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This article was published on January 3, 2013

13 Promising East Coast tech startups to watch in 2013

13 Promising East Coast tech startups to watch in 2013
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

Despite being thousands of miles away from the Valley, East Coast startup hubs such as New York and Boston continue to grow in size, churning out promising companies left and right.

Now, we’ve created a collection of 13 East Coast-based companies to look out for in 2013. These startups are still in their early stages of development, but have shown enough promise in 2012 to warrant a strong year ahead.

Take a look at some of our favorites below, and then be sure to let us know any about other startups you’re eyeing in the comments.


At its core, Backspaces is an iPhone app for tellings stories using just photos and text. It’s largely as simple as it sounds, but somehow, despite my hatred for most photo-sharing solutions, Backspaces has become a go-to app for many. This is especially true when it comes to an important act traditionally ignored by the social media world: reflection.

We were the first to highlight Backspaces upon its launch in August 2012 (I snagged the username “H“), and we’re watching closely as the service continues to grow. Check it out via the link below and keep on the lookout for interesting updates.

➤ Backspaces for iPhone

Grand St.

As online shopping trends continue to shift, curation and discovery are becoming key selling points for ecommerce companies. Startups like Fab have proven the value of taste-making shopping services, and Grand St.’s new, tech-focused shop — which is currently limited to 5 (often exclusive) products at a time — adds a curious touch of storytelling into the mix.

Grand St. is currently operating in private beta, but 200 TNW readers can sign up now via this link.

➤ Grand St.


If there’s anything that gets a geek excited, it’s free WiFi.

Now, thanks to TechStars alum Karma, you can earn free data by sharing your hotspot with others around you. Karma calls this idea “social bandwidth,” and it’s what makes this emerging Internet provider special.

As we said after using the device ourselves, “upon connecting to your hotspot for the first time, two curious things happen: first, the device’s network takes on your name (e.g.: “Harrison’s Karma”), second, that network refuses to be password-protected, because when a stranger, friend or even a lover connects to your Karma device, you’ll both earn 100MB of free data.” Read our full review here.

➤ Karma

Rap Genius / Genius Media Group

Over the past year, Rap Genius has made a strong name for itself by helping fans and artists to share interpretations and definitions of rap lyrics. Along the way, everything from various other genres of music like rock to Biblical texts have made their way onto the service.

Now, keep on the look out for mass expansion, as Genius Media Group launches new services for verticals beyond music (poetry, law, etc) — the result of a recent $15 Million funding round led by Marc Andreessen.

➤ Rap Genius


If fiscal punishment sounds like a motivator to you, you’re going to love GymPact. The service, which launched out of TechStars Boston last year, lets you put cash on the line as a motivator for going to the gym.

First, GymPact users make a commitment to work out, then they must set how much cash they’re willing to risk. If you miss your workout, you’ll lose your cash, but if you go, you’ll actually earn money for meeting your goal, paid for by non-exercisers. Update: GymPact participated in TechStars Boston, but has decided to set up shop on the West Coast.

➤ GymPact on iOS and Android


After securing its first partnership with the New York Department of Education and raising $1 million, Neverware provides schools with an inexpensive way to upgrade their old, aging computers by handing heavy tasks off to a server.

As declining school budgets across the US continue to make investments in modern computing difficult and/or impossible, Neverware is uniquely positioned to dominate the education tech space.



Moat provides a free search engine for display advertising and an ad-focused analytics service for brand marketers. The startup enters interesting territory with its analytics offering, providing insight for when ads are in view and how potential customers interact with them.

➤ Moat

More Worth Watching

We chose the above companies because we believe they’ll make a particularly strong splash in 2013, but there are many other East Coast-based startups worth mentioning.

To avoid being too verbose, other favorites of ours include Shelby, a video-focused TechStars NY alum which won an award at TNW Conference and is currently operating in private beta; Betterific, a DreamIT Ventures Philadelphia alum dedicated to helping you share ideas for making products and companies better; Loverly, a site which lets you discover and save wedding ideas; SpaceSplitter, a growing suite of services that take the pain out of having a roommate; Cater Cow, an Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator alum focused on taking over the food catering industry; and Voice Bunny, which wants to make professional voice overs affordable by way of crowdsouricing.

In addition, more established players like Aviary and Hopstop also appear to have a very impressive year ahead of themselves, as both show no signs of slowing down after periods of significant growth. Aviary recently inked a major deal to provide filters for Twitter, after already teaming up with Flickr and hundreds of other app developers. Hopstop, on the other hand, has heavily benefited from Apple’s disappointing Maps app.

In short, there clearly are plenty of impressive early stage companies on the East Coast, many of which are only just beginning to surface. As always, we’ll keep searching for the best and brightest, and will be sure to send them your way if we think they’ll deliver.

Image credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

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