founder Dirk Brown’s video and imaging solution-based company has served major clients like Disney, Hasbro, Google and South Carolina’s Studio Charleston.
South Dakota: TileBuys
This family-owned upstart in Sioux Falls started selling natural marble, mosaics and 3-D tiling in 2016, focusing on discount pricing and online shopping options. Its website gets 11,064 monthly visitors, according to StartupRanking, and it brings in $454,200 in revenue, according to Owler.
Tennessee: Text Request
With its automated customer service texts, Text Request hopes to disrupt the customer service industry — and so far, so good. Since its 2014 launch, CEO Brian Elrod has seen monthly recurring revenue increase by at least 15 percent monthly. And the company saw a 20 percent revenue boost after exhibiting at a Merry Maids national seminar in 2015.
Texas: The BHW Group
Mobile app and web development company The BHW Group, based in Austin, Texas, ranked as a finalist for Interactive Innovation at SXSW in 2015 and was deemed one of the best places to work by the Austin Business Journal in 2016. CEO Brett Burnett’s team has handled 340 projects for 60 customers across 21 industries to date.
Madai’s mission statement is to “motivate action by monetizing the value of consumer attention.” Basically, Madai motivates consumer action by applying its own, market-research-based algorithms to companies’ needs and goals.
You might have heard of some of those companies — they include Microsoft, Sony and Vodafone. Currently, Madai employs more than 25 people and has offices in London, Milan and Johannesburg.
As of September 2017, Faraday is almost at the top of AngelList’s list of Vermont startups. CEO Andy Rossmeissl’s AI software helps companies analyze their “customer lifecycle,” using machine learning and big data to thoroughly track the business-to-consumer journey. A year after Faraday’s launch in 2013, it raised $880,000 in its Series A financing round.
DonorSee’s unique approach to charitable giving takes a 3.75 percent fee from the user’s contribution in exchange for an in-app service that actually shows donors photos and videos of their contributions in action. Founded by Gret Glyer with $150,000 worth of seed money in 2016, DonorSee hopes to ease common nonprofit industry issues like poor fund allocation and high volunteer turnover, according to a 2017 Huffington Post interview.
Co-founded by John Lauer, John Larson and Anthony Riemma in 2007, Zipwhip had secured $9 million in funding from investors like Microsoft and Voyager Capital by 2016. That same year, the company reported $10 million in annual recurring revenue and provided jobs for 100 employees. Zipwhip provides texting services that do everything from engage customers with special offers to confirm office appointments.
More on Startups: 15 Startups to Watch
West Virginia: ConsumerBreak
Founded in 2017, ConsumerBreak hopes to profit by giving away money through a smartphone app that allows users to play free games for a chance to win cash prizes — and the games are all branded with paid advertisements. Although ConsumerBreak’s social influence has been strong so far, it remains to be seen whether or not Michael and Natanel Eisenberg’s startup will slice off a significant piece of the $65 billion mobile advertising market pie.
Launched in July 2017, CEO Jonathan Martin’s FitTech Hosting company out of Milwaukee has its sites set on the web hosting prize. With accessible monthly prices ranging from $5 to $15 for hosting, generous storage, support and design, FitTech’s financial fate is yet to be decided, but the company has already made a mark in terms of social influence, rocking 9,400 average monthly website visits, according to StartupRanking.
Although it’s still seeking developers and offering to pay them in equity shares, the upcoming Cinemaloop app is making its mark in the Wyoming investment scene, gaining more investment-minded followers on AngelList than any other startup in the state. Founder Vera Odessa Newman’s app is sort of like Tinder meets Flickchart — it pairs you with compatible movie buddies, however, rather than romantic interests.
Methodology: Information sourced from StartupRanking was compiled in late September 2017, based on the site’s SR Score ranking for startups, which reflects the web presence, social media engagement, and estimated online audience of startup companies.