2017 is already coming to a close and it's time to start thinking about what's next. Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get the headlines but there are millions of startups and under-the-radar businesses poised to do big things in 2018.
What I learned in compiling this list is that there isn't one growth industry. The growth industry is disruption as a whole. Every industry is open for a challenger to come in, disrupt and take market share. Not every startup will be a billion dollar business but that's alright. Most people would be perfectly happy being a multi-millionaire.
So learn from what others are doing, have realistic expectations and go out and innovate in 2018. You don't have to change the world to be successful, you just have to change one thing people use often or one thing they never thought they needed.
Included in this list are eight startups designing experiences that will make everyday life easier or businesses run more efficiently. Because the best new businesses next year and possibly beyond will focus on creating a better experience for people. They are all proof that you don't need to invent something completely new, you just have to make what we already do better.
There are thousands of growing startups that could be highlighted every year. Why these eight? They have strong investment, good growth trajectory but most importantly they created something where others may have thought the market was already saturated or there was too much competition. It pays to be fearless.
The "Airbnb of food trips" is now in 70 cities globally, having grown quietly and steadily its network of culinary experiences. Their site matches tour goers with hosts for tastings, home cooked meals and walking food tours. A recent excursion I went on in Flushing, New York, revealed the soft underbelly of Chinese cuisine in one of the most iconic neighborhoods in the Big Apple.
2. The Gadget Flow
An unlikely underdog that started in the depth's of Greece's recession, now boasts the largest product search engine with 25 million visits per month. Featuring products from Kickstarter, Etsy, Amazon, and IndieGoGo, the site also carries cutting edge products that just aren't available elsewhere or are "pre-release" products in the process of launching. The "Flow" even features cool Game of Thrones goods like a Dragonclaw goblet and aerial drone "countermeasure" devices for consumer use.
A handy app that makes social media shoppable. Its software lets you click on clothing and other objects in a friend's photo on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest and see a short list of places from which to buy, from Bloomingdale's to Yoox. The app pays you commissions when someone buys off of your social media feed.
4. CSI Enterprises
As companies move from an antiquated paper check payment system to digital ones globally, CSI Enterprises has the presence and the experience to become a premier provider in the space through their globalVCard platform. Even though CSI isn't a startup they are definitely a company to watch in 2018 because of their extensive payment card knowledge and full AP automation capabilities. They recently partnered with Concur to provide additional value to organizations with their vendors and travel needs.
Started by Groupon Co-Founder, Brad Keywell, Uptake has already raised $146 million. They're more than analytics and predictive software. They are laser focused on safety and allowing transportation, manufacturing and construction industries to enhance performance with data. Caterpillar is already a backer and they are growing quickly.
Post Equifax, everyone is or should be concerned with privacy and their identity. Pindrop is now being used by 3 of the 4 big banks to identify and neutralize phone calls that are intending to steal someone's identity. The phone number, like a website can be flagged and you'll get a notification that the number may be a scam.
Finally, if you've ever waited to get in line at a restaurant there's an app for that. Nowait, which partners directly in the Yelp app, allows people to virtually stand in line for a restaurant. Millennials may be killing chain restaurants but food will never go out of style and reducing wait times is good for everyone. Backers include Yelp and Carnegie Mellon Ventures.
Started in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bellhops is now in over 50 cities. The concept is simple. Local college students in a market move your stuff. That's not new but how they weave tech in to an outdate process is. It uses algorithms to determine how to make a move the most efficient and affordable. Everything is handled online from booking to select a type of move.