Silicon Alley keeps expanding. New York City’s startup scene is flourishing as funding finds its way to the brightest ideas. Money is flowing not only from local heavyweights such as Union Square Ventures and AOL Ventures, but also from legions of angel investors and even Kickstarter.
Many of today’s startup pioneers have been around the track once or twice before, and they seem to realize more than ever that every good idea needs to be accompanied not only by wishful thinking, but also by a spot-on business plan. Here are 10 New York startups that are attracting lots of attention and investments.
Fab began as a social network for the gay community, but when the eyeballs didn’t show up, the site pivoted very quickly and very successfully to become an online store focusing on the best of cool, international design. With $50 million in funding, $75 million in sales, and ambitious worldwide expansion plans, it’s an object lesson in just how agile a startup can be when it finds itself floundering.
Outsourcing the messy details of our busy lives has a become a hot trend, and Fancy Hands helps with a team of personal assistants standing by to handle your chores or your schedule for a flat monthly fee as low as $25 (for five tasks). Use your assistant to order lunch, buy tickets, manage your calendar (a free feature) or research vetted service providers who will fix your plumbing or paint your bedroom at discounted prices.
“Quality is king. Freelance is the future. Anyone can be a publisher.” That’s the manifesto of Contently, a service (don’t call it a “content farm”) that matches writers with anyone who needs copy, whether it’s for publications, blogs or corporate websites. Funded in part by serial entrepreneur and co-founder of HubSpot, Dharmesh Shah, the site is already working with more than 40 publishers and brands and has a database of 3,000 approved writers.
The intriguing site and app Fancy, which is part Pinterest, part wish list and part online store, got going with $18 million of investment from heavy hitters such as Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz and ubiquitous tweeter Ashton Kutcher. It may not have the sheer numbers of Pinterest, but its users are highly engaged, a surprising number are male, and they spend money on the site’s many offerings, which range from fashion to design to travel.
Unused hotel rooms and airline seats have no value. The same goes for empty seats in movie theaters, which is why theater owners like the idea of MoviePass, which lets users attend as many movies as they want for a fixed price. Backed by AOL Ventures and still in true invitation-only startup mode, the service has attracted a lot of attention for its plan to bring yield management to the local multiplex.
Users of social media are recording their life histories on line, one tweet or blogpost at a time. Timehop takes you back, greeting you each day with a summary of what you were doing a year or two ago, courtesy of your archived posts to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Flickr, and your camera roll. Funded in part by Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley (it uses Foursquare’s API), the app makes the point that “‘past’ hasn’t been done right,” and they’re just the folks to do it over.
Adaptly positions itself as a bridge between traditional ad agencies and cutting-edge social networks, helping the former learn how to find the right consumers on the latter, by creating, executing and analyzing online ad campaigns. Its expertise covers all the big platforms including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others. Its latest innovation, Adaptly Momentum, pulls together available social metrics from all the social media platforms to show clients how their brand engagement changes over time, analytics that most ad agencies have no idea how to generate yet.
Now that consumers take photos on a variety of gadgets and store them on even more gadgets and websites, someone needs to step in and help organize the mess. Picturelife hopes to offer an all-in-one, all-access cloud-based home for all those photos that can create timelines, eliminate duplicates and run in the background to automatically grab new photos as they arrive. A free 3-GB plan holds up to 1,700 high-res pictures, while fee-based plans take the capacity all the way up to 300 GB.
Founded by a team of ex-Google employees, Stamped (no active link) is a an iPhone app for friends to put a “stamp” of approval on the things they like best, anything from restaurants to movies and music. The big news is that Stamped is a startup no more. It was the first major acquisition (for a price reported as “double digits”) by Yahoo!’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, and it will be folded into the Yahoo! ecosystem soon. It’s a big win for the Stamped team, and they’re not done. Their new job will be to create a new product and engineering office for Yahoo! near Bryant Park.