The Research Triangle area is a hotbed of intellectual capital, life sciences companies, and entrepreneurship - in fact, a recent DataFox study found Durham, NC to be one of the top cities to found a startup in 2015. With support from incubators like American Underground, top-tier local universities and large companies, the area boasts a thriving startup ecosystem.
From Internet of Things (IoT) startups to B2B companies to social innovations, DataFox has identified the top seven early-stage Triangle startups poised for a breakout year. We looked at pre-Series A companies founded after 2014, and ranked them by our proprietary Growth Score, a machine-learning algorithm that uses headcount, investor quality and six other factors to predict future revenue growth. Here are the 7 Research Triangle startups to watch in 2016.
foosye aims to be the comprehensive platform for food truck owners, event coordinators, advertisers and hungry foodies. Short for "food systems," foosye has built an app that allows food truck owners to predict attendance at events, manage ordering and other operational tasks, and connect with potential buyers. In addition, the company's API provides data on everything from health certifications to upcoming events. With very few competitors in the $2.7 billion mobile food truck service industry, foosye has a lot of room to grow.
With relatively little funding ($53,000 in total), foosye has built a team of developers, entrepreneurs and industry experts and looks poised to capitalize on the growing food truck trend.
2. Undercover Colors
Undercover Colors is tackling sexual assault head-on, developing nail polish that would change colors if it comes into contact with date-rape drugs. Founded by North Carolina State University materials engineering students, the company received intense media focus even before it had a product. In 2015, Undercover Colors raised $1.2 million in funding, built a team of seven employees (mostly chemists) and began testing its product.
With a cash infusion that largely comes from local investors, and a product that's progressed to the testing phase, Undercover Colors will find a willing audience if its product hits the market in 2016. As one parent posted on the company's Facebook page, "I can't wait for it to be available for my daughter in college."
K4Connect brings the Internet of Things trend to seniors and those living with disabilities: it connects medication management, climate control, security and more in one easy-to-use application for the client. Their first product - K4 Community - helps senior living facilities deliver better, more comprehensive, and more intuitive services, with future products planned including K4HomeCare (for home care professionals) and K4 Life (which serves seniors living at home). Half of Americans' healthcare spending comes in their senior years; the senior healthcare market is estimated at $7 trillion and is growing rapidly. By coordinating the myriad senior care apps and services, K4Connect is poised to be the backbone of a number of new products.
Backed by Sierra Ventures, Better Ventures and others, K4Connect closed a $1.9 million seed round in October 2015 and boasts a leadership team of startup veterans. Look for the company to put its newly raised capital to good use in the coming year.
ndustrial.io is the product of four years' worth of research into energy efficiency and sensor technology. The second IoT company on our list, ndustrial.io provides a comprehensive API for sensor data ranging from temperatures to movement to electrical use, all with the goal of increasing energy efficiency.
The company, which is in stealth mode, just closed a private equity round and is opening a branch in San Francisco to complement its office in downtown Durham. CEO Jason Massey has ties to each place: the NC State University alumni returns to Durham after a stint as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. With $1.4 million in newly raised funding, ndustrial.io will be able to grow its talent and tap into the booming sensor market.
RevBoss helps B2B and SaaS companies automate outbound sales development - according to its website, the product enables sales development representatives (SDRs) to “push a button, get a sales pipeline.” Housed in Durham's American Underground, RevBoss counts ListenLoop, CloudFactory and SimplyInsured among its customers, and raised $1.1 million in an October 2015 seed round led by Sovereign Capital. Its founder and president, Eric Boggs, has deep roots in the Research Triangle community: he received both his undergraduate degree and his MBA from UNC Chapel Hill.
Even as funding for consumer startups is tightening up, the B2B market continues to be strong. RevBoss' recently raised capital will come in handy, as the business looks poised to expand in 2016.
trinket makes learning Python easy, fast and shareable. Having already racked up a series of Wired articles that use Trinket to create quick-and-dirty models (including, of course, some Star Wars tie-ins), trinket combines an intuitive platform with tutorial videos helping everyone from grade school students to teachers learn to code. With lessons, challenges and a web as well as mobile app, trinket is poised to capitalize on the soaring interest in learning to code.
Founded in 2013, trinket is led by three North Carolina locals: Elliott Hauser, the CEO, holds degrees from Duke and UNC Chapel Hill; Brian Marks, the CTO, is an NC State University graduate and mentor to Research Triangle entrepreneurs; and Ben Wheeler, lead engineer, studied computer science at UNC Chapel Hill. The company has raised $425,000 since its founding in 2014, and is receiving the buzz and press that show promise for a breakout year in 2016.
Medlio provides a virtual health insurance card that helps patients understand the cost of treatment, providers to receive payments upfront and payers to coordinate the payment process. Using a secure app, patients can see up-to-date information on their copays and benefits, track progress towards paying off medical debt, and share medical information. David Brooks, co-founder and CEO, created Medlio after witnessing the rise of high-deductible insurance plans that shifted more and more financial responsibility onto consumers.
Despite having raised relatively little funding (it closed a $250,000 seed round in 2013), Medlio has already released a secure, comprehensive mobile app. In 2016, expect Medlio to capitalize on the rapidly changing health insurance market and trend towards empowering consumers.