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46 of the most promising startups of 2021, according to top VCs

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 08 Jun 2021

<p><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b661cdbee0fc0019d5aa59-1668/most promising startups 2021 2x1.png" border="0" alt="Li Jin, Hans Tung, Gabby Cazeau, and Mike Duboe on a purple background." data-mce-source="Courtesy of Li Jin; GGV Capital; Harlem Capital; Greylock Partners; Shayanne Gal/Insider" data-mce-caption="Li Jin, Hans Tung, Gabby Cazeau, and Mike Duboe."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p><em>Estimated total funding for each startup is based on reports from PitchBook unless otherwise specified.</em></p><h3>Alloy: an operating system for banks and fintechs</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60ba39aae459cb0018a2c31e-400-300/alloy-an-operating-system-for-banks-and-fintechs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://alloy.co/">Alloy</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Kais Khimji, Sequoia</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $57.5 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Alloy helps financial firms collect customer data from various sources so they can verify their identities and onboard faster. It keeps bad actors out of the financial system.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Investors are pouring money into <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/point72-ventures-future-fintech-disruption-infrastructure-fis-fiserv-broadridge-2020-6">companies</a> that streamline manual processes for banks, as many firms look to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/alloy-pitch-deck-40-million-series-b-banking-infrastructure-2020-9">upgrade</a> their aging technology infrastructure.</p><p>"The number of identity and verification data sources will only continue to explode. Alloy is becoming the single pane of glass to manage these data sources and customize KYC workflows to onboard any given customer segment quickly and safely," Khimji said, referring to "know your customer" processes.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Alpaca: an API for stock trading</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60b571d702ac410018f93a97-400-300/alpaca-an-api-for-stock-trading.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://alpaca.markets/">Alpaca</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Cindy Bi, CapitalX</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/15/alpaca-raises-10m-series-a-for-its-api-powered-equities-trading-service/">$22 million</a></p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Alpaca's products allow companies to add commission-free stock trading to their own products. Imagine if Stripe were a brokerage on top of being a payments-processing company.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Alpaca is growing quickly, recording "more than a couple of billion dollars" in stock transactions every month, Bi said. The company has persuaded some of the top minds in fintech to invest, including former C-suite executives at Square, Robinhood, and Coinbase.</p><p>The newest product &mdash; "long-awaited" by developers, Bi said &mdash; is a brokerage application programming interface, so developers can build brokerages into their apps. It lets customers open accounts and trade.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Bedrock Ocean: robotics mapping the ocean floor</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b7867dbee0fc0019d5aceb-400-300/bedrock-ocean-robotics-mapping-the-ocean-floor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.bedrockocean.com/">Bedrock Ocean</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Brad Svrluga, Primary Venture Partners</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $7.8 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Bedrock Ocean uses robotic submarines to map the ocean floor. The startup has been called the SpaceX of the ocean because of its pioneering work in the deep blue.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>The information the company collects has numerous applications. One of the most critical is planning for offshore wind farms, where windmills are built in the ocean, Svrluga said.</p><p>"This team, with backgrounds ranging from naval architecture to SpaceX, is building transformational technology that will enable gathering the essential data for building offshore wind at a fraction of the price &mdash; a major climate priority of the Biden administration," he said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Calm: a sleep and meditation app</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b7e7d602ac410018f93f09-400-300/calm-a-sleep-and-meditation-app.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.calm.com/">Calm</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Anis Uzzaman, Pegasus Tech Ventures; Hans Tung, GGV Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Uzzaman is an investor; Tung has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding: </strong>$191.2 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Calm is an app with a library of content to help its users relax and sleep, including guided meditations, audiobooks, and soothing sounds.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The pandemic shone a spotlight on wellness and mental health. Calm was already one of the biggest names in wellness tech, and it's poised to expand as the world emerges from pandemic lockdowns, Uzzaman said.</p><p>Before the start of the year, it scored a $2 billion valuation in its Series C round.</p><p>"Mental health is often overlooked yet is among the most important aspects of healthcare," Tung said.</p><p>"The impact it made on mental health is here to stay," Uzzaman added.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Cockroach Labs: software for managing cloud databases</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60b676d4bee0fc0019d5aae2-400-300/cockroach-labs-software-for-managing-cloud-databases.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.cockroachlabs.com/">Cockroach Labs</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $355.1 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Cockroach Labs is the maker of CockroachDB, a popular distributed database for building cloud applications that can survive anything.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> "Pretty simple: The world is moving to the cloud, and Cockroach made a cloud-scale SQL database," Seid said. "Simple to say, but very, very hard to do."</p><p>The startup took in $160 million in new funding from investors such as Altimeter Capital, GV, Benchmark, Index Ventures, and Tiger Global in January, doubling its valuation to $2 billion.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Cresta: artificial intelligence for call centers</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60ba39b393c6fa00195e5278-400-300/cresta-artificial-intelligence-for-call-centers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://cresta.com/">Cresta</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Kais Khimji, Sequoia; Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Khimji and Seid are both investors</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $77.1 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Cresta creates artificial-intelligence software that helps customer-service and sales agents improve their interactions with customers and boost their productivity.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Its founders include two Stanford Ph.D. dropouts &mdash; <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/google-history-in-photos-2015-10">sound familiar'</a> &mdash; and a robotics and computer-science legend. Zayd Enam and Tim Shi studied under Sebastian Thrun, who developed the technology for Google's self-driving car.</p><p>"We're entering a golden age for conversational AI, and the contact center is the ideal application for it," Khimji said.</p><p>"The technology was originally developed for sales and support functions that were done via chat messages. However, 2021 saw the launch and commercial deployment of the technology for voice calls as well," Seid said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Cribl: tools for organizing company data</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60afdbf302ac410018f93359-400-300/cribl-tools-for-organizing-company-data.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://cribl.io/">Cribl</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Derek Zanutto, CapitalG; Sam Fort, DFJ Growth</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Zanutto and Fort both have no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $46.4 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Cribl provides tools for companies to organize their data and route it to the proper place for storage or analysis.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Cribl is operating in a booming sector known as data observability. Its founders &mdash; Clint Sharp, Dritan Bitincka, and Ledion Bitincka &mdash; have ample industry cred. The three previously worked together at Splunk, a Big Data company that is now publicly listed.</p><p>"The tailwinds for growth in the observability space are immense," Zanutto said. "Cribl is one of the most exciting enterprise-software companies we have seen."</p><p>Cribl has become the "go-to solution" for companies "overwhelmed with the amount of machine data in their environment &mdash; between logs, metrics, traces, and more," Fort said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Dandy: a secret weapon for dental professionals</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b573d402ac410018f93a9a-400-300/dandy-a-secret-weapon-for-dental-professionals.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.meetdandy.com/">Dandy</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> David Beisel, NextView Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $4.3 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Dandy helps dental offices combine in-person visits and virtual care.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> People can buy dental services such as teeth aligners online without ever seeing a dentist. But they may sacrifice quality of care. Dandy wants to marry the best of both worlds.</p><p>"The company offers dentists something rare in their industry: a single, streamlined lab for items from crowns to dentures to aligners, replacing hours of management-by-paper relationship monitoring for each dental practice across a collection of regional boutique labs," Beisel said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Deel: a payroll service for global workforces</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60b573f802ac410018f93a9b-400-300/deel-a-payroll-service-for-global-workforces.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.letsdeel.com/">Deel</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> A.J. Solimine, 122 West Ventures; Itamar Novick, Life360</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Novick is an investor; Solimine has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $204.5 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Deel provides a service to make payroll and compliance easier for companies with employees in different countries.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Expanding internationally sounds exciting until it comes to details such as taxes and local laws. Deel strives to alleviate those issues.</p><p>Both VCs said the pandemic has encouraged companies to hire from anywhere, even abroad. "Deel is leading the charge to help onboard and manage your international workforce," Solimine said.</p><p>"COVID-19 was a significant catalyst," Novick said. "But the distributed-work movement has just begun, and Deel is in the driver's seat."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Dexterity: robotics for industrial automation</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b677b002ac410018f93c02-400-300/dexterity-robotics-for-industrial-automation.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://dexterity.ai/">Dexterity</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Grace Chou, Felicis Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $72.3 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Dexterity is building intelligent robots that can pick up objects and pack boxes for logistics and warehousing companies, which would allow employees to focus on higher-level tasks.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>Dexterity rocketed out of stealth mode last summer with $56.2 million in funding from top-tier investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Obvious Ventures.</p><p>"COVID has accelerated the pace of adoption for industrial robotics and automation, and Dexterity has reinvented every aspect of the robotic stack," Chou said. The company has "phenomenal speed of deployment and commercial traction" to boot, she added.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Dorian: an interactive storytelling platform</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b91cacbee0fc0019d5b2d9-400-300/dorian-an-interactive-storytelling-platform.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://dorian.live/">Dorian</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Li Jin, Atelier Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $5.4 million</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>Dorian lets creators build their own interactive stories and then provides them with analytics to better monetize.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>Dorian is a new addition to the booming creator economy &mdash; and a potentially lucrative one. The company <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/31/dorian-seed-funding/">told TechCrunch</a> that in tests of 50,000 players, writers were able to increase monetization by 70% after one or two iterations.</p><p>Jin said that readers and followers will love the improved creative content, too.</p><p>"For fans, Dorian has thoughtfully constructed a new form of social content consumption," she said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Dutchie: retail software for the cannabis industry</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60b6774d02ac410018f93c00-400-300/dutchie-retail-software-for-the-cannabis-industry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://dutchie.com/home">Dutchie</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Sam Fort, DFJ Growth</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $253 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Dutchie, in Bend, Oregon, uses software to connect cannabis consumers to local dispensaries. Retailers gain analytics to attract, target, and retain customers.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> In March, the company closed a <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/cannabis-tech-startup-dutchie-raises-200-million-tiger-global-dfj-2021-3">monster round</a> of $200 million in funding from Tiger Global, Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital, DFJ Growth, and others, boosting its valuation to $1.7 billion.</p><p>It also <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/16/dutchie-raises-200-million-in-funding-acquires-greenbits-leaflogix-.html">recently</a> acquired software developers LeafLogix and Greenbits.</p><p>"Dutchie is in a great position to be the leading consumer-facing platform for the high-growth legal cannabis market," Fort said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Finix: tools for building payments systems</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5e20c62bb6d52d4c4558ab08-400-300/finix-tools-for-building-payments-systems.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.finixpayments.com/">Finix</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Mike Duboe, Greylock Partners; Will Kohler, Lightspeed Venture Partners</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Duboe has no financial interest; Kohler is an investor</p><p><strong>Total funding: </strong>$97.5 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Finix's software allows companies to bring payment infrastructure in-house, rather than using services such as Square or Stripe.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> By bringing payments in-house, Finix helps companies reduce fees and make money from the transactions they process.</p><p>"I'm excited about Finix from the angle of B2B marketplaces," Duboe said. "The emergence of B2B marketplaces in many antiquated, fragmented verticals is one of the most exciting trends I'm paying attention to."</p><p>"Finix is the smartest way for businesses to own, manage, and monetize payments," Kohler said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Foundation: an NFT marketplace</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60afdd1802ac410018f93360-400-300/foundation-an-nft-marketplace.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://foundation.app/">Foundation</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $10 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Foundation is a curated platform for non-fungible tokens. Users buy and sell NFTs auction-style, with some pieces going for thousands of dollars.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> For a few months, it seemed like everyone was getting rich off NFTs. Over <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/13/nft-sales-top-2-billion-in-first-quarter-with-interest-from-newcomers.html">$2 billion worth</a> of NFTs &mdash; unique files minted on blockchain technology &mdash; were sold in the first quarter of this year, NonFungible.com reported. But as millions of NFTs were created, <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-are-risks-of-investing-in-nft-2021-3">experts became worried</a> about copyright issues, stolen images, and scams.</p><p>Foundation has maintained high-quality pieces by curating its market, becoming a go-to platform for notable NFTs such as the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/most-expensive-nft-list-top-selling-nfts-crypto-art-sales-2021-3">Nyan Cat</a> and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-times-sells-nft-crypto-art-for-600000-2021-3">a column</a> from The New York Times.</p><p>"As NFT markets become noisier and more bubbly, a flight to quality will drive more artists and collectors to Foundation this year," Morris said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Gatheround: virtual events for the remote workforce</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/60b577bd02ac410018f93a9e-400-300/gatheround-virtual-events-for-the-remote-workforce.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://gatheround.com/">Gatheround</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> James Cham, Bloomberg Beta</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $3.5 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Gatheround's app was built for a remote world. It brings coworkers together online through team building, happy hours, weekly reflections, and more.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The workforce may never be the same, even after offices reopen, so companies are using Gatheround to virtually build culture and strengthen teams.</p><p>"In an era of Zoom and other video-based collaboration, Gatheround built up a loyal customer base that's held over half a million conversations on the platform," Cham said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Instrumental: software for automating factory assembly lines</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b7e7d602ac410018f93f09-400-300/calm-a-sleep-and-meditation-app.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">Startup:</strong> <a href="https://instrumental.com/">Instrumental</a></p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">Recommended by:</strong> Anis Uzzaman, Pegasus Tech Ventures</p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">Relationship: </strong>No financial interest</p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">Total funding: </strong>$30.8 million</p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">What it does: </strong>Instrumental is building software that automates factory assembly lines, saving billions of dollars in scrap and rework costs.</p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold">Why it's on the list: </strong>"Founded by a former Apple lead product design manager and engineer, this company is in the right position at the right time to enable a greater shift toward complete virtual product development and manufacturing," Uzzaman said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Kiira Health: a digital women's clinic</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fa18fe91df1d50018218921-400-300/kiira-health-a-digital-womens-clinic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.kiira.io/kiira-membership'gclid=Cj0KCQjw--GFBhDeARIsACH_kdZPkhAFJoUJzaYxorD0uqPkK-6cIkvk_UC10kP4yqjeVpRFCSdpNccaAuUREALw_wcB">Kiira Health</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> Undisclosed</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Kiira Health is a virtual women's health clinic for college students.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> There's no shortage of telemedicine companies focused on remote patients, but few are thinking seriously about college-age women, Velissaris said.</p><p>Enter Kiira Health, which is bringing quality care to young women via <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/brittanychambers/2020/08/10/how-one-dynamic-duo-is-transforming-womens-health-on-college-campuses-during-covid-19/'sh=48007549417a">virtual clinics</a>.</p><p>"Healthcare is not one size fits all, and the approach that Kiira takes to help connect women to real and accurate information, and culturally competent care in various formats, can transform healthcare engagement for college women," Velissaris said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Loom: an alternative to long emails</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b91d43bee0fc0019d5b2de-400-300/loom-an-alternative-to-long-emails.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.loom.com/">Loom</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Eric Tarczynski, Contrary Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $198.2 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Loom is a video-messaging app that lets users record short videos instead of typing long emails or spending time in meetings.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Loom has taken off as more people seek tools to help get work done during the pandemic. It has more than <a href="https://www.loom.com/blog/loom-series-c">10 million users</a> at 120,000 companies, including Netflix, Atlassian, and Procter &amp; Gamble.</p><p>"It's an essential tool for remote teams and has experienced hockey-stick growth because of that," Tarczynski said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Mae: a digital service for Black women's maternal health</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60baafb3e459cb0018a2c5b7-400-300/mae-a-digital-service-for-black-womens-maternal-health.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://meetmae.com/aboutus">Mae</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Casey Santiago, Founders Factory; Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Santiago and Velissaris are both investors</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> N/A</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Mae is a digital service connecting Black expectant mothers with maternal care, such as doulas and birth-planning tools.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html">the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> reported. Mae, which launched in January, provides Black women with "culturally competent care," connecting them with experts who understand their unique healthcare struggles and can advocate for them.</p><p>"They are addressing a national crisis and huge need in the market for communities that have been overlooked," Velissaris said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Mantl: an account-opening solution for financial firms</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5fdb7cdcd366e60018098a09-400-300/mantl-an-account-opening-solution-for-financial-firms.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.mantl.com/">Mantl</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jesse Wedler, CapitalG</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $61 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Mantl is changing how legacy banks and credit unions create and open new accounts for customers, making the process entirely digital.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Smaller banks have been <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/regional-community-banks-digital-transformation-fintech-solutions-branches-deposits-2020-10">forced to evolve</a> in the wake of the pandemic, and fintechs such as Mantl are playing a critical role in their digital transformation, Wedler said.</p><p>"Catalyzed by COVID, every bank is looking for technology partners that can enable a fully digital experience," he said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Maro: a digital service for children's mental health</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60b91e8ebee0fc0019d5b2e4-400-300/maro-a-digital-service-for-childrens-mental-health.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.meetmaro.com/">Maro</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Casey Santiago, Founders Factory</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> Undisclosed</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Maro is an app providing mental-health resources to parents and children.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>Maro guided parents through a tumultuous year, creating modules for children that explained things such as anxiety and mindfulness.</p><p>"I am convinced it will keep our children healthier, happy, and safer, and help us as parents navigate this journey," Santiago said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Material Bank: a logistics startup disrupting the architecture industry</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5f52c54e7ed0ee001e25db26-400-300/material-bank-a-logistics-startup-disrupting-the-architecture-industry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.materialbank.com/statID=G_ADS'utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=CPC&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw--GFBhDeARIsACH_kdZzlYA9HCqg9sx4pqQcNYAf2s4fXTfY95oP5hDgDAwyABKgVC5CblQaAhJjEALw_wcB">Material Bank</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Mitchell Green, Lead Edge Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $148.8 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Material Bank is a marketplace for design materials that promises to ship design samples overnight from its Tennessee warehouse.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The startup, which has been described as the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/material-bank-bain-logistics-architecture-design-materials-amazon-2020-7">Amazon of design</a>, has a warehouse operated by robots next to FedEx's global shipping hub.</p><p>Material Bank recently raised $100 million from General Catalyst, Bain, and others to double down on growth.</p><p>"Ordering samples is a broken process, and Material Bank makes it vastly easier. As a result, users love it," said Green, calling the company a "market leader" in a large, new category.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Maven: online courses that build community</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60b91cacbee0fc0019d5b2d9-400-300/dorian-an-interactive-storytelling-platform.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://maven.com/">Maven</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Li Jin, Atelier Ventures; Rebecca Kaden, Union Square Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Jin is an investor; Kaden has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $24.3 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Maven works with creators to build and offer cohort-based, online classes.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Maven capitalizes on two major trends: online learning and the creator economy. The powerhouse firm Andreessen Horowitz took notice, leading the startup's $20 million Series A round.</p><p>Investors are joining as teachers: There are crypto classes from the bitcoin expert Anthony Pompliano and lessons on building a business from Sahil Lavingia, the CEO of Gumroad.</p><p>"By making digitally enabled peer-learning experiences more accessible for students and teachers alike, Maven is giving life to a new world of online learning," Jin said.</p><p>Maven is part of a trend in learning, "moving from discrete moments in time that happen largely in person to a much more fluid lens of learning throughout our lives in ways that are fun, social, and with purpose," Kaden said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Meroxa: a real-time data service</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b91ec9bee0fc0019d5b2e5-400-300/meroxa-a-real-time-data-service.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://meroxa.com/">Meroxa</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Gabby Cazeau, Harlem Capital; James Cham, Bloomberg Beta</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Cazeau and Cham both have no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $18.4 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Meroxa is a software that lets companies quickly and efficiently create data infrastructure.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Meroxa's website reassures users that it will handle "all the plumbing so you can worry about what matters." VCs are sold: The startup raised a $15 million <a href="https://www.prweb.com/releases/meroxa_launches_real_time_data_platform_as_a_service_announces_series_a_funding/prweb17861263.htm">Series A round</a> in April, with investment from Drive Capital, Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, and Index Ventures.</p><p>"Ultimately, developers want power, speed, and flexibility for their data infrastructure," Cazeau said. "Meroxa provides that and an exceptional user experience."</p><p>"Meroxa is a real-time data platform that gives data teams the tools they need to build real-time infrastructure in minutes," Cham said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Monte Carlo: tools for ensuring reliable data</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60afda93bee0fc0019d59fbc-400-300/monte-carlo-tools-for-ensuring-reliable-data.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.montecarlodata.com/">Monte Carlo</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Oren Yunger, GGV Capital; Cack Wilhelm, IVP; Patrick Chase, Redpoint Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Yunger and Chase are both investors; Wilhelm has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $41 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Monte Carlo monitors data for errors. It catches things such as inconsistencies, missing values, and old data.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Monte Carlo has <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/monte-carlo-announces-partnership-snowflake-150000203.html">an enviable client list</a>: Compass, PagerDuty, and, as of last month, the data-storage behemoth Snowflake. The startup <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/monte-carlo-announces-partnership-snowflake-150000203.html">has tripled in size</a> in the past six months alone.</p><p>Chase said that the number of data pipelines that need monitoring is "growing rapidly," making a product such as Monte Carlo more necessary than ever. Yunger praised it for solving "the costly problem of broken data."</p><p>Barr Moses is a cofounder and the CEO of Monte Carlo.</p><p>Wilhelm said, "Monte Carlo is another female-led company in what most would consider is a new market: data observability."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>MX: a way to streamline financial data</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60afdbf302ac410018f93359-400-300/cribl-tools-for-organizing-company-data.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.mx.com/">MX</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Derek Zanutto, CapitalG</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $451 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> MX gathers financial data from millions of customers to predict what users need most.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> MX is already a formidable force in the fintech world. It works with over 2,000 financial institutions and 43 of the top 50 digital banking providers, said <a href="https://news.crunchbase.com/news/providing-a-money-experience-mx-banks-on-300m-series-c/">Ryan Caldwell</a>, a cofounder. With a $1.9 billion valuation, the startup became a unicorn in January.</p><p>"Fintechs and financial institutions have described MX as truly transformative to their businesses," Zanutto said. "We believe that the sky is the limit to what MX can accomplish."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Parsec: screen-sharing tools for gamers and remote workers</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60b57f1a02ac410018f93aa0-400-300/parsec-screen-sharing-tools-for-gamers-and-remote-workers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://parsec.app/">Parsec</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> David Beisel, NextView Ventures; Brad Svrluga, Primary Venture Partners</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Beisel is an investor; Svrluga has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $34.2 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Parsec calls itself "the ultimate remote desktop." It provides high-quality screen-shares. The tool was originally designed for gamers to play together, but it's now widely used for remote work.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> When quarantine orders were issued across the country, Parsec quickly launched Teams, a screen-sharing tool.</p><p>Both Beisel and Svrluga praised the speedy "low latency" tech originally built for gaming. Both said they were impressed that Parsec was making millions in revenue after the creation of the Teams feature.</p><p>Andreessen Horowitz also noticed: It led the startup's $25 million Series B round in December, <a href="https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/parsec-2/company_financials">Crunchbase</a> reported.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Persona: the aspiring "identity layer of the internet"</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60b6765f02ac410018f93bfb-400-300/persona-the-aspiring-identity-layer-of-the-internet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://withpersona.com/">Persona</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Will Kohler, Lightspeed Venture Partners</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $67.6 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Persona is an all-in-one identity-infrastructure company. It helps businesses securely collect, verify, manage, and make decisions about customers' identities.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> In the past year, the company has increased its customer base by more than five times, adding clients such as Square, Robinhood, Udemy, Gusto, BlockFi, and AngelList.</p><p>"Fast-growing businesses across many sectors have a delightful experience while deploying identity solutions across numerous use cases," Kohler said. "You don't hear this often."</p><p>Persona plans to use the <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/hk-en/20210504005837/en/Persona-Secures-50M-in-Series-B-Funding-to-Become-the-Identity-Layer-of-the-Internet">recent</a> $50 million fundraise to double the size of its staff by year's end.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Pipe: a new way for startups to get funded</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60afdd8402ac410018f93364-400-300/pipe-a-new-way-for-startups-to-get-funded.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.pipe.com/">Pipe</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One Ventures; Cindy Bi, CapitalX</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Morris is an investor; Bi has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $316 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Pipe helps companies with recurring revenue get capital upfront. It connects these companies with partners who buy the companies' contracts at a discount, which allows startups to get immediate funding without giving up equity.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> When Pipe raised $50 million in March, Harry Hurst, a cofounder, <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/09/this-pipe-ing-hot-startup-just-raised-50m-to-be-the-nasdaq-for-revenue/">told TechCrunch</a> that it wasn't about the money; it was about the connections.</p><p>Pipe already has over 3,000 clients, <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pipe-raises-strategic-financing-round-from-shopify-slack-hubspot-okta-chamath-palihapitiya-marc-benioff-michael-dell-raptor-group-and-next47-to-give-companies-frictionless-access-to-financing-301243286.html">the startup</a> said, but this newest round brought companies such as Slack, Shopify, and Okta onto its cap table.</p><p>Pipe is "allowing companies to access financing without debt or dilution," Bi said.</p><p>Morris said, "They're now one degree of separation from millions of customers who can use the product and are poised for a breakout year."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Postscript: text messaging for Shopify stores</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5e20c62bb6d52d4c4558ab08-400-300/finix-tools-for-building-payments-systems.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.postscript.io/">Postscript</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Mike Duboe, Greylock Partners</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $51.9 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Built for Shopify stores, Postscript helps merchants keep in touch with their customers through text-message marketing, in order to drive new revenue.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The company has seen <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/postscript-raises-35m-to-fuel-the-future-of-customer-communication-via-sms-301239894.html">aggressive growth</a> in the past year, with Shopify stores sending hundreds of millions of text messages through its product and generating around $500 million in attributed revenue.</p><p>"Postscript takes a platform approach to expanding the surface area of what can be done with the SMS channel. It just recently launched 'Postscript Pay,' allowing consumers to purchase directly from SMS," said Duboe, a Postscript board member, referring to Short Message Service, a technical term for text messages.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Ramp: a corporate card and spend-management platform</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5fdb7cdcd366e60018098a09-400-300/mantl-an-account-opening-solution-for-financial-firms.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://ramp.com/">Ramp</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jesse Wedler, CapitalG; Eric Tarczynski, Contrary Capital; Delian Asparouhov, Founders Fund.</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Wedler has no financial interest; Tarczynski and Asparouhov are investors</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> <a href="https://ramp.com/blog/ramp-raises-115m-from-stripe-and-d1-to-become-nys-fastest-growing-startup-ever">$115 million</a></p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Ramp is a corporate credit card that competes with Brex and American Express to help companies save money on duplicate accounts or subscriptions.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>"Ramp is the 'second rodeo' for the founders and previously sold Paribus, another fintech company, to Capital One," Tarczynski said.</p><p>Wedler said it "helps companies save both time and money."<br /><br />Keith Rabois, a partner at Founders Fund, is also an <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ramp-startup-corporate-card-keith-rabois-brex-2020-2">investor</a> and Ramp board member.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Repeat: the tools to create repeat customers</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b91ec9bee0fc0019d5b2e5-400-300/meroxa-a-real-time-data-service.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.getrepeat.io/">Repeat</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Gabby Cazeau, Harlem Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> <a href="https://dot.la/repeat-customer-startup-2647019129.html">more than $1.5 million</a></p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>For companies that sell consumer packaged goods, Repeat's software helps turn onetime buyers into repeat customers by providing a seamless ordering experience.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The growth of online shopping during the pandemic is slowing down, which means merchants need to find "new and efficient ways to retain customers," Cazeau said. This has created demand for Repeat's products.</p><p>"We love that Repeat analyzes buyer behavior and helps brands know how to reach the right customer, at the right time, with the right products to drive engagement and purchase," Cazeau said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Retool: a fast way to build internal tools</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60bf92d2a7202d0018b8db8f-400-300/retool-a-fast-way-to-build-internal-tools.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://retool.com/'_keyword=retool&amp;adgroupid=77096230789&amp;utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=search&amp;utm_campaign=6470119914&amp;utm_term=retool&amp;utm_content=468870997840&amp;hsa_acc=7420316652&amp;hsa_cam=6470119914&amp;hsa_grp=77096230789&amp;hsa_ad=468870997840&amp;hsa_src=g&amp;hsa_tgt=kwd-395242915847&amp;hsa_kw=retool&amp;hsa_mt=e&amp;hsa_net=adwords&amp;hsa_ver=3&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw--GFBhDeARIsACH_kdZ_zl_1Cr21JViYVkEbfKzyISih8ip61MO3slcjVWYWKAaOlOJj5nUaAgC8EALw_wcB">Retool</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Patrick Chase, Redpoint Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $69.6 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Retool is a low-code product for building internal software tools quickly.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Last fall, the company cinched a $1 billion valuation less than four years after its founding, thanks to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-20/retool-nears-1-billion-valuation-with-funding-from-sequoia#:~:text=The%20San%20Francisco%2Dbased%20company,and%20John%20Collison%2C%20Brex%20Inc.">rising interest</a> in developer tools for nontechnical people.</p><p>"As an ex-engineer, building and maintaining internal tools is like going to the dentist. Everyone knows they have to do it, but they want it to be as quick and painless as possible," Chase said. "Retool helps engineers to build internal tools fast, which frees them up to work on the fun stuff."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Ruby Love: period apparel</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fa18fe91df1d50018218921-400-300/kiira-health-a-digital-womens-clinic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup: </strong><a href="https://www.rubylove.com/period-underwear'gclid=Cj0KCQjw--GFBhDeARIsACH_kdYbmsD1WEYN7B2KzUEzxeYEEhC1rn4iPm9qmj7--V5AEgyTeikJ2CAaAkp2EALw_wcB">Ruby Love</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Maria Velissaris, SteelSky Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> Undisclosed</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Ruby Love makes period underwear and swimwear that offers both absorption and protection against leaks and stains, so women can ditch disposable pads and tampons.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>The company raised an <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ruby-love-secures-investment-led-by-steelsky-ventures-301275087.html">undisclosed amount</a> of new funding in April, adding to the $15 million it <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/estrellajaramillo/2019/07/29/founder-bootstrapped-to-10-m-now-raises-series-a-to-disrupt-period-apparel/'sh=13063e796b0b">previously took in</a> from The Craftory, a venture-capital firm in London and San Francisco.</p><p>Ruby Love "has an opportunity to be a leader in the new category of period apparel and provide sustainable solutions in countries and communities that cannot access or afford menstrual products," Velissaris said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Sanity: a platform for building data-driven content</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5f52c54e7ed0ee001e25db26-400-300/material-bank-a-logistics-startup-disrupting-the-architecture-industry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup name: </strong><a href="https://www.sanity.io/">Sanity</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Mitchell Green, Lead Edge Capital; Josh Stein, Threshold Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Green has no financial interest; Stein is an investor</p><p><strong>Total funding: </strong>$9.3 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Sanity is a management platform that helps businesses build data-driven content.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>Sanity is already used by National Geographic, Figma, and Nike.</p><p>"Sanity goes beyond the traditional CMS and allows you to build modern digital experiences," Green said.</p><p>Stein added that it's "designed for delivering structured content to products and devices."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Shelf Engine: tools to help grocery stores reduce waste</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fdbe6f2d366e60018098ce8-400-300/shelf-engine-tools-to-help-grocery-stores-reduce-waste.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup name:</strong> <a href="https://www.shelfengine.com/'source=google-brand&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw2NyFBhDoARIsAMtHtZ6Id3cauNathhmmRFvm_B_QTNBnERPLmDOMAdRNXxWET-KhwqF812waAnZ0EALw_wcB">Shelf Engine</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Hans Tung, GGV Capital; Garry Tan, Initialized Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Tung and Tan are both investors</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $53.9 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Shelf Engine uses automation to reduce food waste.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>"The grocery industry is on the precipice of monumental change, with few companies driving the same level of innovation as Shelf Engine," Tung said.</p><p>"They've saved more than 1 million pounds of perishable food from waste since founding, and they're just getting started," Tan said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Solana: a blockchain platform</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60492b07f196be0018beeab9-400-300/solana-a-blockchain-platform.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup name:</strong> <a href="https://solana.com/">Solana</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Garry Tan, Initialized Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding: </strong>$60.1 million</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>Solana is a blockchain that enables smart contracts and decentralized finance.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Solana is attracting "next-level crypto developers" to build on its platform, Tan said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Soona: virtual photo shoots for brands</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60b582cc02ac410018f93aab-400-300/soona-virtual-photo-shoots-for-brands.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://soona.co/">Soona</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Rebecca Kaden, Union Square Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $15.7 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Soona offers photo and video services for companies and lets them direct shoots from a remote location.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> The shift to digital means companies have to spiff up their online presence, but professional-looking content can be costly.</p><p>Soona not only makes the process more efficient but also provides insight into what types of photos and videos perform best, Kaden said. It gives the startup a "data-driven superpower," she added.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Sprout Therapy: in-home autism care</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b677b002ac410018f93c02-400-300/dexterity-robotics-for-industrial-automation.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup name:</strong> <a href="https://www.joinsprouttherapy.com/">Sprout Therapy</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Grace Chou, Felicis Ventures; Stuart Ellman, RRE Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship: </strong>Chou is an investor; Ellman has no financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding: </strong>$34.2 million</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>Sprout Therapy provides tech-enabled in-home autism care.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list: </strong>"In the US, there are over 1.5 million children with autism," Chou said, and on average, it takes families 18 to 36 months to put their children into care today."</p><p>Ellman praised the company as a "great idea."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Staircase: an API for the mortgage industry</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/604a3ca69942cf001865dcb0-400-300/staircase-an-api-for-the-mortgage-industry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.staircase.co/">Staircase</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Stuart Ellman, RRE Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> Investor</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $22.9 million</p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Staircase works with mortgage companies to reduce the cost and time it takes to buy a home using software. The company has been described as Plaid for real-estate lenders.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Staircase is at the intersection of two categories that took off during the pandemic: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/proptech-startups-the-hottest-real-estate-and-construction-tech-companies-2021-3">proptech</a> and fintech. The company is growing its team with a new $18 million in funding from undisclosed investors.</p><p>"Huge market, huge need, great team," said Ellman, who is on the board.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Step: banking products for teens</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60b676a402ac410018f93bfc-400-300/step-banking-products-for-teens.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://step.com/'gclid=Cj0KCQjw--GFBhDeARIsACH_kdZY7wWrPOtl6lhbncX-vKDM1zle05_ARvsR_vpcXwvaJmgVR51XWdQaApIrEALw_wcB">Step</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Jake Seid, Stone Bridge Ventures</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/27/teen-banking-service-step-raises-100m-series-c-announces-steph-currys-investment/#:~:text=Through%20Step's%20app%2C%20teens%20gain,for%20sending%20money%20to%20friends.">$175 million</a></p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Step is a digital bank for teenagers that offers secured credit cards and an app.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Step is putting teens on the path to financial independence with a Visa-powered secured credit card that they can use via a card and mobile wallets.</p><p>The company is <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/step-no-fee-digital-bank-teens-launches-charli-damelio-tiktok-2020-9">working with</a> &mdash; and raising money from &mdash; influencers such as TikTok megastar Charli D'Amelio, Steph Curry, The Chainsmokers, and Will Smith to spread the word about the app.</p><p>Step is experiencing fast growth and has attracted a lot of VC investment because it teaches kids about money "with an incredible consumer experience," Seid said.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Traceable: protection from cyberattacks</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5ec2e65bf34d05093304624f-400-300/traceable-protection-from-cyberattacks.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Startup:</strong> <a href="https://www.traceable.ai/">Traceable</a></p><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> Oren Yunger, GGV Capital</p><p><strong>Relationship:</strong> No financial interest</p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $20 million</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>Traceable is a cybersecurity startup that helps companies ensure that the application programming interfaces
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