Company Profile

Opendoor

For easing the pain of buying and selling homes.

Industry
Real Estate
Location
San Francisco, California
Year Founded
2014
Company Size
201-500 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Jun 13, 2017
Company Description

Why It's Disruptive

Opendoor wants to change the way people buy and sell their homes by removing the painful parts, like the hassle of home-showing and paperwork. When customers decide to sell with Opendoor, the company makes an offer, lets the homeowner choose a move-out date (up to 60 days after the offer is accepted), and buys the property. This eliminates the long waiting game owners typically experience when listing their homes and gives Opendoor inventory to sell to prospective buyers.

Opendoor has bought and sold more than 6,000 homes, which totals a transactional value of more than $1.5 billion. The company operates in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and it allows buyers to visit houses throughout the day using the mobile app, removing the hassle of arranging viewings. The company has plans to expand throughout the U.S. by launching services in a handful of other cities this year.

Biggest Challenges

The biggest challenge for Opendoor is getting consumers to change some very entrenched habits. Opendoor publishes reviews on its site, connects customers with a local experience manager for support, and offers comparable home sales data in a seller's neighborhood. Still, buying or selling a home is one of the largest individual transactions a person can make in their lifetime, and the vast majority of people still go to traditional real estate agents. --Emily Canal

 

Twist Bioscience

For reading and writing DNA faster and more cheaply than ever before.

Twist Bioscience.
Industry
Health
Location
San Francisco, California
Leadership
Emily Leproust
Year Founded
2013
Company Size
51-200 employees
Data as of Publication on Jun 13, 2017
Company Description

Why It's Disruptive

Twist Bioscience has radically reduced the cost of working with DNA by retooling the technology used to synthesize it. This innovation could help lead to huge advances across a number of different applications. The research and testing carried out by Twist's customers range from vaccine development to improving agricultural crop yield. There is even the possibility of using DNA as a data-storage medium because of its affordability and durability. Microsoft has purchased millions of DNA strands from Twist in a project with the University of Washington to research the theory. 

Co-founder and CEO Emily Leproust says that in 2016 the company shipped about 30,000 genes, a number that's already been eclipsed by the first quarter of 2017. Among Twist's customers is Ginkgo Bioworks (another finalist on Inc.'s Disruptive list), which in 2016 placed the largest order of synthetic DNA in history, according to Twist.

Biggest Challenges

While Twist says that it's currently serving the 100 largest customers in the market, the company will need an efficient way to serve smaller-scale customers, too. Opening up new markets altogether means continuing to push down the cost of synthesis, which relies on first-class research-and-development efforts, and doesn't come with a guaranteed timeline. --Sonya Mann

ClassDojo

For making it easier for parents and teachers to track students' progress.

Industry
Education
Location
San Franciso, California
Year Founded
2011
Company Size
11-50 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Jun 13, 2017
Company Description

Why It's Disruptive

ClassDojo is a behavior-tracking app that allows teachers to make a schedule of daily activities and share it with parents. Think of it as a virtual classroom: A cartoon avatar represents each student, and parents who log in can see their child's classroom conduct score, feedback on assignments and projects, and direct messages from teachers. Liam Don and Sam Chaudhary co-founded ClassDojo in 2011, when there was an abundance of other edtech businesses creating digital curriculum and testing platforms. But no one made an app allowing teachers to easily communicate with parents about a student's progress.

"The classroom model has always taken a very top-down approach," says Chaudhary, who worked as a teacher for several years after college. "It's standard to have a parent-teacher conference--once every two months or so--to see how a student is doing. That's kind of crazy," he says, likening it to the idea of employees speaking to their bosses only every other month. Now there are a number of similar student-tracking apps, like Remind and Class Messenger. Chaudhary says that more than two-thirds of all U.S. schools have at least one teacher using ClassDojo. When the app first launched, 80 teachers signed up, he says. Five weeks later, another 12,000 hopped on board--all of this by word of mouth.

Biggest Challenges

While people have raised privacy concerns--a common issue for any tracking app--Chaudhary says that ClassDojo does not share or sell any personal information. The company's biggest priority is convincing schools and parents to buy premium features and educational content so that ClassDojo can reach profitability. --Vanna Le

AirMap

For making the skies safer by mapping where you can--and can't--fly a drone.

Airmap.
Industry
Logistics & Transportation
Location
Santa Monica, California
Year Founded
2015
Company Size
51-200 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Jun 13, 2017
Company Description

Why It's Disruptive

AirMap is aiming to be in the right place at the right time--and for co-founder and CEO Ben Marcus, that's in the sky. As more drones fill the air, Marcus's company wants to be the data platform that makes them safer. AirMap provides real-time, low-altitude airspace information and services (like weather conditions and local airspace rules), essentially letting you know if there are any flight restrictions where you want to fly your drone. The service is free for drone operators but comes with a fee for airspace managers such as universities and navigation service providers.

Industry players like Microsoft, Airbus, Qualcomm, Yuneec, and Sony have poured in $26 million in Series B funding, betting alongside AirMap that drones are ready to evolve from impressive toys to the future of package delivery and transportation. Other major players are also paying attention: Marcus says the Federal Aviation Administration, Amazon, Rakuten, and Intel are all working with AirMap in some way. Drones from top manufacturers DJI and 3DRobotics come with AirMap data and services already installed, and flight apps and ground control stations use AirMap data as well. 

Biggest Challenge

AirMap isn't the only company in this airspace game. There are several others that manage drone flights, such as Skyward (acquired by Verizon) and the FAA's app B4UFly. Google announced on June 7 that the company successfully completed a series of tests for its own air traffic management platform for drones, Project Wing, and Amazon is also working on low-altitude air traffic control solutions. The rush to manage the skies is on. --Jennifer Eum

Vionx Energy

For changing the way energy is stored through long-lasting grid-scale batteries.

Industry
Energy
Location
Woburn, Massachusetts
Year Founded
2014
Company Size
11-50 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Jun 13, 2017
Company Description

Why It's Disruptive

Vionx Energy is trying to solve one of the biggest issues with renewable energy: How do you get power from solar panels and wind turbines when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing? Vionx's durable storage units are like batteries that can hold and use that energy for up to 20 years. The technology can provide much-needed assistance to power grids by providing stable, long-lasting capacity, especially in cities with power needs generated from growing populations or neighborhoods that are underrepresented by power companies.

The company is currently working on getting its newest project up and running: a storage unit that pulls from wind turbines in Worcester, Massachusetts, and distributes the energy back to the community through the regional utility company National Grid.

Biggest Challenges

Vionx isn't the only company tackling the problem of storing renewable energy. As an upstart in the industry, it faces competition especially from makers of lithium ion batteries, such as Tesla, LG, and Samsung. But the company may have an edge: Lithium ion batteries can be volatile and they lose capacity over charging cycles, often requiring replacement in less than 10 years. --Emily Canal