- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
New York City has long been known as a hub for finance, ecommerce, and health care startups.
But recent years have seen a rise in another breed of startups tackling issues ranging from crime to housing, sports to beauty.
In many ways, New York has become a hub for diverse companies – with even more diverse founding teams.
Each year, Business Insider talks to industry insiders and venture capitalists to find some of the most exciting companies in the region. Their nominations, plus some fundraising data from PitchBook, help shape this list of startups to watch. To limit the list, we only included companies founded in the last five years and narrowed it down to startups headquartered within the greater New York City area.
The companies featured range from those that are just getting their start, to some that have already inked major deals and gained national exposure. All of the companies featured seem poised to do big things in the coming year.
Here are the hottest startups in New York to keep your eye on:
Brooklinen offers luxury bedding at non-luxury prices.
What it is: Brooklinen is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Vicki and Rich Fulop, a couple based in – where else – Brooklyn. The company was founded three years ago and initially sold its wares on Kickstarter.
The premise of Brooklinen is “luxury bedding at non-luxury prices.” As an ecommerce site, the company wants to cut out all possible middlemen and avoid brick-and-mortar retail. In doing that, Brooklinen says it eliminates as much as $200 in costs – its bedding starts at $99, compared to what the company says can be more like $300 at traditional retailers.
Brooklinen now offers plenty of items for the bedroom, including sheets, comforters, pillows, and candles. But it has stuck to just two fabrics: classic percale, and “Luxe,” which has a higher thread count.
Founders: Rich and Vicki Fulop
Funding: $10 million from FirstMark Capital
Elysium Health is developing supplements that could prevent aging.
- Courtesy ElysiumHealth
What it is: Elysium Health wants to help people live longer, healthier lives through supplements. Elysium’s first product is a supplement called Basis, which aims to boost levels of a specific protein found in cells. The protein, called “nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide” (NAD), may help prevent aging.
The supplements industry can be a tricky one to navigate. Supplements aren’t regulated the same way prescription drugs are, which means they don’t always contain what they say they do.
But Elysium is trying to change that. The company boasts an impressive board of scientific advisors and presents results of its clinical trials, which are intended to show that the supplement is safe.
Founders: Eric Marcotulli, Dan Alminana, and Leonard Guarente
Funding: Elysium Health has raised a $20 million Series B led General Catalyst and joined by Breyer Capital, Morningside Ventures, and Sound Ventures
Bowery is moving farming indoors.
What it is: Bowery isn’t the first startup to venture into the world of urban farming, but it hopes to be the most innovative.
Located about 15 miles outside of New York in Kearny, New Jersey, Bowery grows its plants inside a giant warehouse. Because of that, the company estimates it can grow 100 times more greens per square foot than the average urban farm.
Bowery grows its plants under LEDs instead of sunlight and inside nutrient-rich water beds instead of soil. The startup even has its own operating system, FarmOS, to change the weather conditions in the warehouse.
Bowery now sells its plants at Whole Foods and Foragers locations in the New York City area.
Founders: Irving Fain, David Golden, and Brian Falther
Funding: $27.5 million from General Catalyst, GGV Capital, GV, First Round Capital, Box Group, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Tom Colicchio, and others
Citizen helps you avoid crimes in your neighborhood.
What it is: Citizen’s goal is to keep you informed of crimes in your area. The app shows you a real-time map of incidents in your area sourced from 9-1-1 calls, and if you’re in a quarter-mile radius of an incident, you’ll get a push notification.
Users can get real-time updates about ongoing crimes, and watch and upload videos of the incident within the app. Citizen worked with public safety experts, police, and civil rights leaders to get input on how to make the app safe for people to use.
Citizen first launched a year ago as an app called Vigilante. The app quickly went viral, but was pulled from the app store due to safety concerns. Vigilante relaunched in March as Citizen, and has since expanded to San Francisco after a six-month beta test in New York.
Founders: Andrew Frame
Funding: $13.5 million from Sequoia Capital, Founders Fund, and others
Zola is an all-in-one wedding planning site.
What it is: Zola began as a modern, high-tech approach to wedding registries. The platform lets couples register for everything they want, then adds convenience features like delaying shipping until after the wedding. Users can even register for cash funds to pay for things like honeymoon airfares. The company makes money on every purchase made through its site.
Zola launched in 2013 and has recently expanded beyond registries with Zola Weddings, a free platform for all things wedding-related, like a building a wedding website, guest list, and tracking RSVPs.
Founders: Shan-Lyn Ma and Nobu Nakaguchi
Funding:$40 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Thrive Capital, Canvas Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Female Founders Fund, and others
Quartet Health uses data to provide personalized mental health care.
- Quartet Health
What it is: Quartet Health is a behavioral health startup founded in 2014 that uses data to connect a patient’s primary care doctors with his or her mental health professionals to identify co-occurring or related issues.
Quartet then connects patients to resources that are tailored based on location and insurance providers, and helps doctors grow their practice. Quartet says its service is good for insurance companies too, since it can help cut down on costs by improving the overall health of patients.
Quartet told Fortune that it now provides service to over 1 million patients.
Founders: Arun Gupta
Funding:$47 million from GV, Oak HC/FC, and others
Dandelion wants to make heating and cooling your home a lot cheaper.
What it is: Dandelion only recently made its debut on the startup scene after being spun out of X, the “moonshot” division of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
Dandelion’s goal is to build less expensive geothermal systems to heat and cool homes. The company has developed its own means of installing the systems, which it says is a lot cheaper than the current process.
The company plans to provide services to qualified homes in New York state to start, then eventually expand in the Northeast and into the Midwest.
Founders: Kathy Hannun and James Quazi
Funding: $2 million from Collaborative Fund, Borealis Ventures, ZhenFund. X, Alphabet’s R&D lab, is a partial owner
Function of Beauty wants to give you better hair through customized beauty products.
- Function of Beauty
What it is: Function of Beauty is a young startup trying to tackle an age-old problem: getting better hair.
The startup lets you create custom shampoos and conditioners based on your hair type and goals. If you want smooth, shiny hair, for instance, you can let the company know and they’ll build a concoction that fights frizz. Customers can choose the color and scent of their products, then set up automatic refills for a monthly fee.
Function of Beauty is less than a year old, but it’s already seen massive success: the company is already generating revenue and is valued at a whopping $110 million.
Founders: Zahir Dossa
Funding: $12.08 million from Y Combinator, GGV Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and SoGal Ventures
Anchor is bringing radio into the digital era.
What it is: Anchor is a platform for recording and uploading audio content, and aims to be the digital-friendly version of radio.
Anchor is a lot like Instagram or Twitter in that it allows users to publish content to anyone who follows their feeds. But it’s not about photos, videos, or text – instead, Anchor is all about your phone’s microphone.
The app lets users record up to two minutes of audio, then publish it. Users can reply to posts with their own audio messages, called waves. It’s like SoundCloud, but nothing can be pre-recorded, and no recording can be longer than two minutes. People use Anchor for anything from mini stand-up comedy routines to pretending to be characters like Yoda from Star Wars.
Founders: Mike Mignano and Nir Zicherman
Funding: $14.4 million from GV, Accel Partners, Eniac Ventures, CrunchFund, and others
Flip helps navigate the tricky world of apartment subletting.
What it is: Flip is a platform that allows tenants to list available space and find sub-letters.In a similar vein as Airbnb, hosts create a listing, add photos and information like how long the place is available. Flip then takes over, sending out a notice to the landlord, which protects tenants in case the process gets contentious later on.
If a user matches with a subletter, Flip will perform a credit check and make a recommendation as to whether that subletter is the right fit. Essentially, Flip is an advocate, assistant, and housing expert all rolled into one.
Flip operates in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and says it offers about 2,300 housing options in total.
Founders: Susannah Vila and Roger Graham
Funding:$3.4 million from Union Square Ventures, BBG Ventures, Joanne Wilson, Collaborative Fund, Techstars Ventures, and others
The Players’ Tribune is helping athletes share their stories.
- The Players’ Tribune
What it is: The Players’ Tribune launched in 2014, one day after Derek Jeter announced his retirement from the New York Yankees. Jeter and cofounder Jaymee Messler created the site with the goal of letting athletes tell their stories directly to fans.
The site pairs athletes with editors in order to craft the first-person written stories they want to tell, like when Kevin Durant announced his NBA free agency in 2016, or when WNBA star Breanna Stewart shared her own story of childhood sexual assault. The Players’ Tribune also creates podcasts, photo, and video content with athletes in sports ranging from hockey to football to e-sports.
The Players’ Tribune now has investments from more than 50 athletes, including Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Blake Griffin.
Founders: Jaymee Messler and Derek Jeter
Funding: $58 million from GV, NEA, IVP, Kobe Bryant, and others
Editor’s note: The author’s boyfriend is an employee at The Players’ Tribune.
Eligible helps take the pain out of medical billing.
What it is: Millions of people in the US interact with Eligible on a regular basis, but they probably don’t realize it.
Eligible acts as the middleman between healthcare providers and health insurance companies, figuring out whether a patient’s insurance will cover a doctor visit. Eligible also helps determine how much a patient will pay out of pocket.
Companies like ZocDoc, Cleveland Clinic, and Oscar use Eligible’s service. The startup is based in Brooklyn and says it’s growing its sales by 40% per month.
Founders: Katelyn Gleason
Funding: $29.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Drew Houston, Steve Huffman, and others
Drone Racing League is building a new kind of spectator sport.
- Drone Racing League
What it is: Drone Racing League launched in 2015 with a straightforward mission: bring drone racing into the mainstream.
DRL’s races feature remote control air crafts that fly at speeds over 90 miles per hour. DRL has had to build the drones itself – it acquired a company called Dronecraft, a designer of high-end racing drones – as well as design the race courses, and pull all of the technology together to make it happen.
Founders: Nicholas Horbaczewski
Funding: $32 million from Hearst Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Sky UK, MGM Studios, CAA, Liberty Media, Allianz Ventures, WWE Ventures, Lux Capital, RSE Ventures, and CRCM Ventures
Transfix matches truckers with shipments to cut out wasted travel.
What it is: Transfix is one of several startups trying to become the “Uber for shipping” – matching truckers already headed somewhere with loads that need to be transported.
But Transfix aims to pull ahead of the pack with its tech savvy and environmentally friendly goal of cutting back on waste. The startup has a high-tech “fleet management system” that lets its customers track their shipments, message with drivers, and calculate fuel taxes. There’s also an online marketplace that lets customers have some control over who they’re matched with and what they’re paying.
Founders: Drew McElroy and Jonathan Salama
Funding: $78.5 million from NEA, Canvas Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Bowery Capital, and others
Warp + Weft is an inclusive, low-cost denim brand.
- Warp + Weft
What it is: Warp + Weft – textile terms for the specific weave in fabrics – was founded only a few months ago. It’s part of a growing trend of direct-to-consumer denim brands, but its focus on inclusivity and reasonable prices are what set it apart.
The startup was founded by veterans of the premium denim industry who noticed a gap in the market: Low-cost, high-quality denim for people of all shapes and sizes. The brand offers jeans in women’s sizes 0-24 along with petite sizing, and offers men’s denim in sizes 28-40. Warp + Weft’s jeans are sold online and all cost under $100.
Warp + Weft only sells jeans and shorts right now, but plans to add denim skirts, jackets, and jumpsuits.
Founders:Sarah Ahmed, Robert Wright, Eunice Ko, and Kathleen Clark
Pilot helps small businesses get internet access.
What it is: Pilot is an internet service provider aimed at startups. The company works by finding unused fiber optic cable, leasing it, and switching it on, offering inexpensive, high-speed internet to small businesses.
The startup operates in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston. Pilot says its services are now used at more than 1,000 offices.
The company was founded by Joseph Fasone, a high school dropout who joined WeWork as director of IT at age 16.
Founders: Joseph Fasone
Funding: $32.3 million from Box Group, Union Square Ventures, RRE Ventures, and others
Jopwell wants to help minorities land jobs in tech.
What it is: Jopwell is a job-hunting site dedicated to matching people from minority backgrounds (namely Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American) with great jobs and internships, particularly in tech.
Jopwell launched in 2015 and has high-profile companies on board. Microsoft, Airbnb, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Spotify all use the site, plus companies outside of tech, like Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, the NBA, Pfizer, and The New York Times.
Jopwell says it’s helped job hunters using its site make more than 15,000 connections with possible employers.
Founders: Ryan Williams and Porter Braswell
Funding:$11.75 million from Andreessen Horowitz, San Francisco 49ers, Magic Johnson Holdings, Valar Ventures, and others
Hungryroot is making healthy “crave-able” food.
What it is: Hungryroot launched with the mission to “make indulgence healthy” by serving up ready-to-cook products like carrot noodles and chickpea cookie dough.
But Hungryroot isn’t going after meal-kit companies like Blue Apron, or meal-delivery ones like Munchery. Instead, the company is going after “convenience food” like canned soup.
The startup began as a direct-to-consumer food business, but has since expanded to sell its products on the shelves of Whole Foods stores, and it offers its products through services like Fresh Direct and Amazon Fresh.
Founders: Ben McKean
Funding:$13.93 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Crosslink Capital, KarpReilly, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures
The Wing is a social club especially for women.
- The Wing
What it is: The Wing is a coworking space and social club exclusively for women. The club provides free workspace to members, but also offers speaking events, community volunteer opportunities, movie screenings, and happy hours – plus free blow-outs, showers on site, space to nap, a café, and a library. Members pay between $2,350 to $2,700 a year for access to these perks.
The club has 1,500 members and an 8,000-person waiting list for its two open locations (SoHo and the Flatiron District). It plans to launch two more spaces, one in Brooklyn and one in Washington, DC.
Founders: Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan
Funding:$10.4 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Beyers, New Enterprise Associates, BBG Ventures, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and others.