It’s become a Silicon Valley cliche to talk changing the world by launching a startup. Most startups don’t do anything quite that dramatic.
But some of them do.
As we march into 2016, it’s a good time to look over the tech landscape to pinpoint the ones on track to change the business world, particularly the area of enterprise computing, the tech that runs our companies.
That’s exactly what Dell has done with its third-annual Founders 50 list. This is a list of global startups that are “disrupting their respective industries and poised to be household names in the coming years,” as Dell describes them.
We’re not sure they’re going to become household names like Google or Microsoft. But they sure are developing some interesting and game-changing technologies worth watching this year and beyond.
AlienVault is the creator of a popular security tool known as the Open Source Security Information Management (OSSIM). It helps companies make sense of the huge amounts of data generated by their many security products.
It also mans a forum called the 'Open Threat Exchange' where security pros can share information on hacks and threats as they find them.
As an open source tool, OSSIM can be downloaded and used for free, and has been by over 195,000 security pros, the company says. AlienVault provides commercial support for it, adding features and making it easier for enterprise IT teams to use it.
You normally think of investor relations as something only public companies do. But startup investors want to keep tabs and stay involved, too.
AngelSpan provides monthly updates to investors, quarterly reports and announcements, and helps the startup establish best practices for IR communications.
Ampool is a startup in stealth that's building new hardware for the 'big data world.' Its products aren't just about storing a lot of data. It is also searching for the bits of data that your company's data scientists use most, and putting them in faster-to-access computer memory.
This should make the initial analysis faster, while also allowing such information to automatically update itself.
Aplacare brings doctors and health care providers into the full digital area. It allows them to create their clinical notes and files with better speech recognition. Let's them automate tasks. Integrates clinical information, tracks patients, works with billing systems.
Plus, it works on mobile devices.
Arkin thinks that managing a complex IT infrastructure should be as easy as typing a search entry into Google or posting a pin on Pinterest.
It's built a management system that knows where all of a company's technology pieces and parts are, whether they are in the data center, in the cloud, etc. And an IT manager can find out information just by typing an ordinary question in like: 'tell me about all of my virtual machines that are not behind the firewall.'
Then, IT pros can 'pin' the results to the group to share information.
Bomberbot is a company in the Netherlands that teaches kids to code. More than that, it helps teachers teach kids to code, with no IT or programming knowledge required. It includes complete teachers guides.
Kids learn to code by solving puzzles. They analyse the puzzle problem, create a program by giving their Bomberbot visual instructions it needs, and find shortcuts with functions and loops.
Once a company installs a bunch of computer security apps and gear, and it gets an app that helps it track and make sense of them all, that's where BrightPoint comes in.
It takes all of that data, connects it with 'threat sharing' forums (where security pros post information on hacks and threats) and then tells a company the precise security threats it needs to attend to now.
This may mean patching software, eliminating a virus an employee's PC picked up, and so on.
Blue Sense makes software and equipment for Apple's iBeacon technology. An iBeacon uses bluetooth technology to detect when iPhones are nearby. It's most often associated with retailers who may want to send in-store coupons when you're standing in front of an item, or give you maps of the store as you wander around it.
Blue Sense's technology can also work with Android apps, it says, and offers all sorts of analytics and other features to its users.
Cayuga is a security startup still in stealth. Not many details are available about it, except that it's building a high-speed network for detecting all kinds of hacks and threats in real time.
The idea is to come up with some kind of 'early warning' system where companies can see the attack and thwart it before much damage is done.
ClearSky came out of stealth in August with a computer storage service that combines the best of all worlds, storing your own stuff in your own data center, using the cloud, and making it all easy to manage.
In tech speak it offers 'a fully managed multi-tier storage' that puts the most important stuff in a a device in a company's own data center, puts second-level important data in a hosting facility, and puts least important stuff on Amazon S3.
CloudShape offers governments a way to deliver the Windows operating system and apps securely to their users PCs over the network, instead of installing them on each PC.
It's known as 'desktop-as-a-service' and while its not a new concept, the emphasis on governments is unique. This means that CloudShape is set up to meet governments special security needs.
ConnectLoud offers software called 'uCloud' that helps enterprises manage all their uses of cloud computing.
It does things like automate management tasks, encrypt data, meters bandwidth for certain applications, analyse cloud usage and so on.
Cylance is taking your PC antivirus software to a whole new, smarter level.
It's building a system that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to protect against malware. Today's anti-virus software relies on methods where researchers identify the threat, then write signatures that can detect and disarm it.
But by making smarter antivirus software that can learn, it attempts to stop the bad guys instantly.
Datawise.io is building management tools for the next big craze in software development, something called 'containers' (a category invented by a hot startup called Docker).
There is already a popular open-source method for doing that created by Google and known as Kubernetes.
Datawise is automating a lot of Kubernetes features.
Datera is a stealth storage startup that is working on reinventing Linux-based computer storage systems to work better and faster for today's cloud computing environments.
Cofounder Maurilio Cometto ran Microsoft's cloud storage after Microsoft acquired his previous company, Storsimple in 2012.
Starting at $24 a month, Ditto is like a wardrobe of eyewear. It sends you a pair, you keep them for as long as you'd like, and then send them back for another pair, shipping included. If you love them, you can buy them at a discount.
It even includes a nifty app that let's you virtually try on all the glasses before you choose which one to ship.
DocuSign is a way to electronically sign documents and banish paper forms once and for all. It's being used to sign paperwork for real estate, buying cars, getting loans, legal documents, you name it.
And once paperwork no longer involves paper, people can work from anywhere, shop from anywhere and so on.
Eastwind, a startup that launched in the spring of 2015, wants to bring affordable computer security threat monitoring to all companies, big and small, to help companies detect hacks immediately.
It's using all the latest tech, like machine learning, big data, behaviour analysis, to monitor companies in real time.
Exara is making industrial machines smarter.
It's built software that collects more data from the sensors already embedded in such machines, particularly machines used in the field (like oil fields, or on ships, etc.).
It then lets companies analyse that data to discover new previously unknown insights about their field operations.
Exablox offers cloud computer storage that lets users grow their storage really fast, easily, and affordably.
It's claim to fame is that it doesn't make companies choose between usually conflicting storage technologies, it supports multiple file systems, multiple ways to find duplicate files and data and so on.
GoalControl offers real-time image analysis in sporting events to help referees determine exactly when a goal is scored. The company says it meets FIFA criteria.
The tech is based on high precision, high speed cameras mounted at all angles around the goal line. The refs wear watches that work with the cameras. When a goal is scored, their wrists buzz, and they can go back and review the play as necessary.
HTTPCS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Certified Secure. What that mouthful really means is that this startup scans websites to make sure they are secure.
Users sign up for an account, enter the website's URL, and HTTPCS examines the site, looking for signs that its already been hacked and is hosting malware, and for security issues that could allow it be hacked.
It then offers suggestions on how to fix those problems. Companies can scan as often as they'd like and when they are clean, they get to put HTTPCS's security seal of approval on their websites.
Invincea is also using machine learning to stop the hackers.
In this case it's protecting Windows 10 and Windows Server systems against advanced threats, everything from malware that sneaks in through an email attachment to virtuses and botnets that come in through malicous ads.
IP2 is the design company that takes iconic characters from cartoons and films and turns them into real world interactive experiences.
Its showcase project was DreamPlay, done in conjuction with DreamWorks Animation, the City of Manila, and Melco Crown Philippines Resorts.
It's an indoor, interactive theme park in Manila where families can engage in a bunch of interactive experiences based on the movies 'Kung Fu Panda,' 'Shrek,' 'Madagascar' and 'How to Train Your Dragon.'
As the popularity of iPhones, iPads and Macs has soared, employees want to bring them to work. JAMF offers software that helps IT departments manage fleets of Apple devices, by the hundreds or thousands.
It helps IT departments set them up with software, keep tabs on their inventory, update them, secure them and so on.
Joyent helped birth into the world a hugely popular developer tool known as Node.js. But when developers wanted indepedent control, and factions started to split, it created the Node.js foundation and took a step back.
Joyent still provides professional, commercial support for Node.js, and continues to sell other software for building cloud computing data centres.
Lastine protects companies against a particularly hard to stop hack attack called 'advanced persistent threat.' That's when a hacker has identified your particular company as a target and is doing everything it can, looking for every crack and hole, to break in.
Lastline can ferret out targeted malware designed to hide from detection. And it can help a company detect when these type of attack is going on.
Mangstor offers enterprise storage based on flash storage, the same kind of storage used in smartphones, tablets, and thumb drives.
But a lot of flash storage companies exist today. Mangstor's tech has also solved some technical issues to make its flash storage work exceptionally fast.
Mindseye wants help companies zero in on the important bits of data hiding in their stock pile of big data. It focuses on who generated or recieved the data, and who is affected by it.
By answering the question of 'who knew what, and when' it attempts to uncover important insights faster.
You might have heard the term 'gamification' where something that should be work is turned into a game. French company NaturalPad is doing this in the health care world, building games to help patients with rehab and keeping fit.
The games are co-designed with health care professionals and are designed for the MediMoov platform, which offers similar games for eldercare.
Network Kinetix is a system for mobile carriers and service providers that helps prevent fraudulent transactions from being completed as they are happening in real time.
It can, for instance, stop someone from making a payment to a scam site, or it can detect when a piece of equipment on the network is about to fail, the company says.
It does this by looking at the data as it is being sent to various systems logs as it is being sent. It can correlate all that data to detect problems.
Nelis is French company that offers a set of customer relationship management tools for teams. It's an email killer for sales people that lets them work together without sending group messages, share information, while also having separate tasks.
In addition to having a central database for customer contacts, it also does marketing and support functions.
Nexenta is proving that storage doesn't have to be locked away in the expensive proprietary technologies owned by storage vendors.
It focuses on what's known as 'software-defined storage' using open source technologies. (Open source allows anyone to see and modify the code and share changes with others.)
It's come up with its own name for this 'Open Software-Defined Storage or OpenSDS' but the name is less important than this: its storage works with just about every other major vendors data center tech including VMware, Citrix, Cloudstack, Microsoft, Openstack and Amazon Web Services.
Nutanix is one of the companies that has changed how enterprises build their data centres. It helped create, and leads, a young market called 'hyperconverged.'
It's a way to provide enterprise storage that gloms together a computer, the storage and the software that makes computers more efficient known as 'virtualization.'
A company stacks its 'hyperconverged' units together to grow their data centres, which reduces power, space and makes storage easier to manage.
Nutanix is one of the much-awaited IPOs of 2016 that recently filed its IPO paperwork.
So, you like to build stuff and you finally go out and get yourself a 3D printer. What now? That's the problem Pinshape wants to solve.
It has curated a huge selection of free and fee-based 3D printer files for building all kinds of stuff, like robots, games, or practical stuff like bolts and brackets.
Members can also share and sell their 3D designs as well.
Plexxi is one of the startups working in a hot area called 'software-defined networking.' That's when a corporate network can be controlled and changed via software automating many tasks. This is instead of the old-fashoned way, physically moving devices that are attached to physical wires.
There's a ton of networking companies all doing SDN in some shape or form. Plexxi is unique because its technology works with a super fast type of network, optical networking, and it takes into account the application that is being accessed over the network.
You've probably head the term 'big data.' Primary Data has coined a term called 'dark data.' Companies are keeping so much data these days that they can't keep track of the important bits. These could be hiding in any number of different storage technologies or any number of locations.
Primary Data offers software that helps a company track where its most important data is, no matter where in the infrastructure it lives.
Oxford is a computer security company that offers software to monitor and protect against security threats. And it also has a team of experts it can dispatch to analyse the data and fix problems.
It believes that to be really secure a company has to look at everything together, processes and people.
Qowisio is a French company that's building a network to connect Internet of Things devices.
Its one of several competitors in this new area, known as 'low bandwidth' networks. You can think of it like a mobile phone network only its dedicated to the sensors embedded in devices that join them to the internet. Some are calling this the mobile IoT, or M2M (machine-to-machine) networks.
Created in 2009, it now operates in 29 countries, it says.
Quiver is an app that gives security power to the individual, instead of just their IT department.
It lets you share your files, pictures, music, or whatever, while exerting control over such sharing.
You can edit a file with a group, and still prevent files and documents from being shared beyond those you authorise. You can set time limits on sharing, track who's getting your documents and so on.
Qumulo has created storage software, as well as a storage appliance, that helps companies manage large amounts of data, giving them analytics and insights into the use of their storage.
The software is specifically designed to work with today's new generation of flash enterprise storage. And it lets companies intelligently move their data around between the storage they own in their own data center and the cloud storage they rent from others.
SNapKin calls itself the first robotic interior designer. It's a tool that you place in the middle of the room. It swivels around and takes a 3D measurement of the space.
From that measurement, a basic floor plan can be compiled, quotes can be collected, and so on.
SpendCheQ is cloud software that tracks and manages all the stuff your company spends money on, from the supply chain to procuring day-to-day materials.
Its claim to fame is looking at all of it and helping companies better analyse their spending and, ultimately, control costs.
Spendgo helps business create digital customer loyalty programs and marketing campaigns that are particularly well suited for mobile apps and online stores.
Companies can send offers via email or text, and integrate offers with the POS system so a customer can redeem points on the spot.
Plus, Spendgo lets a company send personalised offers to get loyal customers spending more, and bring back those who have drifted away.
Systems Imagination has created big data analysis software especially for biomedicine researchers.
The company says it has blended state-of-the-art tech with sophisticted modelling and the human touch. It wants to help bio scientists translate complex data into insights on disease, drugs, the genome and other areas.
Unidesk takes the idea of 'desktop as a platform' to its next logical level. It allows a company to use multiple clouds and software tools for to stream the Windows operating system and corporate apps to PCs over the network. This is instead of installing the OS and apps on the PC.
With Unidesk, a company can use apps from Citrix, from Microsoft, from VMware, even the Azure cloud and this app manages all of them.
Zadara sells computer storage on a pay-as-you-use-it model, similar to Amazon Web Services popular S3 cloud storage. But Zadara has a few differences. It offers software that manages all kinds of storage, no matter where it lives.
So an enterprise can use it with the kind of enterprise storage they already own, and with other cloud storage providers, like S3, Microsoft Azure and others.
Companies can use it as a cloud service, or they can add it to their datacenters or some combination.
Honorable mention: OTG Platforms
Dell's list of 50 included OTG Platforms, but the company just announced that it acquired by Atheer.
On The Go was working on a gesture recognition interface for wearable devices.