With CES just days away, the tech world is about to be introduced to a bevy of new concepts and products that will define 2013 (at least, here’s hoping, right?). That said, there are plenty of startups already on the market (or nearing it) that have been building momentum over the past year, poised for success in 2013. Here are our picks for tech and digital startups that will be innovating and inspiring over the near year. If you don’t know these names now, we think you will come this time next year.
Publishing is evolving at rapid speeds that trend watchers can barely keep up with. Incubator Obvious Corp, which is run by some of the earliest brains behind Twitter, Biz Stone, Ev Williams, and Jason Goldman, launched Medium into private beta this past year. Since then, the site has been something of an experimental lab for writers and content producers, but Stone recently told me that the team wants to open it up “as soon as possible.” As news, search, and social continue to intersect, it’s anyone’s market right now, and it could very well be Medium’s.
The tweet-to-buy startup has finance disruption written all over it. The site allows you to send simple tweets in order to purchase items its sellers are using the system to offer; it’s a fast, easy, frictionless solution that’s attempting to actually make e-commerce social. It’s an idea others in the digital finance market, notably startup Dwolla, are starting to implement. As Chirpify grows in 2013, it’s like we’ll see more mechanisms to connect shopping and consuming with social networking – it recently launched integration with Instagram.
Gesture control will continue to grow this year, especially with the influx of Windows 8 PCs that are continually hitting the market. Leap Motion launched this past year to big acclaim for bringing its incredibly affordable, incredibly accurate device, The Leap, to consumers directly (CEO Michael Buckland recently told me shipments will start as scheduled in 2013). The startup has made significant headway with its developer and app ecosystems, and says we should expect continued OEM partnership announcements, like its recent deal to bundle its hardware with Acer units.
It should go without saying that Snapchat makes this list. The app that first took middle schoolers – and then the rest of us – by storm this year only just launched and has already secured itself a top spot in the App Store and inspired a Facebook clone. But it’s more than just the app itself that we should keep on an eye on 2013, it’s the private content sharing trend. Apps like Pair, Path, Bonfyre, and Everyme are in a nice position, thanks in part to Snapchat’s meteoric rise.
Lyft has been the talk of the Bay Area startup scene. The ride-sharing app allows you to either drive others or catch a ride, giving you the opportunity to earn a few bucks or find a more affordable lift. What’s perhaps the most encouraging part of using Lyft is its $1 million per occurrence excess liability insurance policy, so the inherent risk of ride-sharing is minimized. The sharing economy has strong-armed the startup world, and this – as well as its early popularity – could propel Lyft in 2013.
It should go without saying that 2013 stands to be very nice to Nest. The learning thermostat debuted to much applause from tech and green geeks everywhere. The company will only sell more units and earn more acclaim as home owners are increasingly concerned about saving money and energy – two things we have only seen become more and more important to consumers in recent years.
With the animated GIF solidly recapturing our fascination this year, Cinemagram could break into the big time and maybe even earn the coveted (and overused) “Instagram for ___” title image sharing apps have so liberally thrown at them. Cinemagram launched its app nearly a year ago, putting animated GIF (technically, cinemagraph) creation into the hands of anyone with an iPhone. Thanks to the mild but remaining Instagram backlash and the year of the animated GIF, it could become a popular new platform for creative image sharing.
Nextdoor is a private social network for your neighborhood, and despite that somewhat limited scope, it’s grown to 6,500 neighborhoods and just raised $18.6 million to keep expanding its platform. The site’s focus on keeping things private, secure, and local for its users has made it a popular social tool that’s also filled with utility. The private social networking concept is getting a big boost lately, and Nextdoor will likely keep benefiting from that.
The personal landing page continues to become a staple of your virtual profile, and RebelMouse has been at the forefront since winning the favor of Silicon Valley’s tech elite. The site brings together the various, scattered elements and content from your social profiles and creates a story board of sorts. There’s a lot of competition in this space, notably from products like About.me, Flavors.me, Vizify, and more directly Storify, but RebelMouse has managed to win some impressive beta users that could pump some new blood into it this year.
This 2012 TechStars NYC graduate falls squarely into the collaborative consumption startup bracket. This gadget startup is selling an $80 hotspot that connects to your Wi-Fi signal and distributes it to others in your area; it’s a concept Karma calls “social bandwidth.” The device uses a pay as you go system (1GB costs $14) and rewards you for sharing your connection – each time someone uses your Karma hotspot to connect to the Internet, you each get 100MB of free data. Karma has some impressive investors on its side, including Collaborative Fund, Elliot Loh, TechStars, and 500 Startups.
Now that Zipcar has exited the space and simultaneously given some more credence to the auto sharing concept, Getaround is poised to make a big play for the peer-to-peer car sharing market. Getaround gives car owners a way to share their wheels and make a few bucks in the process – and renters get temporary access to a car without having to deal with the prices and attached strings of traditional rental services. After winning TechCrunch Disrupt back in 2011, the startup has continued to gain momentum and expanding across the country. In a recent interview, co-founder Jessica Scorpio said the startup signed 10,000 car owners in the year and a half it’s been in business and just raised $13.9 million.