11 Startups Outside Silicon Valley to Watch in 2014


Year-end lists were all over the Internet in the last week. Hot companies, trends, IPOs, cat videos…if it was put on the Internet this year, there was a list for it.

Except, we couldn’t find one specifically focused on startups outside of Silicon Valley. Well, that’s obviously a problem, because while the Valley has a lot going on, there are plenty of great startups kicking ass everywhere else.

So, we took at look at our Mattermark account* to find our favorite startups outside of Silicon Valley. Founded by Danielle and Kevin Morrill and Andy Sparks, Mattermark is a startup itself, but they are quickly becoming a trusted source of information for investors looking for deals.

With 5 content companies on the list, it looks like 2014 will be the year that content really becomes king. Two companies in the top 11 are specifically focused on helping brands market on Pinterest, and the buzz they’re generating may indicate there’s a big market for their services.

A word about our methodolgy: we specifically focused on startups outside Silicon Valley (obviously). We also focused primarily companies in the Seed and Series A stages of funding.



 1. Upworthy is king of the buzz.

Upworthy gets so much attention, it’s almost hard to believe they’re not even 2 years old yet. The headline-focused content site focuses on “things that matter,” which means putting linkbait-y headlines on articles of importance so they’ll be shared more. Love ’em or hate ’em, Upworthy is probably the most buzzed-about early stage startup outside of Silicon Valley.


teespring2. Teespring crowdfunds custom apparel.

Boston-based Teespring provides a platform to create and sell custom t-shirts without the upfront costs. It works like any other crowdfunding platform: put your t-shirt design up, determine your sales goal, and customers are only charged if the shirts are actually printed.



tailwind33.Tailwind leads the way in Pinterest marketing.

We were super pumped to see our content partner Tailwind make an appearance in our Mattermark search. The New York and Oklahoma based company helps brands and marketers use Pinterest to the fullest. Make sure to check out their posts on social media marketing here at Nibletz and more on their blog.



prefundia4. Prefundia lets you see Kickstarter projects before they’re kickstarted.

One of the most common pieces of crowdfunding advice is to already know who you’re first funders will be. Essentially, you need to create buzz before the project even goes live. Prefundia helps build that buzz by letting creators post their projects and get feedback before they launch.



 twenty205. Twenty20.com brings your Instagram pictures off your phone and into real life.

Formerly Instacanvas, Santa Monica-based Twenty20.com allows mobile photographers to sell their pictures in online galleries. The 2-year-old company is already well-known among Instagram photographers, and the recent rebranding seeks to make the whole experience even better.



springme6. Spring.me proves that we’re not through with new social networks.

LA-based Spring.me is a social community based on interests. The unique thing about Spring.me is that, unlike other social networks, they’ve stated right from the beginning that sponsors and advertisers will also be incorporated into the community. The year old company isn’t Snapchat, but number 6 on our list ain’t too shabby.


written7. Written.com helps engage your customers.

Austin startup Written helps content marketers and bloggers to build audience and authority. They facilitate content licensing, syndication, and sponsored content. In a world where every startup needs to have content, it’s no wonder Written is getting a lot of buzz.



jobzella8. Jobzella is a career mega mall.

Cairo-based Jobzella puts all your job-seeking needs into one place, from skills classes to resume writing to actually seeking a job. They are still in beta and only recently closed their seed round, but it could be a big year for Jobzella.



rapidminer9. RapidMiner gives customers an edge with data mining.

Boston startup RapidMiner provides software and services that allows businesses to optimize their data through predictive analytics, data mining, and text mining. The company is a little older than the others on the list, but their recent $5 million Series A hints that they are working on some bigger stuff.



cointerra10. COINTERRA proves Bitcoin is going mainstream.

Austin-based COINTERRA is a “semiconductor engineering company.” They are designing cryptocurrency processors and systems on the bet that Bitcoin is going big. Considering the buzz around Bitcoin, it’s not surprising to see a Bitcoin company in the top 10 of our list.



ahalogy11. Ahalogy is cracking the Pinterest code for big brands.

Cincinnati-based Ahalogy helps companies market content, specifically on Pinterest. Their algorithms and data tools help “crack the code” to visual content marketing, starting with Pinterest.



*Mattermark uses a propietary algorithm to determine individual scores for each company. While these companies ranked high in the Mattermark app, this list was also subject to our editorial decisions and is not a pure reflection of Mattermark’s rankings.


Mobile First? Apparently Not In 2013, According To Mattermark

SmartphonesI love helping our clients look for promising deals, and I’m starting to recognize certain patterns for exceptional signals of growth that go beyond what our UI exposes in an obvious way. The most surprising thing the data has revealed lately is how few startups have widely used mobile applications.

Of the 200,000+ companies in our database just 6,386 received a mobile growth score, indicating they are or have been ranked in Apple’s iOS App Store in the United States sometime in the past six months. Of this group, only 1,180 are the flagship application of a venture-backed company.

Context: Challenges of Building Product for Mobile 

Investing in the growing mobile startups is highly competitive, but finding a promising deal feels a lot like searching for a needle in a haystack. For all the noise being made about going “mobile first” this strategy doesn’t seem to be working (or happening) at the majority of companies we are tracking. Andrew Chen’s piece from August 2012, which went viral again earlier this week, titled “Mobile App Startups Are Failing Like Its 1999″ explains the challenge:

Startups today have a super high bar for initial quality in their version 1. They also want to make a big press release about it, to drive traffic, since there’s really no other approach to succeed in mobile. And so we see startups burn 1/3 to 1/2 of their seed round before they release anything, it becomes really dangerous when the initial launch inevitably fails to catch fire. Then the rest of the funding isn’t enough to do a substantive update.

Context: Challenges of Distributing Products for Mobile

Relatively few startups have applications that are ranked in the App Store, and those who do often spend significant marketing dollars to keep them there. For early stage folks without that kind of budget anything short of an immediate hit will struggle for exposure, while an organic hit can catapult these companies to multi-billion dollar valuations seemingly overnight.

Here are the top 10 fastest growing mobile apps of EVERYTHING we are tracking, based on the Mattermark mobile growth score:

  1. Bitstrips [MM: 669] – Turn yourself into a cartoon character, make comic strips to share with friends. (No known funding)
  2. Notegraphy [MM: 852] – combine words and graphics to create beautiful notes to share (July 2013 $260K seed round)
  3. 24me [MM: 378] – automate your calendar and tasks (No known funding)
  4. Paprika [MM: 338] – recipe management (No known funding)
  5. Vinted [MM: 1699] – P2P marketplace for clothes (No known funding)
  6. Bandcamp [MM: 239] – publishing platform for musicians (December $10 Series A from True Ventures, unknown amount)
  7. uSpeak [MM: 67] – mobile language learning (July 2012 Seed round from Great Oak Ventures Capital, undisclosed amount)
  8. Anomo [MM: 65] – anonymous social networking app (June 2013 $355K seed round)
  9. TheFind [MM: 369] – mobile ecommerce (July 2007 $15M Series C from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures)
  10. SaveUp [MM: 156] – rewards for saving money and paying off debt (July 2012 $5M Series A by True Ventures and BlueRun Ventures, $7M total funding to date)

While many debate the accuracy of these valuations, they are missing the broader point. Few startups know how to do mobile distribution at a price point that makes sense for advertising-supported (or zero revenue) consumer applications, so anything short of a massive breakout hit carries the risk of ending up a huge money-pit for marketing dollars.

What About B2B Mobile Applications?

Ah yes, these rare unicorns. With my fantasy mobile fund I would aggressively go after any B2B mobile application with the slightest hint of organic traction and some previous funding (but not more than $10M) – these criteria whittle the list down to just 147 companies, and if you only want positive mobile growth scores the list is reduced further to just 40 prospects.

I think this is where we’ll find our next unicorns. Want to check some of them out? Here are top 10 on my list for B2B applications on the iPhone, ranked by Mattermark’s mobile growth score:

  1. CoTap [MM: 751] – workplace mobile messaging (May 2013 $5.5M Series A from Charles River Ventures & Emergence Capital Partners)
  2. Droplr [MM: 513] – simple secure file sharing for business (October 2013 $478K seed round lead by Seven Peak Ventures)
  3. Spotflux [MM: 294] – mobile security (March 2012 $1M Series A from New Atlantic Ventures and Kima Ventures)
  4. ClassDojo [MM: 1308] – behavior feedback platform for teachers and students (August 2012 $1.6M seed round from Ron Conway, Kapor Capital, StartFund, General Catalyst, Lerer Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund and SoftTech VC)
  5. Attendify [MM: 667] – event attendee engagement app (September 2013 $200K seed round)
  6. Certify [MM: 38] – travel and expense management for SMBs (October 2009 $1.9M angel round from Irving Levin, Joe Proto, Esther Dyson, and William Benedict)
  7. Weekdone [MM: 431] – team task management dashboard (November 2013 $200K round from Kima Ventures, $360K raised to date)
  8. QuickMobile [MM: 442] – enterprise event management and planning (May 2013 $3.2M round from BDC Venture Capital, total funding $8.8M to date)
  9. LightArrow [MM: 28] – organization applications (March 2013 $1M seed round)
  10. FullContact [MM: 578] – contact information management (July 2012 $7M Series B from 500 Startups, Foundry Group and David Cohen, $8.8M total raised to date)

Testing out a B2B mobile application can be tough, because it requires much more effort to get going. Unlike consumer apps, where at least some of your friends have likely already joined, with B2B applications you are often the first one. Loading in tasks, projects, schedules, plans, goals, and then getting someone else in the work context to test it out with you can pose a challenge. To fill in the UI and actually get a “real” testing experience takes more time than making a profile and posting a silly picture… and so most people won’t. Which is why for investors willing to expend the time and attention, these types of applications offer an unfair advantage.



Do you invest in mobile startups? Purchase our Mobile Startup Report for $999 to receive a spreadsheet of 6,386 startups with mobile growth scores. Data points include app store rankings, estimated downloads, investors, investment amounts and dates, growth stats for web and social, industry categorization and more. BUY REPORT >>

Danielle Morrill is the co-founder and CEO of Mattermark, the Bloomberg for startup investors. Mattermark tracks the growth signals of more than 200,000 private comapnies. The Mattermark newsletter is also one of Nibletz’s top 5 resources for startup newbies.

*This post originally appeared on the Mattermark blog.

IPO Watchlist Features 11 Startups Outside Silicon Valley

NYSE is a great place to IPO
Mattermark is bringing big data to venture capital, and their free daily newsletter is one of our favorite resources.

Last week, one of the daily newsletters included a list of 25 companies the Mattermark team thinks could file an S-1 or raise a final bridge round in 2014. There were some predictable names on the list, like Box, Uber, and Pinterest.

But, there were also lots of companies from outside of Silicon Valley. Eleven, to be exact. (Okay, 10 1/2. MongoDB has headquarters in both New York and Palo Alto.) So, in a list of 25, almost half the companies expected to IPO come from somewhere other than Silicon Valley.

New York has 4 startups on the list, making it the city outside the Valley with the most expected IPOs. International companies also had a strong showing, with startups based in New Delhi, Paris, and Beijing.

It’s true that no one area has the same concentration of tech startups as Silicon Valley, but the Mattermark list proves it’s probably time to stop saying you CAN’T build a tech company everywhere else.

Here are the startups from everywhere else that made Mattermark’s watch list:

  1. MongoDB (New York/Palo Alto)–MongoDB provides database technology to help companies take advantage of big data, cloud, mobile, and social trends. 
  2. Fancy (New York)–Fancy is a crowd-curated catalog that keeps up with new trends in merchandise, travel, and goods. You can buy right from the platform, putting it one step ahead of Pinterest. 
  3. Snapdeal (New Delhi)–Snapdeal is the largest online marketplace in India. They boast products in categories from fashion to computers to toys.
  4. Xiaomi Tech (Beijing)–Xiaomi Tech is only 3 years old, but their smartphone outsold the Galaxy S4 in the first half of this year. They also offer internet services like MiCloud, Xiaomi App Market, and Xiaomi Games.
  5. Outbrain (New York)–You know the “from around the web” box you see on some big publishers’ sites? That service is provided by Outbrain, a startup that helps content get discovered.
  6. Fotolia (New York)–Fotolia is a stock photography company that offers royalty-free images for creatives and designers.
  7. Wayfair (Boston)–Wayfair is a popular shopping site that offers all kinds of goods from your home.
  8. AirWatch (Atlanta)–AirWatch saw the mobile revolution coming, and they now provide solutions for the mobile workforce.
  9. JustFab (Los Angeles)–JustFab is the celebrity-backed startup that allows you access to shoes and accessories picked especially for you by professional stylists.
  10. Deezer (Paris)–Deezer is a European music streaming and discovery service.
  11. MuleSoft (London, Buenos Aires, Sydney)–MuleSoft connects SaaS and enterprise applications in the cloud. (One of their customers, Box, is also expected to IPO in 2014.)

We’ll be keeping an eye on these companies in the coming year, and we’ll let you know when the S-1’s get filed.