Start-ups to Watch in 2012
Which start-ups are likely to make headlines next year? From personal image curating to social task-mastering, these seven companies generated plenty of buzz in 2011, but are set to take the spotlight in 2012.
Launched in June, Pawngo is best described as an online pawn shop: users can put up an item of value and receive relatively small loans. In less than six months, the Denver-based start-up, venture-backed by several firms included Lightbank and Daylight Partners, has already loaned more than $2 million in 46 states to users. CEO Todd Hills says: "We felt that with the current economic conditions and the tightening of credit, there is a new set of customers out there that this service lines up very well with."
Launched in 2010, this invite-only social discovery platform lets users connect through the images, pages, recipes, and whatever else they find on the internet. Think of it as a personal online mood board. Though it has been around for over a year, it quadrupled its number of visitors since August, going from one million to now over four million in just four months. Co-founder Evan Sharp told Mashable: “We didn’t build this company to build a really hot tech start-up…It came out of what we wanted to build—more than the idea to build.”
Founded in 2008, San Francisco-based TaskRabbit, an online task-for-pay platform, is growing leaps and bounds. In early December, it received $17.8 million in series B financing and plans to expand from five cities to 12 by next year. But with caution. “For us, we would rather accelerate our growth in a smaller market, creating a continually great experience for our customers," CEO Eric Grosse told The New York Times. "It only takes one subpar experience to generate a negative feedback loop.”
Slice is a free online service that organizes users' online purchases. While still currently in beta, the service has generated a good amount of press this year, with very positive reviews of its service. In early December it announced a new "Track with Friends" feature, which let's users visually track gift packages.
Ever wanted to keep a better eye on your competitors pricing strategy? BlackLocus, which launched in 2010, is an online service which lets you do just that. In July, the Pittsburgh-based start-up got a $2.5 million equity investment by venture capital firm, DFJ Mercury.
This online service that streamlines expense reports has raised over $6.7 million in two investment rounds. Though founded in 2008, today the company counts 90,000 organizations as customers and 650,000 individuals. The company has expanded the service to phone apps, giving it a recent boost in popularity.
Founders Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp founded Birchbox, a $10 per month subscription service that sends beauty samples to members, last year. Less than a year old, Brichbox currently has around 45,000 users and 25 employees. Birchbox closed a $1.4 million seed round, from investors including First Round and Accel Partners. The service has expanded to giving beauty advice, via their blog. “We were inspired by the idea that every woman would want a best friend who’s a beauty editor and is helping them curate the clutter,” says Beauchamp.