The 25 Hot NYC Startups You Need To Watch

lily liu publicstuffLily Lui founded PublicStuff, a help line in the cloud.

New York City is a hot startup hub.After hitting the incubators, speaking with VCs and entrepreneurs, we selected 25 (very) early stage startups that are generating buzz in the tech community.

Some of them are positioned to blow up and become the next big tech titans.

Rebel Mouse hasn't launched yet but it's the highly anticipated brainchild of former Huffington Post CTO Paul Berry

Startup: RebelMouse

Date Founded: January 2012

Founder: Paul Berry

Concept: Rebel Mouse is still in stealth mode (so it hasn't technically launched). Berry says it will be a 'social platform' that combines social media, journalism and technology.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: If anyone else were starting a social platform, we wouldn't find it as interesting.

But Paul Berry and the team surrounding RebelMouse are masterminds. Berry was formerly CTO of The Huffington Post, and he recruited BuzzFeed's Jonah Peretti and Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer to help with RebelMouse. Former Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau and Greg Coleman are also involved.

Yoke is a dating app that turns Facebook friends into matchmakers.

Startup: Yoke

Date Founded: 2011 (via Kingfish Labs)

Founders: Rob Fishman and Jeff Revesz

Concept: A social dating app built on top of Facebook

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Lerer Ventures and Softbank Capital have invested

Why You Should Care: When we first heard about Yoke, we weren't very excited. Surely the world doesn't need another dating app. But when multiple people suggested it for this list, we perked up.

One investor says three things about Yoke set it apart from the competition.

First, it's an extremely social experience. It encourages users to ask friends to hook them up with their friends, rather than awkwardly asking the third degree person directly. Second, people in relationships can use Yoke by playing matchmaker. Third, it's a very data-driven service. It connects to Netflix, Amazon and other APIs to make smart suggestions about what two people have in common. For example, it can show that you both rented the same movie last month, or that you like the same music.

The founders have good reputations in tech. Fishman was formerly social media editor of The Huffington Post which has earned him some street cred. Revesz sold his first company, Adaptive Semantics, to The Huffington Post.

PublicStuff is a community helpline in the cloud.

Startup: PublicStuff

Date Founded: 2011 (via Kingfish Labs)

Founder: Lily Liu

Concept: A platform for submitting requests to your city in the cloud; it utilizes social media so help tickets can be filed and tracked in real-time.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Investors include Lerer Ventures, First Round Capital and High Peaks Venture Partners

Why You Should Care: Cities spend a lot of time and resources developing helplines and community management systems. If you live in New York, you've undoubtedly seen its multi-million-dollar 311 system for connecting the public with government services. PublicStuff is a much cheaper solution that's easier to manage and use.

Percolate helps brands become publishers

Startup: Percolate

Date Founded: January 2011

Founder: Noah Brier, James Gross

Concept: Helps brands curate content that is relevant to their consumers from social media outlets

Location: New York, NY (Bond St)

Funding: $1.5 million from Lerer Ventures, First Round Capital, SV Angel, Transmedia Capital, Rick Webb, Advacit Capital, Dave Morin, Jerry Neumann, Josh Spear

Why You Should Care: Percolate was another popular investor suggestion and the startup was profitable as of its December 2011 financing.

As CPMs plummet, it's getting harder for online media companies to support themselves. Big brands can afford the high cost of media production; having an authoritative voice is good for their brands too.

American Express has positioned itself as a small business expert thanks in large part to its Open Forum media platform. Percolate is helping other brands achieve similar success.

'Content as marketing is the future -- it drives distribution,' says an investor. 'Brands want curation and help shaping a voice. Percolate does this.'

Branch is a group blog and discussion board for industry leaders that can be followed by the community

Startup: Branch

Date Founded: Summer 2011

Founders: Josh Miller, Hursh Agrawal and Cemre Gungor

Concept: A group blog and discussion board led by industry leaders and followed by the community

Location: Moving to NYC this spring

Funding: $2 million from Obvious Corporation, Betaworks, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Rick Webb, Lucas Nelson, Ryan Freitas, and David Tisch.

Why You Should Care: Most articles are one-sided. You hear the author's opinion, but commenters are buried beneath posts and aren't given a pulpit. Branch allows multiple influencers to contribute to the same conversation and it creates expert discussions. It's like listening to a panel at a conference 24/7.

Tech influencers such as Twitter's Evan Williams, CrunchFund's MG Siegler and Betaworks' John Borthwick have been featured on Branch.

If the service lands in the right hands, it could be powerful. Imagine the entire New York Giants team having an online discussion together following the Super Bowl. Or the cast of your favourite show discussing what will happen in the next episode.

Branch has some big name supporters behind it to help it achieve success. BuzzFeed and Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti is an advisor; Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter are behind it too.

If Federated Media and Pinterest were to have a beautiful baby, it would be Loverly.

Startup: Loverly

Date Founded: July 2011

Founder: Kellee Khalil

Concept: A wedding channel that uses the power of a large network to drive traffic and advertising dollars to small publishers.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $500,00 from Joanne Wilson, Mike Edwards, Jordy Levy, Mike Yavonditte, Anu Duggal, and Charles Smith.

Why You Should Care: In just a few short months, Khalil has created a network of 26 blogs spanning 10 million monthly pageviews and 1.8 million monthly uniques.

In addition, she's helping the publishers tag all of their wedding photos so brides can purchase everything they find on their sites. Khalil's team adds notes about the items featured, the colour, the designer, the photographer and more. It's like a more information-intensive Pinterest for brides-to-be.

Khalil has gotten a lot of attention from big industry names too. Martha Stewart has met with her and another big wedding publisher tried to scare her out of launching. Her current investors are impressed with Khalil's progress too. We wouldn't be surprised to see them throw in more cash.

Contently wants to help publishers find freelance writers

Startup: Contently

Date Founded: December 2010

Founders: Shane Snow, Joe Coleman, David Goldberg

Concept: A platform that helps freelance writers find gigs and brands find professional writers.

Location: New York, NY (Broadway)

Funding: $2 million from Lightbank, ff Venture Capital, Consigliere Brand Capital, Scott Belsky, and Dharmesh Shah

Why You Should Care: Like Percolate, Contently is banking on brands becoming the future of media.

Contently has already worked with 40+ active publishers and brands including LinkedIn, Best Buy and American Express. It has a database of 3,000 approved writers and thousands more in waiting, according to Snow.

Codecademy is teaching the world Javascript via online games and lessons.

Startup: Codecademy

Date Founded: Summer 2010

Founders: Zach Sims, Ryan Bubinski

Concept: An online platform that teaches basic coding to tech novices

Location: New York, NY (Broadway at AOL Ventures office)

Funding: $2.5 million from Union Square Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angel and CrunchFund.

Why You Should Care: Investors fought to fund Codecademy last fall. It's a common complaint that there isn't enough tech talent to go around, so the startup is hitting a real pain point.

It quickly reached 1,000,000 users thanks in part to a viral New Years-related campaign: Code Year. Codecademy encouraged people to pledge to learn Javascript, and big voices like NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg got on board.

Docracy crowdsources trusted legal documents for small businesses.

Startup: Docracy

Date Founded: May 2011

Founders: Matt Hall And John Watkinson

Concept: Docracy makes it easy for small businesses to find legal documents, like NDAs, that they can trust. As the documents get chosen more and more by users, their ratings get higher.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Funding: $650,000 from First Round Capital, Vaizra Seed Fund, Rick Webb and Quotidian Ventures

Why You Should Care: Docracy first got noticed as TechCrunch's spring Hackathon winner.

A VC tells us Docracy was recently selected to host standard documents for AIGA and it will be doing the same for other small business organisations in the next few months.

Wander finds places that capture your imagination.

Startup: Wander

Date Founded: Fall 2011

Founders: Jeremy Fisher and Keenan Cummings

Concept: Wander is still in stealth mode, but the founders tell us it will be all about the places that capture your imagination

Location: New York, NY (TechStars)

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Wander was one of 14 companies chosen to participate in the upcoming TechStars NYC program out of 1,500 applicants.

Fisher founded another location-based startup, Dinevore, and we assume Wander is its next iteration. Multiple investors, including TechStars NYC managing director Dave Tisch, are excited about Wander.

'They will be nicely funded,' we were told.

A big-name startup founder mentioned Wander to us too, so it's a company we're keeping our eyes on.

Stamped is a more social version of Yelp for mobile devices

Startup: Stamped

Date Founded: April 2011

Founders: Bart Stein, Robby Stein, Kevin Palms

Concept: A mobile review app for places and things that are written and curated by friends.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1.5 million from Bain Capital and Google Ventures

Why You Should Care: Stamped was founded by ex-Googlers, and most of the team is comprised of former Google employees.

Big tech names are using the app including Instagram's Kevin Systrom (who worked alongside Robby at Google) and Path's Dave Morin.

The Fancy is a Pinterest-like company backed by Jack Dorsey

Startup: The Fancy (from ThingD)

Date Founded: Early 2011

Founders: Joe Einhorn

Concept: Photo sharing and discovery site with high male readership.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $18 million investment from Ashton Kutcher, Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Bob Pittman and others.

Why You Should Care: The Fancy has far fewer members than Pinterest, but its 250,000 users are highly engaged. Its users interact with 1 million images per week.

The Fancy has an amazing team of influencers behind it too. The board consists of Square's Jack Dorsey, Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, PPR Chairman Francois-Henry Pinault and LeRoy Kim of Allen & Company. Kanye West tweets about it.

It's rumoured valuation is $100 million.

Fancy Hands is a personal assistant network.

Startup: Fancy Hands

Date Founded: April 2010

Founders: Ted Roden

Concept: A personal assistant network. Pay a flat fee and Fancy Hands will find someone to help you.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Bootstrapped

Why You Should Care: Fancy Hands is an company investors would love to get their hands in but it's entirely bootstrapped by founder Ted Roden.

'Their activity is almost as big as the competition but with 50 per cent of the industry awareness,' we were told by a VC, who also thinks the business is more scalable than most.

Mixel is social art on the iPad

Startup: Mixel

Date Founded: April 2010

Founders: Khoi Vinh, Scott Ostler

Concept: An easy, collaborative way to make art and collages on the iPad. Users can pull images from the web and remix them to form something original, then share the picture with friends and see how they remix the image.

Location: New York, NY (Dogpatch Labs)

Funding: Betaworks, Polaris Venture Partners and others. The beneficiaries of a 2010 TechFellow award from Founders Fund and New Enterprise Associates.

Why You Should Care: Picture sharing is a big trend right now, but not many startups have dabbled in the collaborative art creation space.

An investor tells us, 'Mixel is one of the coolest iPad apps being built by one of the best web designers in the country.'

It also has an awesome startup name.

MoviePass is an all-you-can-eat movie ticket solution. Pay $30 and see as many movies as you want per month in theatres.

Startup: MoviePass

Date Founded: February 2011

Founders: Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watts

Concept: MoviePass lets users attend all of the movies they want in theatres for a fixed price.

Location: New York, NY (AOL Ventures office)

Funding: $1.5 million from AOL Ventures, True Ventures, Lambert Media, Moxie Pictures, Brian Lee, Diego Berdakin, MJ Eng, Ryan Steelberg and Adam Lilling.

Why you should care: MoviePass is a good solution for theatres that have trouble filling seats and for movie buffs who are aggravated by the rising cost of tickets.

If MoviePass takes off, it could mean trouble for Fandango.

Joor makes it easy for boutiques to buy wholesale from designers online

Startup: Joor

Date founded: March 2010

Founder: Mona Bijoor

Concept: An easy way for boutiques to buy wholesale from multiple designers at once online, and for designers to see the boutiques displaying their clothing.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $2.25 million from Battery Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Great Oaks VC, Landis Capital, Forerunner Ventures, William M. Smith and Richard Mishaan.

Why you should care: Before Joor, if a boutique wanted to carry designer brands, it was a painful and tedious process. It had to call each company and play phone tag before eventually placing an order.

Joor makes wholesale buying much easier. It works with hundreds of brands and thousands of boutiques and allows boutiques to place bulk orders with multiple brands at once on its platform. The boutiques also have profile pages, so designers can see where their products will be sold.

Right now Joor only works with fashion labels, but it has plans to move into other categories, like home decor. It's a great way for small mum and pop shops to carry big name brands.

Turf turns Foursquare into a Mario-like game

Startup: Turf

Date Founded: March 2011

Founder: Michael Tseng

Concept: A video-game version of Foursquare. It has elements of Mario Brothers (where users collect coins), Sim City (where you can build businesses), and Monopoly (where you can rule city real estate).

Location: New York, NY (WeWork Labs)

Funding: $17,375 from Kickstarter.

Why You Should Care: Turf was the only one of the startups from last year's up-and-coming startup list to make the cut again. That's because, 9 months later, it still hasn't launched but it is still highly anticipated. It was recommended for this list by multiple investors and tech people.

Turf will be launching in April. 'I can't wait until it launches,' says an investor who has not financially backed Turf. 'Michael is a design genius.'

Tseng, a former ad creative at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, has the background of someone who could finally design a fun, game-like local app.

To generate traction for his company, Tseng turned to group funding site, Kickstarter. He asked for $15,000 and had 56 backers in just 48 hours.

Foursquare's $50 million round proves there's money in location-based games, so Turf might have a shot too.

42Floors is like an apartment listing site but it is for companies that need an office

Startup: 42Floors

Date Founded: 2011

Founder: Jason Freedman

Concept: It can be as hard for companies to find office space as it is for people to find apartments. 42Floors lists office rentals on its site and says how much they cost per square foot.

Location: Currently in California for Y Combinator but moving back to New York City

Funding: $400,000 from SV Angel, Y Combinator and Start Fund

Why You Should Care: Of course a site like this should exist. Business Insider itself has moved four times in its four years of existence. The moving process is always long and painful. 42Floors addresses a need for employers at growing companies in constant need of a new, bigger home.

Timehop reminds you what you did one year ago today

Startup: Timehop

Date Founded: Late 2011

Founders: Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong

Concept: What were you doing one year ago today? Timehop uses Foursquare's API to help you answer that question.

Location: New York, NY (21st Street)

Funding: $1.1 million from Rick Webb, Dennis Crowley, Spark Capital, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Naveen Selvadurai, Kevin Slavin, Jared Hecht, Steve Martocci, TechStars NYC

Why You Should Care: First, we're impressed by the investors. Both Foursquare's and GroupMe's founders financially back Timehop.

Second, no one has made a successful time capsule online and Timehop is tapping into an interesting 'nostalgia' space.

If TimeHop starts pulling in things like conversations with friends you had one year ago, that could get interesting.

Clothes Horse helps you buy clothes that fit online

Startup: Clothes Horse

Date Launched: February 2012

Founders: Will Charczuk, David Wittenmore and Vik Venkatraman

Concept: A data-driven clothing measurement recommendation feature for e-commerce sites

Location: New York, NY (23rd Street)

Funding: Bootstrapped and DreamIt

Why You Should Care: Most people teeter at checkout because they're not sure if the item will be as great as it looks online. Clothes Horse seems to be just what some shoppers need to go through with the order. Bonobos tested Clothes Horse and saw sales increase 13%.

If Clothes Horse continues to gather data from shoppers, it could provide ecommerce sites with some pretty powerful information about consumers and how to best target them.

ShowMe is like an online-only Skillshare. The community creates and shares lessons on it so users can learn anything

Startup: ShowMe

Date Founded: August 2009

Founders: San Kim, Karen Bdoyan

Concept: ShowMe lets users create, teach and share lessons on its database.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $840,000 from Columbia Venture Competition, DreamIt Ventures, Lerer Ventures, SV Angle, Betaworks, Learn Capital, BOLDstart Ventures, Nava Ravikant, and Hector Hulian.

Why You Should Care: ShowMe is like a user-generated Khan Academy where everyone can be a teacher. Unlike Skillshare and General Assembly, it's online only so no physical classes are taught.

An impressive 1.5 million lessons have been added to date, and since its summer launch the iPad app has been downloaded 400,000 times.

CheckThis is somewhere between nothing and a blog. It lets users create social web pages easily.

Startup: CheckThis

Date Launched: October 2011

Founders: Melvyn Hills and Frederic della Faille

Concept: CheckThis is a quick way to create and share web pages. Users can either 'Tell' (blog), 'Sell' (post an item), 'Ask' (create a question) or 'Invite' (create an event).

Location: Currently Belgium, temporarily moving to Boston, then settling in New York, NY in July

Funding: Bootstrapped until it won Seedcamp last month. Former TechCrunch writer Robin Wauters (now of The Next Web) is a shareholder.

Why You Should Care: We first learned about CheckThis when First Round Capital tweeted about the site last month and Robin Wauters wrote about it on TechCrunch.

It's brilliantly simple. The web pages serve every major user need (sell, tell, ask or invite) and pages can be created and shared in seconds. The end result looks good too.

It's somewhere between Twitter and Tumblr.

Without spending any marketing dollars, 25,000 pages have been created on the site and 1,250,000 pageviews have been generated.

BONUS: OMGPOP re-emerged in the startup scene with its new mobile hit, Draw Something

Startup: OMGPOP

Date Founded: 2006

Founder: Charles Forman. CEO is Dan Porter

Concept: Produces Facebook and mobile games

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $16.6 million from Kevin Rose, Brian Pokorny, Baseline Ventures, Spark Capital, Baseline Ventures, Marc Andreessen, Betaworks, Bessemer Venture Partners, Spark Ventures, Rho Capital Partners, SoftBank Capital.

Why You Should Care: OMGPOP is an older startup than the rest on this list, but given the recent Draw Something phenomenon it deserves recognition.

After years of making mobile games, OMGPOP was all but dead while Zynga dominated. Since launching Draw Something six weeks ago, OMGPOP is like a whole new company. The game is generating 6-figures per day -- it has already generated more revenue for OMGPOP in the past few weeks than the company made all of last year.

OMGPOP was just acquired by Zynga for $180 million plus $30 million in employee retention payouts.

BONUS: Fab is only 9 months old but it has raised $51.3 million and rules design sales

Startup: Fab

Date Founded: January 2010 but pivoted and relaunched in 2011

Founders: Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shellhammer

Concept: Curated e-commerce for home and design

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $51.3 million from The Washington Post Company, Allen Morgan, Lars Hinrichs, Don Baer, Baroda Ventures, First Round Capital, Zelkova Ventures, SoftTech VC, SV Angel, Menlo Ventures, Jason Goldberg, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, A-Grade, Kevin Rose, Jon Anderson, Dave Morgan, Ben Ling, David Tisch, Joshua Kushner, Andreessen Horowitz

Why You Should Care: Fab barely existed when we put together the last list of up and coming NYC startups. In nine months it has exploded beyond early-stage status.

It has 3 million members and it's on track to generate more than $75 million this year.

Now see which startups wowed us last year:

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