54 tech startups to bet your career on in 2021

  • It's a good time to go work for a tech startup.
  • We compiled a list of the rising companies where we think you'd be smart to take a job in 2021.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Startups were told to "brace for turbulence" in the spring when the pandemic hit, and yet, many landed safely on the other side.

Tech companies found new ways of working. They raised venture funding even when they didn't need it to survive. They made big hires and even bigger acquisitions. And their investors just kept raising mega-funds to disperse.

There's always some risk in taking a job at a startup, but we think now may be the best time ever to make the leap.

For this list, we chose "growth" startups, which we've defined as ones that have a private valuation of less than $1 billion and have fewer than 500 employees. Our goal was to spotlight companies where new hires can have an outsize impact.

We looked at a broad range of attributes including the strength of the founding team; the investors and their caliber; valuations, recent and total funding (rounded to the nearest million); and the product or service the startup offers. This year, we also paid close attention to how the business was affected by the pandemic shutdowns. While this list focuses on enterprise and consumer tech startups, you can find our healthcare startup picks here.

These are the tech startups we think you'd be smart to work for in 2021, listed alphabetically.

Appify

City: Campbell, California

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $11 million

Valuation: $37 million

What it does: Appify is a platform that allows people to develop apps for their companies without having to write code.

Why it's a good bet: Appify, formerly known as Turbo Systems, announced $3.45 million in Series A extension funding in July. Its CEO Jen Grant was formerly the CMO of Looker, which has since been acquired by Google Cloud. Its no-code software is also part of a larger trend of businesses increasingly needing to allow anyone to build the custom apps they need for their work.

Arcus

City: New York

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: $19 million

Valuation: $75 million

What it does: Arcus makes it easy for businesses to embed fintech features into their own apps and websites by providing payments, digital wallet, and other financial services.

Why it's a good bet: The fintech startup Arcus simplifies the ability of companies to offer financial data and bill payments for consumers. Already, it's won over customers like Walmart, 7-Eleven, and Santander Bank. Arcus launched in the hot Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator, and it raised two rounds this year. It's now backed by firms like IGNIA, Andreessen Horowitz, Winklevoss Capital Management, HOF Capital, and Y Combinator.

Ayar Labs

City: Santa Clara, California

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $65.5 million

Valuation: $170 million

What it does: Ayar Labs offers an optical chip for applications that need high bandwidth and low latency.

Why it's a good bet: Just November, Ayar Labs raised $35 million from investors led by Downing Ventures and BlueSky Capital. While companies like Intel have long dominated the chip landscape, the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence has sparked the need for even more powerful and efficient processors – and Ayar Labs is taking on that challenge head-on. It uses light to transmit massive amounts of data from chip to chip faster than through traditional methods.

BlockFi

City: Jersey City, New Jersey

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $154 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: BlockFi allows users to manage their crypto assets, trade bitcoin, and secure digital payments.

Why it's a good bet: In August, the cryptocurrency lender BlockFi announced it closed a $50 million Series C round led by Morgan Creek Digital. It has reportedly set its sights on becoming a publicly-traded company in the next two years, and it might even consider tapping the public markets via a special purpose vehicle (SPAC). There's also a major opportunity in a time when bitcoin is at an all-time high.

 

Brooklinen

City: Brooklyn

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $60 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Inspired by the perfect set of sheets during a hotel stay, the husband and wife founders created Brooklinen as a direct-to-consumer seller of bedding and other home goods.

Why it's a good bet: The online retailer raised $50 million in funding in March to grow its brick-and-mortar business and expand internationally. And even though it walked back plans to open two stores during the pandemic, Brooklinen, which said it was profitable in March, is fortunate to be selling loungewear and other creature comforts as more people stay home.

Bunch

City: New York

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $23 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Bunch is a video chat app built exclusively for multiplayer mobile games.

Why it's a good bet: The video game industry got a lift from lockdowns, as people trapped inside spent more of their time and budget on software and devices that let them escape to other worlds. Investors took note, and Bunch pocketed $20 million in funding in September. The startup told Forbes it plans to use the money to pay for servers and lots of new hires.

Cameo

City: Fully remote

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $65 million

Valuation: $300 million

What it does: Cameo lets everyday people hire actors, athletes, artists, and celebrities of all types to create personalized video messages for any occasion, for a nominal fee.

Why it's a good bet: The mobile app recorded a spike in activity as more people acclimated to social distancing and quarantining in their homes. Plus, Cameo chief Steven Galanis made the decision to relinquish the Chicago and Los Angeles offices in favor of a fully distributed workforce, which gives the company an edge in hiring the best candidates wherever they are.

Chief

City: New York

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: $40 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Chief is a private social network for female business leaders.

Why it's a good bet: A good mentor is hard to find when you're not going into an office. That could explain the spike in waitlist sign-ups for Chief, which connects women in executive roles through workshops, fireside chats with industry leaders, and small group discussions. Chief's existing investors plugged another $15 million into the startup last spring to fuel its expansion.

Chowbus

City: Chicago

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $77 million

Valuation: $230 million

What it does: Chowbus is a food-delivery app for local Asian restaurants and groceries.

Why it's a good bet: The extended lockdowns have been an accelerant for lots of food-delivery companies, but Chowbus is doing "especially well," one insider said, "because of their flawless customer service and dish-centric search functionality." Investors, impressed by how much it had scaled with just $4 million in funding, infused another $33 million into the company in July.

Citizen

City: New York

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $60 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Citizen is a crime-tracker that culls incident reports from police scanners and lets nearby users broadcast live video and alert their friends on the app that they're OK.

Why it's a good bet: Investors were not deterred by a controversy that got an early version of the app booted from Apple's App Store, and in March, Goodwater Capital shelled out $20 million for the crime-tracker. The company said it will use the funds to build new features, such as a contact-tracing functionality, called SafePass, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The company told Insider that it doubled sign-ups in 2020 to nearly 6 million users.

Clearbanc

City: Toronto

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $370 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Clearbanc provides funding from $10,000 to $10 million to companies in exchange for a share of their revenue until the funding is paid back with a 6% fee.

Why it's a good bet: Clearbanc is an investment firm that offers an alternative route to traditional venture capital. The Toronto-based startup loans money to other startups for a fee and a share of their revenue. This year, its business has increased more than 100% as companies rushed to stash on cash during the pandemic. It has already added over 1,400 customers this year. In October, it brought on Curt Sigfstead, a 22-year veteran from JP Morgan, as its new CFO, who is responsible for raising capital from investors to fund startups.

Coda

City: Mountain View, California

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $140 million

Valuation: $636 million

What it does: Coda offers cloud software that helps teams work together and collaborate on documents online. 

Why it's a good bet: Coda just announced it raised $80 million in a round led by Kleiner Perkins this year, bringing its valuation to $636 million. As the ongoing pandemic pushes people to work remotely, this trend will likely continue even after the pandemic is over. Coda jumps right into that future of work trend led by Zoom, Microsoft, and Google by allowing people to collaborate on documents wherever they are.

Couchbase

City: Santa Clara, California

Year founded: 2009

Total funding: $294 million

Valuation: $580 million

What it does: Couchbase offers a type of database that is ideal for applications that live in the cloud. 

Why it's a good bet: The database startup Couchbase has become an upstart rival to Oracle and Microsoft. In May, it closed a massive $105 million round led by GPI Capital. And Couchbase has been winning over large enterprise customers, including names like GE, Comcast, Wells Fargo, United and Marriott. Couchbase said that customers have been signing larger contracts, and it had nearly $100 million in annual recurring revenue under contract.

 

Deel

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2018

Total funding: $48.5 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Deel builds offers payroll software for businesses working with global remote contractors. It can handle contracts, payments, and taxes, as well as comply with rules and regulations.

Why it's a good bet: In September, Deel announced it raised a $30 million round led by Spark Capital. This is just six months after it raised a $14 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. There's good reason for so much VC interest. Thanks to the remote work boom, Deel makes it easy for companies to handle payroll and compliance.

 

Deliverr

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $70.1 million

Valuation: $210 million

What it does: Deliverr offers AI software and access to a network of warehouses that helps businesses fulfill orders, offer fast-shipping options and decide which warehouse to store goods.

Why it's a good bet: Deliverr announced in February that it raised $40 million led by Activant Capital. E-commerce is booming now during the coronavirus pandemic. And now, Deliverr is challenging Amazon by using AI to offer a faster and more efficient way for companies to ship their products and give small businesses an alternative option.

Domino Data Lab

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: $123 million

Valuation: $342 million

What it does: Domino Data Lab develops offers data science software that allows users to use and analyze data in their projects, whether it's developing medicines, building cars, or more.

Why it's a good bet: In June, Domino Data Lab raised $43 million in Series E funding from Highland Capital Partners, Dell Technologies Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Coatue Management, among other investors. As businesses increasingly use AI, Domino Data Lab helps them manage all their collection of AI tools. Companies use AI and machine learning for performing tasks faster and more efficiently, but they're becoming increasingly complex. That's where Domino Data Lab comes in.

Drop

City: Toronto

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $71 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Drop is a consumer loyalty app that lets users collect points when they shop at more than 500 brands like Amazon, Uber, Postmates, and Starbucks, and earn gift cards.

Why it's a good bet: Plenty of people will continue to shop online even after stores reopen, which is good news for a loyalty app that partners with mostly online stores and services.

Drop was No. 2 on LinkedIn's list of the top Canadian startups to work for in 2020, and it's looking for candidates who align with its values of passion, grit, humility, and hustle, the company said. The engineering team has the most openings right now as it scales its app.

Dutchie

City: Bend, Oregon

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $53 million

Valuation: $205 million

What it does: Dutchie uses software to connect cannabis consumers — who can order from the comfort of their own homes — to local dispensaries in their area.

Why it's a good bet: Dutchie said earlier this year that 10% of all legal cannabis in the world is bought through its software. That was enough to convince mainstream funds, like Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital and Kevin Durant's Thirty Five Ventures, as well as Howard Schultz, the billionaire Starbucks founder, to participate in a $35 million funding round in August.

Edlyft

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: $1 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Edlyft is a tutoring service for computer science courses. College students pay a monthly fee to access a small group led by a student who has passed the class before.

Why it's a good bet: The founding duo knows exactly what are the pain points for its users. The studied computer science at Yale and Stanford before engineering at Silicon Valley giants. In October, the pair became two of the youngest black women ever to raise over a million in venture after Edlyft closed $1.4 million from Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins, and other funds.

Fast

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: $22 million

Valuation: $180 million

What it does: Fast allows companies to build secure shopping apps by providing online login and checkout features. 

Why it's a good bet: Fast is a relatively new fintech player on the horizon, and in March, Stripe backed Fast in a $20 million round. Now, it's reportedly raising another round just months later at a $1 billion valuation. This is Fast's third financing in 12 months. Since the company builds tools for online shopping and allows customers to check out with one click, its online payments business has been booming as customers shop online from the comfort of their homes.

Finix

City: Cincinnati, Ohio

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $94.5 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Finix builds a payment processing platform for businesses that can track transactions and allow banks and companies to send money.

Why it's a good bet: Finix announced in August that it closed a $30 million extension round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, which included involvement from first-time investor American Express Ventures. As companies move their businesses online, building payment systems can be complicated. Finix allows software companies to easily add payment features without having to build it themselves.

Forethought

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $36 million

Valuation: $103 million

What it does: Forethought uses AI to provide information to customers in their work and solve repetitive tasks, allowing employees to be more productive and speeding up the time it takes to resolve an issue.

Why it's a good bet: Forethought is backed by high-profile VC firms, executives and celebrities for its work in building AI tools that allow workers to automate routine tasks and better serve their customers. It also built a customer service chatbot to answer support tickets. The company has closed more than 500,000 support tickets for customers like Carta, Gusto, and Thumbtack. In its Series B round, it has raised $17 million from Kutcher and Guy Oseary's Sound Ventures, NEA, Operator Collective, and others, alongside Sean "Diddy" Combs, LL Cool J, and Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith.

Ginger

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2011

Total funding: $136 million

Valuation: $200 million

What it does: Ginger builds a platform that provides virtual mental health support, including chat support with behavioral health coaches and video calls with therapists and psychiatrists.

Why it's a good bet: The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has taken a mental health toll on people worldwide, and Ginger helps people access these mental health benefits remotely, providing services like virtual psychiatry visits, teletherapy, and coaching. Ginger raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Advance Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners in August.

 

Hipcamp

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: $41 million

Valuation: $127 million

What it does: Hipcamp is a database that connects travelers with private landowners who can earn a side hustle letting people stay on their farms, ranches, campsites, and RV parks.

Why it's a good bet: Social distancing has accelerated the business of outdoor experiences, making Hipcamp — the "Airbnb of the outdoors" — especially popular with consumers. The company told Insider that users were only willing to go short distances during the pandemic, and still, the Hipcamp site logged more than twice the web traffic in 2020 as it did in 2019.

Interos

City: Arlington, Virginia

Year founded: 2005

Total funding: $25 million

Valuation: $117 million

What it does: Interos helps businesses analyze and respond to risks in their supply chain by identifying patterns in business operations and the financial markets. 

Why it's a good bet: The coronavirus pandemic has caused jolts in many companies' supply chain systems as customers stock up on goods and increasingly rely on e-commerce. Interos addresses those challenges by using AI to help businesses respond to any major changes in their supply chains. In March, the company announced it closed $17.5 million from investors such as Kleiner Perkins.

Jellyfish

City: Boston

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $12 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Jellyfish offers engineering management software that helps teams stay productive and helps companies track projects.

Why it's a good bet: Jellyfish provides tools for helping managers ensure that engineering teams are maintaining productivity by gathering data on how teams are performing and how they're using development tools. This has only become more crucial during the coronavirus pandemic when engineering teams are working remotely. The founding team, which met at the Oracle-owned Endeca, led the company in a $12 million series A funding led by Accel and Wing Venture Partners, which it announced in May.

Knowledgehook

City: Toronto

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $21 million

Valuation: $175 million

What it does: Knowledgehook's software helps math teachers track how well their students grasp the material, and gives parents practice quizzes to support their kids' learning at home.

Why it's a good bet: The company said now more than ever, parents have a big job to do in helping children learn. That's part of the pitch that led Knowledgehook, built by an ex-program manager at Microsoft, to raise $20 million in a funding round that was announced in October. The startup wants to use the funds to grow its user base to 50 million students in 2021, it said.

League

City: Toronto

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $110.78 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: League builds a health benefits platform to help companies simplify health enrollment and keep costs down.

Why it's a good bet: League was named by LinkedIn as one of the top Canadian startups on the rise this year. It's backed by firms like Telus Ventures and Omers Ventures. As remote work explodes, League also gives its own employees the option of permanent remote work and shifted its catered lunches to UberEats credits.

Lendtable

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2020

Total funding: $4.5 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Lendtable offers cash loans to customers to invest in their retirement savings.

Why it's a good bet: The company was among the first batch to receive venture funding from SoftBank's $100 million Opportunity Fund, dedicated to startups led by Black, Latinx, and Native American founders. One of the youngest startups on this list, Lendtable is a recent graduate of Y Combinator, and it plans to use its new seed funding to hire a world-class team. 

Loom

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $68.48 million

Valuation: $350 million

What it does: Loom builds a tool that allows people to send messages to each other by capturing, recording, and sharing videos. 

Why it's a good bet: Loom was named one of LinkedIn's top 50 U.S. startups on the rise. In late May, it doubled its valuation this year from a previous fundraise when it announced a $28.75 million second Series B led by Sequoia Capital and Coatue. It's making remote work much easier for users by letting them create and share video recordings and hold meetings asynchronously.

Modern Health

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $96.07 million

Valuation: $750 million

What it does: Modern Health develops a mental wellness platform to help companies manage employee health benefits and also provides resources like well-being assessments and a network of certified coaches and licensed therapists.

Why it's a good bet: Modern Health saw an eventful year that pushed its former CEO Alyson Friedensohn out. However, its mission of selling mental health services as an employee benefits still resonates with customers and VCs as the ongoing pandemic has taken a toll on many people's mental health. The company raised twice this year: a $31 million round in January led by Founders Fund and a $51 million round in December led by Battery Ventures.

Mos

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $17 million

Valuation: $48 million

What it does: Mos helps college students apply for and manage financial aid.

Why it's a good bet: Before the pandemic, Mos gave college students a "one-stop shop" for searching and applying for government-backed financial aid. But with many students and their families out of work due to the shutdowns, Mos is now also helping users appeal financial aid decisions. The company raised $13 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital in May.

Netlify

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $97 million

Valuation: $593 million

What it does: Netlify offers a web development tool for users to build, design, launch, and host websites that are fast and secure. 

Why it's a good bet: In March, Netlify announced a $53 million Series C funding led by EQT Ventures Fund, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and GitHub cofounder Tom Preston-Werner. Its product helps developers easily build websites without having to manage web servers. It builds with Jamstack, a hot new web architecture for developing and hosting websites. Today, Netlify's products are used by over 800,000 developers and businesses, including Facebook, Google, Loblaw, Unilever, and Popeyes parent Restaurant Brands International.

OpenSpace

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $32 million

Valuation: $75 million

What it does: OpenSpace builds an AI product that can create photo representations of construction sites and map them against a site plan, making it easier for companies to document sites.

Why it's a good bet: OpenSpace announced in July that it raised $15 million in a Series B round led by Menlo Ventures. In the past year, construction companies have been ramping up their tech investments so that workers can supervise sites remotely. OpenSpace provides the tools for that by allowing workers to navigate construction sites and maps virtually.

Players' Lounge

City: Brooklyn

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $3 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: A wagering service for video-gamers, Players' Lounge pits users against each other in console and PC games and lets them place bets on matches they're playing.

Why it's a good bet: The startup said both revenue and monthly active users grew by 100% between March and June, thanks to pandemic tailwinds in gaming. And as casual players look for new ways to gain value from the time they spend gaming, its momentum should continue.

Propel

City: Brooklyn

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $18 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Propel helps customers better manage their food stamps. In addition to checking their food stamps balance, users can clip coupons and explore job posts. 

Why it's a good bet: For Propel, food stamps are just the start. The company wants to build all kinds of software for low-income users, overlooked by most consumer finance companies. It's backed by highly respected funds such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Max Levchin's SciFi VC, as well as celebrity investors like Kevin Durant and Serena Williams.

Nuvia

City: Santa Clara, California

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: $296 million

Valuation: $539 million

What it does: Nuvia designs semiconductors that are high-performing, energy-efficient, scalable, and work with applications on the cloud.

Why it's a good bet: The semiconductor startup Nuvia announced in September that it raised a massive $240 million round from investors led by Mithril Capital, Sehat Sutardja and Weili Dai, founders of Marvell Technology Group. It's competing against legacy giants like Intel, AMD, Nvidia. As these Goliaths battle it out, Nuvia has emerged, specializing in designing semiconductors that are geared towards cloud data centers and data-intensive AI technologies. It also has an all-star founding team with veterans of Apple and Google.

Rockset

City: San Mateo, California

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $61.67 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Rockset develops a search and analytics engine that can help companies handle large amounts of data in their apps.

Why it's a good bet: Founded by former Facebook engineers, Rockset builds an engine for real-time data processing. It competes with the data warehousing firm Snowflake and the search company Elastic, but it says it stands out in its capabilities to process vast amounts of data in milliseconds. In October, Rockset announced a $40 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital.

Run the World

City: Mountain View, California

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: $15 million

Valuation: $62 million

What it does: Run the World builds a platform for creating, promoting, and hosting online events, as well as selling tickets and inviting speakers. 

Why it's a good bet: Founded by former Facebook employees, Run the World launched out of stealth in March and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz. Since large in-person events and conferences have faded away this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Run the World fills that need by allowing people to run those events online – whether it's a lecture, conference, or festival. What's more, on Run the World, the audience can interact with the speaker and other attendees.

 

PlayVS

City: Los Angeles

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $107 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: A sports league for e-sports, PlayVS is a software startup that organizes video-game competitions for more than 13,000 high schools and colleges across the country.

Why it's a good bet: The pandemic forced many school sports programs to cancel their seasons, but e-sports has always been an extracurricular activity that can be done remotely. In 2020, PlayVS added key partners so it could create tournaments for Fortnite, Overwatch, and League of Legends players, and it scored $60.5 million in venture over two funding rounds.

Secfi

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $557 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Secfi offers free services that helps startup employees figure out the stock parts of their compensation.

Why it's a good bet: After the initial public offering market bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, many startup employees turned to Secfi to understand and unlock the value of their stock options before their companies went public. Secfi said in November that it has users from 75% of all US unicorn startups, or companies that are worth more than $1 billion on paper.

 

Simple Habit

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $12 million

Valuation: $42 million

What it does: Simple Habit offers busy professionals access to quick guided meditations.

Why it's a good bet: Its founder created the app after she found meditation was the only cure for burnout and stress after building her previous company and taking it to its exit. In 2020, remote workers who felt the same struggle turning off their brains turned to Simple Habit, which has more than 2,000 guided meditations for a variety of situations and moods.

Sourcegraph

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: $98 million

Valuation: $108 million

What it does: Sourcegraph builds a search engine that allows users to search for code and make programming more efficient.

Why it's a good bet: Sourcegraph makes a company's code searchable, allowing software engineers to efficiently find, analyze, and fix code. In March, it raised $23 million led by Craft Ventures, and investors were so excited that it announced another $5 million in July, this time led by Felicis Ventures. Already, it has an impressive roster of customers, including Amazon, Tinder, Uber, Indeed, Airbnb, and Yelp. 

Spring Health

City: New York

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $107 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Spring Health allows companies to manage employee mental health benefits, match employees with care plans that are personalized to their needs, and provide resources like coaching, therapy, psychiatry, and referrals.

Why it's a good bet: In November, Spring Health raised $76 million in a Series B round led by Tiger Global. As this year led to more people experiencing anxiety, depression, and burnout, Spring Health makes it easy for employees to access both physical and mental health care. This includes digital exercises, coaching, therapy, medication, and more.

Substack

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: $21 million

Valuation: $48 million

What it does: Substack lets anyone start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions.

Why it's a good bet: The service took off this year as many well-known journalists quit their staff jobs to build their own micro-outlets with Substack newsletters. The company told NPR in December that it now has than 250,000 subscribers who pay to read writers including tech journalist Casey Newton, Bitcoin booster Anthony Pompliano, and culture savant Luke O'Neil.

Superhuman

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $60 million

Valuation: $260 million

What it does: Superhuman is a paid email app that promises a faster email experience. It equips users with keyboard shortcuts and a triage feature to empty their inbox in less time.

Why it's a good bet: The email app, which is still in beta, has captured the hearts and wallets of tech founders and investors — and is on the precipice of reaching a much larger audience. The company said in September it has a waitlist of 350,000 people, and that list will tick up after Superhuman rolls out support for Office 365 users and an Andrid app sometime in 2021.

Symend

City: Calgary, Canada

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $54 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Symend uses artificial intelligence and behavioral science to help businesses such as telecoms and financial institutions identify their customers who might struggle to keep up with payments, so the firms can extend credit or take other measures to support them.

Why it's a good bet: Part of the reason for its growth, the addressable market is getting bigger, the company said. There are lots of subscription services in consumer finance, for example, that didn't exist a decade ago, which means more consumers need their support.

The company raised $52 million in venture funding last May, and it's spending a good chunk of change on its most important asset: talent. Symend hired about 100 employees in 2020.

Tally

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $92 million

Valuation: $285 million

What it does: Tally is a consumer app for managing money and paying off credit-card debt.

Why it's a good bet: Tally's ability to help reduce financial and emotional burdens for consumers is especially useful during this time of economic uncertainty and stress. The fintech raised $25 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins, Cowboy Ventures, and others in October.

Tempo

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2014

Total funding: $77 million

Valuation: $160 million

What it does: Tempo, a fitness company, makes a weight-lifting machine that's equipped with a screen and sensors so users can watch live digital classes and track their workout.

Why it's a good bet: The startup began taking pre-orders last February and within five months it was on track to surpass $100 million in annual revenue, Tempo said. Like fitness leader Peloton, the company takes in a monthly fee to access classes on top of the cost of the device. And the ongoing lockdowns mean people won't be rushing into gyms anytime soon.

The company raised $60 million from Founders Fund, General Catalyst, and other funds in July, for the purpose of boosting its manufacturing capacity and producing more classes.

Tomo Networks

City: Seattle

Year founded: 2020

Total funding: $40 million

Valuation: $100 million

What it does: Founded by two former Zillow executives, Tomo Networks is building digital products for buying a home. It's starting with digital mortgages, a product that lets consumers apply for a loan, provide the necessary documents, and make payments from one elegant app. 

Why it's a good bet: It's hard to imagine a better time to spin up a "proptech" startup, as houses sold in record numbers in 2020. The real estate industry has also completely reworked the closing process to allow people to get it done virtually, and many states are passing legislation to permit the use of electronic signatures and notarizations during the health crisis.

Tonal

City: San Francisco

Year founded: 2015

Total funding: $200 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Tonal is a fitness company selling an at-home weights machine that's like a Peloton for strength training. It offers on-demand coaching and personalized workouts.

Why it's a good bet: Tonal had a banner year as more people traded gym memberships for at-home fitness devices. The company said in September that sales increased 12X in 2020 compared to the previous year, with member engagement ticking up, as well. It also opened store locations in 15 markets so people can book a private appointment to try before they buy.

Top Hat

City: Toronto

Year founded: 2009

Total funding: $98 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Top Hat builds a teaching platform to bring education online and allows professors to publish, share, and collaborate on course materials. 

Why it's a good bet: The Canadian EdTech company Top Hat raised a $55 million round in February led by Georgian and Inovia Capital. As universities put their courses online and professors stream their lectures, Top Hat has picked up momentum in making this all possible. It's helping to reinvent the future of education as classrooms adopt tech as a central part of how they function.

Turntide Technologies

City: Sunnyvale, California

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: $100 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Turntide Technologies makes the world's first truly sustainable electric motor.

Why it's a good bet: The type of energy-saving motor that Turntide has developed was once thought to be impossible to make. Ten years and 100 patents later, the company now dreams of replacing every motor everywhere with this new, off-the-shelf "switched reluctance motor" that could vanish 2,300 megatons of carbon emissions from the atmosphere, according to Turntide.

Wave

City: Los Angeles

Year founded: 2016

Total funding: $40 million

Valuation: Undisclosed

What it does: Wave partners with music labels and artists to create virtual concerts.

Why it's a good bet: Part-software-startup, part-production-studio, Wave closed on two rounds of venture funding since the pandemic's outbreak, as shut-in concertgoers seek out new experiences. In 2020, it also landed partnerships with Warner Music Group, Jay Z's Roc Nation, and Tencent to produce virtual, interactive concerts with artists signed to their labels.

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