Earlier this year, Dave Fontenot founded the largest undergraduate hackathon in the US.
MHacks brings together more than 1,000 students from universities around the world for three days of hacking and is sponsored by the likes of Google, Facebook, Andreessen Horowitz, Apple, Twilio, and Twitter.
Recently, Fontenot asked his following on Facebook for the hottest startups in Silicon Valley, and his question recieved an outpouring of interesting answers.
Date founded: April 2009
Company size: 7 employees
Financing: This year, Firebase raised $US5.6 million from Union Square Ventures and Flybridge Capital Partners, bringing its funding total to $US7 million
Why we like it: Called the Dropbox of apps, Firebase dramatically simplifies app development (and its founders theorize that it could eventually serve about 95 per cent of the applications on the web). Plus, the company boasts some pretty impressive customers, including CBS, BitTorrent, twitch, and Code Academy.
The founders of Nextdoor believes that good things happen when neighborhoods start getting connected.
Date founded: 2010
Company size: 60 employees
Financing: In October, Nextdoor recieved $US60 million in funding from the likes of Greylock Partners, Benchmark, and Kleiner Perkins, bringing the company to a total of $US100 million raise.
Why we like it: Nextdoor hopes to make neighborhoods stronger and safer and has over 22,000 using it around the country so far.
But the words of David Sze, an early investor in Facebook, Pandora, and LinkedIn, who wrote Nextdoor a $US15 million dollar check on behalf of Greylock Partners, might be the best sign: 'It has all the hallmarks of being the next great massively valued social network. I see every social network that comes out. I've sorted through all of them and passed on most of them.'
Name: Leap Motion
Date founded: October 2010
Company size: 80 employees
Financing: Earlier this year, Leap Motion raised $US30 million from Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and Highland Capital Partners, bringing its total funding to $US44.1 million.
Why we like it: The first computer to use Leap Motion technology will launch this fall and we're pretty excited to see all the cool things people will invent with Leap.
There is so much potential for this kind of gesture technology.
Date founded: May 2013
Company size: 2 employees, but actively hiring
Financing: $US1.2 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Maverick Capital, and Y-Combinator.
Why we like it: Although traditional analytics can give app creators a lot of information about how users are interacting with their product, WatchSend goes further by remotely recording users' screens, and providing information that was previously impossible to track.
Date founded: August 2012
Company size: 5 employees
Financing: $US1.2 million from Y-Combinator, Ron Conway (one of the first investors in Google), and more.
Why we like it: This is the first company that nabbed Y-Combinator's Paul Graham for its board of directors. Watsi allows anyone to give as little as $US5 to fund someone's medical care and absolutely 100% of the money is donated. The mission of this startup is so beautiful, you just have root for its success.
Date founded: June 2012
Company size: Unknown
Financing: $US6.88 million from the likes of Union Square Ventures, Red Swan, and SV Angel.
Why we like it: We like Coinbase because it makes Bitcoin easy to understand, buy, sell, store, and use. And with the worth of Bitcoin edging towards an all-time high, we predict good things for the future of this company.
Date founded: July 2010
Company size: 55 employees
Financing: Kiip has raised a total of $US15.3 million, and recently received investment money from American Express, though the terms were not disclosed.
Why we like it: Operating on the idea that ad banners don't work, Kiip wants to turn the 'necessary evil' of advertising into something consumers will actually enjoy. The company gives users offers that augment -- not disrupt -- their app experiences. Who can really complain about a free voucher?
Name: Nest Labs
Date founded: May 2010
Company size: Unknown
Financing: Recently, Nest Labs raised $US80 million from Google Ventures and Venrock.
Why we like it: Founded by one of the inventors of the iPod, Nest Labs has a knack for beautiful, intuitive design. With its smart thermostat joined by its smart smoke and CO detector, Nest is trying to create an always-connected, intelligent home that can save energy and potentially save lives.