New York's Next Big Startups

Kelsey Falter

Photo: Kelsey Falter

New York City is continuing to make its mark in the startup community. In the last year, big-name companies spent $8.3 billion on mergers and acquisition deals in 100 New York-based startups, according to a recent report by PrivCo

That tally put New York right behind the heart of the tech industry, Silicon Valley, where 226 deals totaled $21.5 billion.

After speaking with VCs and entrepreneurs, and scoping out AngelList, we selected 25 early stage startups that are generating a lot of buzz in the tech community.

Modern Guild is helping prepare students for college and their careers

Startup: Modern Guild

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Adrien Fraise

Concept: An online platform that connects high school and college students with mentors. In either an eight- or 10-week course, students must meet with their mentors and participate in customised career-building exercises.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $500 thousand seed from investors including Jawbone founder Alex Asseily

Why You Should Care: Preparing for life is just as important as preparing for college. That's why Modern Guild helps high school students prepare for college, and helps college students prepare for the working world.

Blue Apron is taking the pain out of cooking

Startup: Blue Apron

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Matt Salzberg, Ilia Papas, and Matthew Wadiak

Concept: Monthly subscription service for fresh ingredients.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $800,000 from Nat Turner, Zach Weinberg, Seamless founder Jason Finger, Eric and Alan Gould, Graph Investments, and James Moran.

Why You Should Care: Blue Apron helps people discover the joy of cooking by removing all the friction from the process except the clean up. It sends you ingredients for three meals per week, along with seasonal recipes from top chefs.

PopTip harnesses information from social networks to give you crowdsourced news

Startup: PopTip

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Kelsey Falter

Concept: PopTip captures and analyses activity on social networks to give you relevant news in real-time. Brands and marketers can also conduct polls via social networks, and get instant feedback.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1 million+ from TechStars, Lerer Ventures, Softbank, RSE Ventures, David Tisch, Ori Allon, LeeAnn Daly, Scott Belsky, Soraya Darabi, Amer Rehman, and Tricia Black

Why You Should Care: PopTip is aiming to make feedback more transparent and easier to sort through for brands and marketers. It's an incredibly powerful tool for brands to figures out what their customers are interested in.

BarkBox is trying to make life better for dogs and easier for their owners

Startup: BarkBox

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Matt Meeker, Henrik Werdelin and Carly Strife

Concept: Monthly subscription service for dog treats, toys, and other goods.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1.8 million from Mike Hirshland's, Lerer Ventures, RRE, Polaris Ventures, Bertelsmann, 500 Startups, ShoeDazzle's Brian Lee, Gary Vaynerchuk, Josh Abramson, Nat Turner, Zach Weinberg, Doug Chertok, Aaron Earls, Mike Jung and Aaron Harris

Why You Should Care: Bark Box is blossoming into both an e-commerce and content company, one VC tells us. It already has thousands of monthly subscribers and has partnered with Groupon and LivingSocial to continue to fuel its growth. It's also in talks with major pet brands to form partnerships like, 'Buy two boxes of milk bones, get a free BarkBox.'

Grouper is trying to make dating less awkward

Startup: Grouper

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Michael Waxman, Tom Brown

Concept: Grouper sets up casual meetups or dates between two groups of friends.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $400K from Y Combinator

Why You Should Care: Most datings sites, though Grouper is technically a 'social club,' can be pretty awkward. Grouper, though technically a 'social club' aims to get rid of that awkwardness by providing a platform that doesn't take you too far out of your comfort zone. Since launching last year, Grouper has expanded its offerings into 10 new cities.

littleBits turns legos into electronic toys

Startup: littleBits

Year Founded: 2009

Founders: Ayah Bdeir

Concept: An open source library of next-gen lego-like toys. Each little bit has a specific function, like light, sound, or motors, and snaps together to make a toy.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $3.65 million from investors including Joi Ito, Joanne Wilson, True Ventures, Khosla Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Lerer Ventures.

Why You Should Care: littleBits is helping spark the creativity in children. Children can get the physical experience of building, while also learning about art and technology. littleBits are like the toys of the future, one VC tells us.

Artsy is changing the way the world looks at art

Startup: Artsy

Year Founded: 2009

Founders: Carter Cleveland

Concept: Art discovery platform.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $7.25 million from the likes of Josh Kushner of Thrive Capital, Wendi Murdoch, David Tisch, Dave Morin, Keith Rabois, Founder Collective, Jack Dorsey, Peter Thiel, Dasha Zhukova, and Alexis Ohanian.

Why You Should Care: Artsy has secured deals with many of the top galleries in the world. As of this month, Artsy has more than 21,000 pieces of art from over 4,500 artists.

NowThisNews is trying to reinvent television news for the Internet

Startup: NowThisNews

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Ken Lerer and Eric Hippeau

Concept: A mobile social video news network

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $5 million led by Lerer Ventures

Why You Should Care: NowThisNews has a dream team. Lerer co-founded The Huffington Post, Hippeau is the former CEO of the Huffington Post, and Eason Jordan, who came on board in September, is CNN's former CEO. NowThisNews also formed a strategic video partnership with BuzzFeed, which recently surpassed 30 million users.

Joyride Coffee is helping keep New York caffeinated

Startup: Joyride Coffee

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Noah, David, and Adam Belanich

Concept: Local, fresh coffee delivery to offices. Joyride Coffee offers customised plans for offices and provides them with professionally-installed equipment.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Joyride's clients already include some of the biggest names in the New York tech scene, like Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Gilt, and Buzzfeed. Joyride is also cheaper per cup than K-cups.

Social Bicycle makes it super easy to find a bike and helps save the environment at the same time

Startup: Social Bicycles

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Ryan Rzepecki

Concept: Bike-sharing program for cities that lets you rent and unlock bicycles using a smartphone app.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Bikes can be the easiest way to quickly get from one place to another, especially if you're living in a city like New York where traffic can be rough. But it's not always ideal to actually own a bike, so that's where Social Bicycles comes in. The system will help the environment while also mobilizing city dwellers.

Derby Jackpot is bringing horse betting online

Startup: Derby Jackpot

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Walter Hessert, Tom Hessert, and Billy Hessert

Concept: Legal online horse betting game.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1 million seed round from an undisclosed investor

Why You Should Care: It's the first social horse-betting game that you can take part in online. Being so early to the market puts them in a great position to grow and succeed.

Namely helps ad agencies and other businesses retain talent

Startup: Namely

Year Founded: 2011

Founder: Matt Straz

Concept: Cloud-based HR management tool for advertising companies, law firms, and consulting agencies.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1.75 million in total from investors including Mike Lazerow, Michael Barrett, Lerer Ventures, and Bullpen Capital

Why You Should Care: Ad agencies are constantly struggling to figure out how to attract and retain talent. But with Namely, organisations can track employee performance, team dynamics, and company growth in real-time.

Jukely is a personal concert concierge

Startup: Jukely

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Andrew Cornett and Bora Celik

Concept: Jukely is a personal live music concierge that learns from you and your friends' music tastes to make show recommendations.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: It can be really hard to find out about shows you're interested in before it's too late. So it curates and notifies you of upcoming shows happening nearby. Since it has deals in place with promoters and venues, Jukely can get you on the guest list and all you have to do is show up.

Its co-founder Bora Celik has an impressive background in the music industry, having spent nine years as a concert organiser.

Mack Weldon takes the pain out of buying mens underwear

Startup: Mack Weldon

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Brian Berger and Michael Isaacman

Concept: Underwear and shirts for men made with a special blend of cotton, Lycra, and Lenzing Modal fabric.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Mack Weldon has some of the best underwear in the world for men, we've been told.

And its co-founders are no stranger to business world. Berger previously worked at Comcast's CIM product group, and Isaacson has worked at brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hillfiger, and Rocawear.

Splash makes it dead-simple to create a splash landing page

Startup: Splash

Year Founded: Pivoted from One Clipboard in 2012

Founders: Ben Hindman and Brett Boskoff

Concept: Easy-to-make splash pages for anything ranging from product launches, birthday parties, corporate events to weddings.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: You shouldn't have to delve deep into code just to make a website for a one-time event like a birthday, concert, or graduation party. Splash also offers event planning tools to help you manage your guest list and RSVPs. Splash isn't totally new, but since they rebranded, they've been seeing strong traction, one investor told us.

Floored lets you map and internal space and render it in 3D properties

Startup: Floored

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Dave Eisenberg, Dustin Byrne and Judy He

Concept: Floored provides software to turn physical spaces into 3D renderings. Interested buyers can view and interact with the properties via the Floored iPad app.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1 million seed from Lerer Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Red Swan Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Dave Vivero, founder of Rentjuice, and Thomas Lehrman, co-founder of Gerson Lehrman Group.

Why You Should Care: Floored is trying to make it easier for property owners to show off their offices, homes, and event spaces. With Floored, property owners can save a lot of time because instead of setting up several different showings, they can just direct interested buyers to the iPad app.

Hullabalu is building a storytelling platform for kids on the iPad

Startup: Hullabalu

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Suzanne Xie

Concept: Storytelling platform and toy store for kids on the iPad.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Hullabulu has an impressive founder who is 'focused on magic,' Michael Levitt, a managing partner at Founders Den wrote on AngelList. Another investor says it's perfectly poised to 'undermine a huge industry.'

Bondsy helps you get rid of the stuff you don't need anymore

Startup: Bondsy

Year Founded: 2011

Founder: Diego Zambrano

Concept: Mobile app for selling, donating, or trading goods with friends and friends of friends.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: led by Thrive Capital with participation from Betaworks, Chris Dixon, Patrick Keane, Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci.

Why You Should Care: Bondsy hasn't even launched yet, but it's already secured funding. It's arguably a safer version of Craigslist since only the people connected to you can see what you're selling. It also doesn't require a cash-only exchange, meaning you could offer to 'sell' a bike in exchange for a dinner on the buyer's dime.

Flint and Tinder is another startup going after the mens underwear space

Startup: Flint and Tinder

Year Founded: 2011

Founder: Jake Bronstein

Concept: Premium underwear and other basic clothing items for men made in the U.S.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $1.14 million from Kickstarter, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh; Fred Mossler, another early Zappos executive; Lerer Ventures; and David Tisch

Why You Should Care: As of May 2012, Flint and Tinder was the most successful fashion-based Kickstarter campaign. Bronstein only intended to raise $30,000, but ended up walking away with $291,493 from 5,578 backers.

Flint and Tinder aims to revive the American sew and cut industry. For every 1,000 pairs of underwear sold per month, Flint and Tinder says it adds at least one sustainable job in its supply chain.

Condition One is changing the way we watch video

Startup: Condition One

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Danfung Dennis, Takaaki Okada

Concept: Augmented reality iOS app that immerses you in a video by giving you a 180-degree field of vision.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $2.35 million from TechStars, Mark Cuban, and George Kliavkoff.

Why You Should Care: Condition One is the brainchild of photojournalist and Academy Award winner Danfung Dennis. It promises to change the way you watch video and consume news events by totally immersing you in it.

Lookmark wants to make it easier for you to find what to read

Startup: Lookmark

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Dave Zohrob, Amit Matani, Drew Lustro

Concept: A real-time feed of content posted in your social networks.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Undisclosed amount under seven figures from James Hong, Naval Ravikant, Jared Kopf, Matt Humphrey, and Evan Nisselson.

Why You Should Care: Many startups have attempted to solve the overabundance of content issue through social, but these founders are especially adept to fix it because of their experience with building online communities, Y Combinator partner Garry Tan wrote on AngelList.

Qnary helps you understand and manage your digital footprint

Startup: Qnary

Year Founded: 2011

Founder: Bant Breen

Concept: Platform to help you manage your online identity. Qnary works by first having you enter your name, along with a few potential keywords your name might be associated with, like 'Megan Dickey' and 'Business Insider,' for example. The next step is to connect your social networks, either LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, but it's best to connect all three to get the full picture of your online identity. Qnary then helps you optimise how you look online.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: How you appear online has become more important today than it ever has before, especially if you're looking for a job. Most job recruiters, 86%, look at a candidate's social media profile and respond negatively to things like profanity, sexually inappropriate tweets or posts, and grammatical errors, according to a Jobvite survey. That's why Qnary helps you see, manage and optimise how you appear online and in public searches.

Bant Breen is a long-time advertising executive who recently left the business to start his own venture. Since maintaining your personal brand online is a form of advertising, Breen seems like just the right guy to tackle the digital footprint space.

OneBeat is tapping into the $4 billion electronic dance music industry

Startup: OneBeat

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Mikhail Lapushner, Joe Kanellitsas

Concept: Media platform for electronic dance music. For consumers, OneBeat is an online video channel that broadcasts electronic dance music content and news both on its own platform and via YouTube. For advertisers, OneBeat offers them one place to reach electronic dance music fans.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: N/A

Why You Should Care: Electronic dance music is a $4 billion industry that's continuing to grow, but it's one space that has lacked a central place for fans to consume new content and track their favourite artists, until now.

OneBeat has already teamed up with popular EDM acts including Steve Aoki, Fedde Le Grand, and Digitalism to create original content and events for its YouTube channel. OneBeat also recently partnered with Microsoft to create an EDM app for Xbox LIVE.

TaxiTreats puts vending machines in taxi cabs

Startup: TaxiTreats

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Brian Shimmerlik and Tomas Grosskopf

Concept: A mini vending machine with things like energy drinks, snack bars, and gum, would be attached in the backseat of the cab near the taxi's TV to let you munch on some goodies will you navigate through the city. At the end of the trip, the food you ate would be added to your taxi fare.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $17,500 from the Next Idea competition, hosted by NY's Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Columbia University's School of Engineering

Why You Should Care: TaxiTreats could totally change your taxi cab experience in New York city, pending approval by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. TaxiTreats would not only improve the experience of the passenger, but also bring in more revenue for taxi owners.

Simple Bracket makes setting up fantasy sports betting pools a breeze

Startup: Simple Bracket by Studio Neat

Year Founded: 2013

Founder: Dan Provost, Tom Gerhardt

Concept: iPhone app for March Madness college basketball bracket.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $11,617 on Kickstarter with 16 days to go.

Why You Should Care: Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt have a pretty impressive track record, having already created two successful Kickstarter campaigns for The Cosmonaut, a marker-like tool for touchscreens, and The Glif, a tripod for the iPhone. It's absolutely gorgeous, John Gruber of Fireball recently wrote on his blog.

While this app is specific to March, we bet Provost and Gerhardt will have more up their sleeves in the months to come.

BONUS: RapGenius helps people figure out what rap songs really mean

Startup: RapGenius

Year Founded: 2009

Founder: Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Ilan Zechory

Concept: Lyrics site that explains the meaning of the words behind rap songs.

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $15 million from Andreessen Horowitz and an undisclosed amount from Lerer Ventures.

Why You Should Care: While Rap Genius isn't an early stage startup, its founders have ambitious goals to make RapGenius the number one website in the world. It's already one of the most-visited lyrics sites in the world.

RapGenius also recently launched a new site called Poetry Brain. Instead of explaining rap lyrics, Poetry Brain breaks down the meaning behind literature and poetry, and even things like Pope Benedict's resignation announcement, and scripts from the television show The Wire.

Can't get enough of New York startups?

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