Views From Above

Startups are crucial to the growth of the global economy. Without their innovation in products and business practices, multinational corporations would never evolve to keep up with new advances. Some startups show instant promise while others may take time to reveal their true potential. The financial industry is constantly on the alert for promising startups. Whether they’re new firms just getting their first seed money or seasoned stalwarts close to going public, these ten startups are the ones to watch in 2018.

1. SenseTime

The Hong Kong-based AI company has made waves with its recent announcement that it plans to accrue $500 million in funding within the next few months. Earlier funding rounds have made it one of the hottest startups in Asia, and it is currently valued at $1.5 billion. With the backing of the Chinese government and a large team of scientists working on development, SenseTime seems destined for success. The company’s machine learning technology has applications in cars, mobile phones and security systems.

2. Opendoor

The four co-founders of Opendoor are experts in the tech game by now. Each previously worked at successful companies like PayPal and Trulia. They brought this expertise to Opendoor, a San Francisco-based startup that helps homeowners quickly buy and sell their homes. The firm’s future is looking bright, considering its hefty backing and steady expansion. Opendoor was in only three cities in 2016. By the end of 2017, it will have spread to 10 different regions.

3. GetYourGuide

The travel booking site has taken Europe by storm and is poised to launch in North American and Asian markets early next year. What began as a side project for cash-strapped students to make some extra pocket money has burgeoned into one of the most touted European startups. The Berlin-based company has attracted over $170 million in funding from venture capital firms. GetYourGuide is more immune to the market fluctuations that affect sites like Travelocity and Expedia as it makes its revenue off of commissions.

4. Beheld

When Kat Kinkead and Peter Weijmarshausen were working at 3D startup Shapeways they became fascinated with the technology used to create tiny figurines by scanning live humans and printing out a miniaturized version on a 3D printer. They jumped at the chance to launch their own startup, Beheld, based on this idea. The company’s technology has the potential to replace conventional photo booths at parties and in shopping malls. The fledgling startup, based in Brooklyn, has had no trouble in earning initial angel funding.

5. N26

The virtual banking startup has continuously turned heads since it was founded in 2013. Taking advantage of the post-2010 surge in mobile banking, N26 allows its customers to manage all of their banking needs through the convenience of an app. They have quickly spread to other countries like Italy, Greece and Spain since launching as a Germany-only service. The startup added more than 200,000 users this year in Europe alone. They plan to expand their services next year into the United Kingdom and the United States. So far, N26 has amassed over $50 million in venture capital financing.

6. PassionFlix

Netflix is getting a run for its money with the brand-new video streaming startup, PassionFlix. Focusing exclusively on romantic films, the startup adapts popular romance novels into original content for its platform. Already released original films include Hollywood Dirt and Afterburn/Aftershock, both based on successful romance novels. Founded by Tosca Musk, sister of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the company has attracted $7.5 million in seed money from investors like Jason Calacanis and Norman Lear. Writer Joany Kane and producer Jina Panebianco are Musk’s partners in the streaming venture.

7. Glint

Founded in 2013, Glint is based in Redwood City, California. Glint’s software is designed to help companies with employee retention. Through Glint, employers regularly survey targeted groups of employees, helping them maintain job satisfaction within the company. With modern workers switching jobs more often, venture capitalists have bet on Glint’s ability to help businesses keep their workforce. So far, Glint has collected $7.9 million in funding. Companies like eBay and AOL already use Glint’s software, and the startup plans to expand to Europe by using its latest $20 million round of funding.

8. TransferWise

The London-based startup TransferWise has become a major player in the world of currency exchange since it was launched in 2011 by a pair of Estonian entrepreneurs. The company effectively dissolved national borders for clients with their borderless accounts that allow users to freely transfer funds from country to country. In 2015, they reached unicorn status when they were valued at $1 billion. Infused with a fresh influx of cash from Old Mutual Global Investors, TransferWise is now ready to take over markets in Asia and Latin America.

9. Shift Technology

Located in Paris, this burgeoning AI startup is attempting to stop insurance fraud in its tracks. Shift Technology allows clients to upload insurance claims to the company’s system. Their signature AI program Force analyzes the data for fraudulent claims and sends instant alerts regarding suspicious claims. The company grew an impressive 800% between 2016 and 2017. In October 2017, Shift received a $200 million shot in the arm from venture capitalists. The startup is already entrenched in Europe and dabbles in Asian and Latin American markets. It will use its new funding to open additional branches in New York and Tokyo.

10. Roadrunner Recycling

Efficiency is the watchword at waste management startup Roadrunner Recycling. Using a combination of off-duty truck drivers and environmentally friendly logistics, the company has attracted substantial attention since being launched in 2014. The firm made the news in May 2017 when they switched their headquarters from New York City to Pittsburgh, but the move ultimately paid off. In September 2017, Roadrunner received a $10 million investment to grow their business beyond Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh. Business Insider put Roadrunner on its 2017 list of hottest startups based on investor valuation. The company is slated to branch out to other American cities in 2018.

As startups continue to diversify and improve entrepreneurial markets, emerging firms are leading the way. Investors are ready and willing to take a chance on the next big thing. From real estate startups to fintech companies, these startups are the businesses to watch in 2018.

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