It’s nearly impossible to narrow things down, so consider a teaser menu from a range of categories. Some still have their wings wet, while others have called San Francisco home for a couple of years. With (relatively) cost-effective overhead prices, an overdose of talent at the back door and a state and city that’s startup-friendly, this California city is revolutionizing virtually every industry one startup at a time. Here are five biggies to watch in 2014.
Forget eBay or even the posh online stores like Yoogi’s Closet, because 99Dresses is a total game changer. You can tap into virtual currency in order to trade your clothing and accessories, kind of like a digital Naked Lady Party (but with many more ladies attending). Founded by Nikki Durkin in 2010, it’s the ultimate in online clothes trading and the Australian test run boasted impressive figures. In total, there were 4,500 dresses uploaded and an astonishing 3,500 were “sold” so it’s clear that women are going quality for quality.
Techies are also getting behind this endless closet with Robert Scoble and Ben Parr dropping plenty of praise on this four-year-old company. As part of the Y Combinator program, 99Dresses has been primping since 2010, but was just officially launched in the US in early 2014. Already, it’s garnering some serious fashionista attention and if Australia is any indicator, it’s about to seriously up the frugalista factor, too. Who says you need plenty of cash in order to dress like one of the starlets farther south?
2. Omada Health
Tapping into technology to help prevent diabetes, this trio founded Omada Health in 2011 targeting those who are pre-diabetic in order to aid them in changing behaviors and lifestyles before “full blown” diabetes occurs. Type-2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in the US and is the leading cause of blindness and amputation in adults (it can also lead to a host of other diseases and illnesses, too). Sean Duffy, Adrian James and Andrew DiMichele are behind the project and they’ve already secured $800,000 from Kapor Capitol, Esther Dyson and Aberdare.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic, which means 33% of US adults will be diabetic by the year 2050. Diabetes can be prevented by adhering to a “diabetic diet” and making lifestyle changes such as exercising more and stopping smoking. Preventative measure are the only way to stop this epidemic from spreading, but Americans aren’t known for taking action in terms of health and obesity early on. Omada Health hopes to change that before it’s too late.
Need to buy a gift in a jiff? Wantful was founded by designer and proven entrepreneur John Poisson in 2011. The premise is simple: He’s tapped into social gifting and making a tidy profit on the fact that gift cards are a $109 billion per year industry. Poisson has already raised $5.5 million as part of a Series A funding scheme compliments of Harrison Metal Capital, Dave Morin, Polaris Venture Partners, Arjun Sethi, Greylock Partners and Forerunner Ventures.
Watch out, Chatroulette, because there’s a new video social site on the map. Sean Parker, Shawn Fanning and Joey Liaw founded this new social media platform in 2011 by using Facebook to pinpoint members. The trio have already raised an impressive $8.5 million compliments of investors like Ashton Kutcher, will.i.am, Alexis Ohanian, Yuri Milner, Ron Conway, Marissa Mayer, and Ron Conway. If Parker’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s a pro at building names that last (think Napster).
You can’t have a best of San Francisco list without getting a little political, which is why Votizen rounds things out. Founded in 2009 by Matt Snider, Jason Putorti and Davide Binetti, this startups uses social media technology to make up an online hub of voters. By raising $2.5 million from major firms like 500 Startups, Founders Fund and Founder Collective, Votizen just scored their second round of funding in February 2014 compliments of other investors like Ashton Kutcher and Sean Parker. It also just breached the one million users mark and appeared as SXSW with Al Gore as a stage partner.