What an exciting time to take a look at the startup scene! With the tremendous impact the COVID-19 pandemic brought not only to our private lives but also the market, it's interesting to take a look at the fast growing companies' landscape. Industries such as travel and hospitality took a massive blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. On the other hand, e-commerce, e-learning and telemedicine solutions witnessed a substantial growth last year. One may wonder how the situation will evolve in the following months. We’ve come up with some predictions ourselves and prepared a list of 10 startups that are likely to flourish in 2021.
Current state of startups
2020 took us all by surprise. Many assumptions concerning the startup scene didn’t come true because of unpredictable circumstances. The economic shock we witnessed endangered decade-long progress. Despite the odds, however, many industries are thriving in this new environment, giving rise to innovative companies. As the global situation hasn’t yet come back to what we call “normal” (will it ever?), it’s likely the growing trend will continue in 2021 as well.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all started to strongly rely on remote solutions in our everyday lives. The world simply required a more digital way of purchasing goods and using various services. This is what gave a huge boost to telemedicine, fintech, e-learning, delivery or shopping applications. The digital shift, supported by Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence or Internet of Things, has also massively changed the international startup scene, giving way for cost optimization and more efficient solutions.
Despite the unusual circumstances, European VC investment actually reached record levels in the third quarter of 2020. A huge cash infusion, combined with technological revolution, enabled many small companies to spread their wings, improve their products and increase their reach. Here’s the list of startups that caught our attention in particular - we’re looking forward to watching them grow in 2021.
Opal app, source: Opal
With healthcare and self-care being hot topics at the moment, it’s no surprise that a wellbeing startup opens our listing. Opal is a French company that created a mobile app enabling users to take control of their phones and eliminate distractions, in order to focus on what’s truly important. It acts as your personal assistant, helping you develop better screen time habits and find a good balance between online and offline worlds. Mobile devices' usage has been increasing and impacting our lives dramatically in the last few years.
Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2016 to 2021 (in billions), source: Statista
This is why it’s important to switch our attention back to reality - this is where the Opal solution comes in. The application is currently available for iOS devices. Established only a few months back, Opal has already gained traction on the market and recently raised over $4 million in an investment round to further expand their activities.
Budbee app, source: Budbee
Another European startup, Budbee, has been revolutionizing home deliveries since 2015. Their flexible logistics service for e-commerce is already available in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, and can be used on Android or iOS. Users are provided with detailed tracking information and an instant chatting functionality, which ensure a seamless and smooth experience. Not only does Budbee care about top-notch delivery, but their business efforts are in line with sustainability principles. In fact, they’ve created green terminals and have been using fossil-free fuel to limit the environmental impact of their activities. Their unique business idea has already been recognized by investors - the team has recently received substantial Series C funding.
Brightly platform, source: Brightly
Speaking of eco-consciousness, it’s time to introduce Brightly - a US-based company standing behind a powerful discovery platform, inspiring people to live a more sustainable and ethical lifestyle. What’s worth noting is that their adventure began from a simple podcast which gradually reached a big audience, giving a solid foundation for fully-fledged software advocating sustainable living. Brightly provides its users with different types of sustainable lifestyle content, promoting products and brands that take care of our planet. It is also meant to connect and empower like-minded people. Changing the world through small steps with Brightly seems to be going at full speed, as the team has just raised $1 million to further encourage conscious consumerism.
Rosalyn app, source: Rosalyn
One It’s no surprise that the United States, being one of the most resilient startup ecosystems, has given rise to many noteworthy companies in recent years. In fact, hot startup hubs are not limited to San Francisco and New York areas anymore and Rosalyn comes as a perfect example. This Ohio-based assessment and proctoring company developed an AI-fueled, comprehensive testing and certification platform targeted at enterprises. It is a perfect combination of human engagement and the power of artificial intelligence, providing users with cutting-edge technology. Advanced mechanisms, such as speech detection, ID verification and recording software are able to prevent and detect any possible violation in order to ensure that the exam rules are respected by the students. The platform streamlines the process of issuing, maintaining and managing tests in various fields. It is also security-compliant and can be easily integrated with different Learning Management Systems (LMS). How was it possible to build an edtech solution of this kind? Feel free to listen to Noor Akbari, Rosalyn’s CEO, talking about the development process involving Merixstudio’s support.
accessiBe app, source: accessiBe
A fruitful startup hub has also recently emerged in Israel. Many of the companies are already backed up by investors, including accessiBe - the creators of a fully-automated and AI-powered solution dedicated to people with disabilities such as visual impairment. Their product scans and adjusts websites’ functioning to make them more accessible and user-friendly. Thanks to the accessiBe’s state-of-the-art software, services such as online shopping or digital entertainment are accessible to a broader audience. The company provides its users with two applications. One of them is an accessibility interface, responsible for UI adjustments in terms of colours and display, while the other is more focused on background processes, for example, keyboard navigation. accessiBe's efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, seeing that the company has just secured additional Series A funding to make further research and improvements.
Heroes solution, source: Heroes
Another noteworthy startup is Heroes, a UK-based company acquiring and operating outstanding brands. Their solution is dedicated to Amazon-driven brands from different sectors with a proven track record of winning products and positive reviews. Apart from that, the Heroes product targets these brands which focus their activities on growing sectors of economy. Founders are provided with an easy exit and can leave their company in competent hands. Once the purchase is finalized, the Heroes team use their infrastructure to scale businesses up and enable their growth. The whole process is seamless and straightforward to ensure the best user experience possible. The company has already raised substantial capital from leading investors to accelerate their growth - it was actually the biggest funding round a European startup received last year. Congratulations!
Quorso app, source: Quorso
Let’s stay on a British startup scene a bit longer. A London-based company, Quorso, has created a powerful retail management tool for stores, enabling them to analyse and visualize data. Thanks to the power of Artificial Intelligence, it helps find areas that need improvement and streamline work by pointing out priorities. Each store receives 3 daily Missions to boost sales, achieve key KPIs and ensure continuous progress. The solution can be easily integrated with your existing data management systems and cloud platforms, without disturbing the processes that are already in place. Quorso's product inspires companies to take small actions every day, improve processes and, as a result, drive higher revenue. In 2019 Quorso was recognized as one of the top 100 British startups and the team hasn't slowed down ever since.
Beekeeper app, source: Beekeeper
We all know how important real-time communication is in making your work more efficient. A Zurich-based startup, Beekeeper, has seen its potential and created an advanced mobile platform dedicated to frontline workers, enabling them to give and receive regular updates to better coordinate their activities. The app becomes an all-in-one tool and a single point of contact for all employees. It provides them with quick access to critical information and automates certain tasks, thus maximizing productivity. From an employer perspective, the platform offers in-depth data insights to track progress and engagement. The product is already in use globally and is available for both iOS and Android devices. Beekeeper has also secured a few rounds of funding in recent years, which has enabled the team to further invest in the product and expand its offering.
Neufund app, source: Neufund
In recent years, FinTech has been one of the sectors gaining the most traction on the market. One of the representatives of this sector business-wise is Neufund. The company’s mission is to make investing easy, flexible and accessible to everyone thanks to the power of blockchain. Their solutions enable innovative companies to connect with investors and raise capital needed to expand their activities. On the other hand, it also helps investors find the most impactful businesses that need support. Neufund closed last year with a bang, securing a Series A funding round to further develop their product and introduce updates to the platform. Recently, they’ve also been working on a mobile app for tokenized assets’ management.
Booksy app, source: Booksy
We decided to conclude our list with a startup from a local area that has already won the hearts of users all over the world! Booksy, which has recently received a Series C funding round, is a company behind the leading booking system for scheduling and managing appointments in the beauty and wellness industry. Despite lockdown restrictions which put beauty salons and hairdressers in a difficult position, the company’s strategic maneuvers let them stay in the game. The platform has already gained over 13 million active users, most of them located in the US, the UK and Poland. By using either a mobile app (available on both Android and iOS devices) or a web app, customers are able to find beauty and health services in their local area, book an appointment and make a payment - all of that 24/7. The company, sometimes called the Uber of beauty and wellness, has partnered with Facebook, Instagram, Google and Yelp in order to ensure a seamless and direct booking experience.
Watch the market and consult professionals
Obviously, the list above is not inclusive, as the global startup scene is evolving at a fast pace and many more incredible companies feed the market each day. Unpredictable external circumstances are also likely to impact the growth of early-stage startups. One thing is certain, though - their success will highly depend on addressing the problem or need of real users with the appropriate, state-of-the-art technology. The idea is already growing in your head but you’re not sure how to bring it to life?
Give your startup a head start and consult your plans with software professionals that will help you create a future-proof product.