Courtney Boyd Myers and Erica Berger are the founders of 3460 Miles, a bi-weekly newsletter that connects the New York and London tech, design, and social good communities. Sign up for their newsletter and find them on Twitter and Facebook.
New York City is chock full of startups shaking up industries, creating new businesses and models, and helping to reinvigorate the economy. Major players like Gilt, Meetup, Tumblr, Foursquare, Fab, Shutterstock and Etsy have made the news headlines over the last few years but what about the startups gaining traction and worth your keen eye now and in the next year?
Here’s our list of 50 NYC startup companies to watch (in no particular order), ranging in industry from news and content, to education, analytics, e-commerce, design, to food, hardware, and even to health. We’re excited about these companies unique products, fervor for building, awesome teams, and their visions for a different world.
Hyperbolic? Maybe. But we love NYC tech and startups, and these are some of the coolest new companies and most innovative ideas that keep us excited about the industry.
If you’re a startup on this list, why not come to The Next Web Conference USA, on October 1-2, in New York City?
1) Grand St.
Grand St. is a curated marketplace of creative and innovative technologies founded by Aaron Henshaw, Joe Lallouz, and Amanda Peyton. Grand St. stands out for hand picking, testing, and highlighting well-designed hardware from independent producers. Additionally, the Android app features one new selection every other day and provides a “Why We Love It” section for each item.
Built by and for the digital age, Refinery29 is an editorial platform covering fashion trends and lifestyle like city guides to date night outfits and current events and music suggestions.
With an enviable roster of advertisers, over 10 million visitors per month and over 1.25 million subscribers, it’s only a matter of time before Refinery29 supersedes the well-known media publications of midtown Manhattan.
Started a little over a year ago by two smart gents from MoveOn.org and The Onion, Upworthy is a mission-driven media organization making content that matters go viral. They deem their content “…sensational and substantial. Entertaining and enlightening. Shocking and significant.”
Focused on empowering the social share to spread content that should impact the way we live our lives, it’s no wonder they’ve got grown a massive audience on Facebook and boast better metrics than most traditional media companies. Onward and upworthy!
This Betaworks-backed blog aggregator recently launched a Tumblr-meets-Pinterest style redesign for its 5 million active users, 90% of which are female. The site is “like Digg for chicks” in the post-Google Reader era. CEO Mattias Swenson started the company in his garage in Sweden before moving to New York City for investment and engineering talent.
Need a little help with menial tasks on the Internet? Look no further than FancyHands, a company that offers a large roster of virtual assistants who can handle tasks that take 15 minutes or less. The service costs $25 per month at the minimum end, edging closer to the $100 mark for unlimited task requests. Once you live life with a virtual assistant, you’ll never go back.
6) The Muse
Founded in 2011 by three women who were frustrated with Monster.com and looking for a way to take the agony out of career development, the Muse is a career discovery platform that has helped 2 million plus people answer the question, “What do I want to do with my life?”
The Muse works with companies ranging from Dell and Sephora to Airbnb, Warby Parker and Foursquare to help connect them with amazing candidates, via interactive photo and video hiring profiles. This year, The Muse launched its first online education program.
➤ The Muse
Helping you discover beauty products you’ll love, Birchbox is a subscription service for women and men that delivers beauty, lifestyle, home and food products to your mailbox monthly. With a handful of delightful samples wrapped up in shiny boxes, Birchbox is a particularly great present to buy your frequent traveler friend.
The company, founded by two Harvard Business School grads acquired the UK and Paris-based Joliebox this year as part of its expansion plan across the pond.
With proprietary technology powering its real-time information discovery engine, Dataminr’s easy to read analytics make sense of the noise of social media for clients in government and financial services. As one of Twitter’s few preferred partners, with access to their firehose and more, Dataminr is enabling enterprise clients to make data-driven decisions quickly and effectively.
Started by two friends, a Republican and a Democrat, PolicyMic is “the first democratic online news platform to engage millennials in debates around real issues.” User-generated content and thought-leaders fill the site each day, organized by upvotes by the PolicyMic community, debating news and politics issues that matter most to millennials.
PolicyMic’s traffic has grown impressively in the last few years, maybe because it believes in “amplifying unknown voices,” and it is an inspiration to new media and old alike.
Often referred to as “the media company for the social age,” BuzzFeed has been at the forefront of online engagement and branded content under the leadership of CEO Jonah Peretti. This August, Peretti announced that the company posted record profits, while a NewsWhip study reported that the publisher had racked up 15.9 million Facebook likes, comments and shares across its content in the same month.
One of our favorite BuzzFeed posts this year? 25 Dead Giveaways That You’re an American Tourist in London.
Founded just under four years ago, WeWork has grown to occupy ten buildings with 3,500 members. The shared office and community-based company provides boutique office space, coworking and unique services to the startup community of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Its people, workspace and technology are all dedicated to inspiring creativity, productivity and innovation. Rapidly expanding in the US, this is a coworking company to watch.
Launched in 2010, Artsy is an online platform to discover the world’s art, featuring work from leading galleries, museums and private collections around the world. This month, Artsy announced the launch of the Artsy App for iPhone and iPod touch, furthering its mission to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
Fueled is a New York and London based design and development company. This charismatic agency is loved by brands and startups alike, creating visually stunning iPhone and iPad apps for brands like Barney’s, Coca Cola, UrbanDaddy, JackThreads and MTV.
In 2013, to strengthen its connection to startup culture, Fueled launched the Fueled Collective, a shared working space for 25 of New York’s most innovative startups, which Business Insider called “The Coolest NYC Office We’ve Ever Seen.”
Fueled is a member of audience.io, a sister company of 3460 miles, which is founded by Courtney Boyd Myers, co-author of this article.
This social front page company has grown steadily in the last year, and has recently introduced a native advertising technology. Its founder, Paul Berry, was the CTO of The Huffington Post, and was one of our 50 People You Need to Meet In NYC Startups!
New York City is all about digital collaboration, making Kickstarter, a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers, the creative darling of NYC tech.
It’s not only an incredible startup in its own right but it has the unique ability to spawn other startups. Founded in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler, the site is one of the coolest growing businesses in New York City. The crowdfunding platform recently announced plans to expand into Australia and New Zealand “soon”.
Founded to help drive deeper, more intelligent conversations online, Branch, which has recently launched Potluck, is meant to become the conversational “house party” of the Internet. Backed by the folks behind Twitter and Medium, the site encourages users to share links of relevant content and tag friends with whom they’d like to discuss an article.
Leading the “visual ecommerce” space, Olapic works with brands like NastyGal, New Balance and Threadless to turn Instagram and other social platforms into an ecommerce inspiration engine.
Olapic repurposes user generated content from Instagram on a brand’s site to increase conversion at the point of sale, essentially helping brands monetize the “selfie”. Brands typically see increased conversion rates of 5%+.
Recently launched in NYC, Oyster is applying the Netflix model to books and literature. With over 100,000 titles already in its library, and the reasonable cost of $9.95/month for unlimited reading, there’s very little to say beyond get reading already!
NewsCred is the world’s leading content marketing and syndication platform, helping news organizations and brands better monetize content. This year, the company secured a strategic partnership with Digital First Media, to scale new content verticals for the publishing group.
Additionally, dozens of brands, including Proctor & Gamble, General Mills, The Hearst Corporation, CapGemini, and Visa have also turned to them as the content marketing platform of choice for increasing social traffic, leads and revenue. NewsCred’s London launch is on the horizon.
General Assembly is a global network of campuses for technology, business, and design that offers a wide variety of learning opportunities, from 90-minute classes to 16-week long intensive coding programs.
From members (startups like The Muse and ElectNext) and instructors to knowledge-seekers and partners (including American Express, General Electric, Viacom, IDEO), GA’s community defines what they are: collaborative learning advocates, forward-thinking envelope-pushers, and as they like to call out–capri-pant enthusiasts. With locations in NYC, London, Toronto, Sydney, Berlin, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco… GA is one of New York City’s most global startups.
21) Rap Genius
Originally launched to create a database of annotations for rap lyrics, Rap Genius has now grown its engaged community and site to include more than just rap. NewsGenius recently launched to help make sense of the news, and the site has already housed annotations for rock and poetry. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it may just be the hippest crowd-sourced annotations site on the Internet.
Picturelife is the simplest way to backup your entire photo and video library to the cloud. With iPhoto no longer eating up 65GB on your hard drive, it’s no surprise that Picturelife’s userbase is growing steadily and the product is rapidly improving.
23) The Atavist
One of the most creative and inventive media startups in NYC, The Atavist’s purpose is to “enable the next generation of multimedia storytelling, reaching readers across mobile devices and the Web.”
Launched in 2007 by a couple of gents frustrated with their clothing options for biking to work, Bonobos is now the largest apparel brand built completely on the web in the US. Focused on great fit without sacrificing style, the menswear brand is all about pleasing its customers. With a recent partnership with Nordstrom, the fun brand is now available in retail stores.
Cameo is a mobile video app and network for iOS, allowing users to seamlessly create beautiful short films on their own or with friends. The company’s proprietary cloud-based technology powers the app, allowing Cameos to be more polished and built significantly faster than if they were rendered on a device. Shoot a video, add music and effects, and voila! You’ve got your Cameo.
Adaptly helps brands engage with, attract and retain customers through the intelligent use of each unique social network. Want to do a social ad buy but don’t want to deal with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more separately? Then look no further. Launched in NYC in 2010 through the DreamIt ventures program, the team and product has grown steadily since with international offices in London, UK.
27) Warby Parker
1 in every 3 tech scene kids in New York City is currently wearing Warby Parkers. OK, we made that up. But we’re probably not that far off. Loved by all, Warby Parker is disrupting the eyeglass market by providing affordable and fashionable eyewear through their e-commerce portal, flagship stores and select boutiques.
What makes them so special though? For each pair bought, their partnership with VisionSpring allows one of the one billion around the world in need of glasses to receive a pair for free.
Quartz, fondly known as QZ, is the mobile-first international business publication from The Atlantic Media Group. With kitschy topics (called Obsessions) including “Energy Shocks,” “The Cloud,” and “How We Buy,” their fresh take on business news is web and future friendly. And with staff coming from WSJ and The Economist, their editorial chops can compete.
As part of the $50 billion wedding industry, Lover.ly modernizes wedding planning, from a massive folder stuffed with magazine clippings to a handy and social digital version allowing brides to browse by color and share their favorite ideas. Its latest addition is the “Trending” tab that allows users the ability to see what is trending in the wedding world in real-time.
Built for the busy New Yorker, WunWun is an on-demand delivery service that launched earlier this year. The name stands for “what you need, when you need it”, and now, WunWun is doing free delivery from any store in Manhattan.
WunWun is all about experience and the personal relationship that WunWun helpers create with users — once you place an order, your very own helper will text you and keep you updated on their progress, even sending you pictures or videos of your options.
Started in 2007, ZocDoc is a free web service enabling patients to discover a nearby doctor or dentist who accepts their insurance, check their appointment availability, and then schedule an appointment. Need to see a doctor quickly but don’t want to be put on hold by the office secretary, ZocDoc is undoubtedly the best place to look.
Founded in 2011 by Nicholas Thorne, Henrik Werdelin and Kjartan Olafsson, Basno is a platform for people and companies to create and collect digital badges for accomplishments, skills, commitments and expertise. Basno recently released The Accredited Investor Badge in light of the new SEC regulations, allowing investors the chance to easily advertise their accreditation.
Founded in the spring 2012, Classtivity is an online platform that helps you find classes that you’ll love. Users have the option to “live the sweaty life” with the monthly subscription service, the ClassPass, or start out with the Passport, a discovery pass that’ll help you explore hundreds of different classes in your city.
Sailthru is a leading provider of personalized, data-driven marketing communications technology. Sailthru’s helps brands develop consumer relationships that drive higher revenue and conversion. They’re hiring in a big way, planning to nearly double in staff again in 2013, with London expansion in action.
Known as the top NoSql database (a code and data language), we love it for its open source nature and for the community it has developed. In the era of big data, MongoDB reinvents data management and enabling agile, scalable development of some of the apps and products you know and love.
Less than two weeks ago, SHADOW launched on Kickstarter and in just 10 days completed its $50,000 funding goal. It plans to build the world’s largest dream database through an app that helps you record and remember your dreams.
Zady is an onilne destination for consumers who care about the origins of their purchases. On Zady, customers can browse beautifully-constructed fashion items that were created with craftsmanship and artisanship – qualities that have been sacrificed in a world of cheap prices and fast production.
5% of proceeds go to their nonprofit partner The Bootstrap Project. Launched just weeks ago in NYC by two best friends, Zady is trailblazing the way for conscious consumerism.
One part indie rock record label (who discovered MGMT way back when), and one part music tech collider, Cantora’s three founders Jesse, Nick, and Will are leading NYC’s music industry into the future. Whether discovering the best new acts, curating engaging and unique events, or partnering with some of the most innovative music technology companies, Cantora’ finger on the pulse approach is fresh, real and smart.
39) VOX Media
Started as a sports media property called SBNation, now VOX, has turned into an Internet media powerhouse, launching technology website The Verge, and gaming site Polygon. With its deep focus on talented voices, engaged and passionate audience, and groundbreaking yet beautiful technology to power its sites and community, VOX is positioned to continue trailblazing the future of web journalism.
Why should you only feel inspired when inside the confines of your studio, full of all the materials you need to create? KLINE is a new analog sketchbook and journal that features multiple paper types– vellum, stock, and/or watercolor paper co-layered into a single hardbound cotton covered book.
Recently launched via Kickstarter (and having achieved its goal in exactly 7 days!), their unique lineup of layered sketchbooks and journals are designed to raise your creative potential for the 21st century. Added bonus? The acid free paper, renewable cotton covers, and kitschy color options.
Co-author of this article, Erica Berger helped KLINE run its Kickstarter and has helped it with social since the successful campaign.
Launched in late 2011, Barkbox is a monthly subscription service of essentials for man’s best friend; “the Birchbox for dogs,” if you will. But with 80,000 subscribers and a customer retention rate steady at over 90% for the past 12 months, Barkbox has found the sweetest customer base in the subscription ecommerce market.
With a revenue run rate of $25 million, BarkBox launched two new products this year including BarkCare — 24/7 health and wellness care for dogs and BarkPost, a blog of the best dog content on the Internet.
Founded in 2012 by 2 ex-Googlers based in Brooklyn, NY, Makeably brings together people with ideas like makers, designers, and artists who can bring these ideas to life. A marketplace for the maker generation, Makeably is solving the problem of makers’ unused creative capacity by allowing buyers to easily remix every product they see on the site to make it their own.
From turning books into stereos to creating profiles for various makers, Makeably’s marketplace is another great example of DIY on the web.
Trying to craft a gourmet meal in less than 30 minutes? This is exactly what Plated helps you do. Each week, the team updates and adds new recipes and shops for the food. You choose the recipe, they deliver the ingredients. In other words, it’s any busy or cooking-troubled New Yorker’s dream come true.
Skillshare is a global community and marketplace where you can learn real-world skills from brilliant teachers, online, anywhere, anytime. Launched in NYC a few years ago to disrupt education and encourage more skill-based learning, Skillshare has empowered creators, teachers, and learners around the globe to teach and be taught.
As social media becomes a more important channel to reach consumers, Percolate helps brands create content at scale. Percolate’s intelligent software design helps brands move through all aspects of efficient content creation – from inspiration and asset management to publishing and optimization.
Founded in 2011, the startup has grown to over 60 employees, boasting 95% client retention in the first half of 2013. Watch for their international expansion in London soon.
Betterment is a goal-based online investment company delivering smart, personalized financial advice paired with low fees and a superb customer experience. Since its launch in 2010, the company has accumulated $135 million in assets under management — no small feat for a team of just 25.
In a time when content is king, Contently is a marketplace that connects experienced journalists with publishers and brands looking for quality freelancers. Contently offers a suite of online tools for freelancer management, content scheduling and revision tracking. The team, headed up by journalist turned entrepreneur Shane Snow are changing the game in branded content and for freelance journalists alike.
Democratizing financial planning and financial education, LearnVest has been growing steadily since its beginnings. Go to the site for expert advice, lifestyle tips, the latest news and more. The best part? Much of the amazing content is free. And if you do get to the point where you’d like to connect with one of their advisors, the plans are affordable and impactful.
49) Of a Kind
Combining storytelling with ecommerce, Of a Kind promotes emerging fashion designers from around the U.S. through weekly emails and a gorgeous website. Every item sold on the site is limited-edition and designed exclusively for Of a Kind.
With dynamic content about the trials and tribulations of dating, and having recently launched a dating site to keep the romance alive for couples, HowAboutWe’s market smarts and simple system make it a winner in the NYC online dating market.
You’ve made it to the end! Well, it’s not really the end then…these are just some of the amazing companies that are being “Made in NY” right now. If we’ve sparked your interest, dive into the NYC.gov program and discover how many companies are hiring, then come and join us in one of the best places to build your company and team in the whole world!
Tickets for The Next Web Conference USA 2013 are available now.
Header image: John Moore/Getty Images