Once upon time (aka 10 years ago), giant corporations ruled the world. Times have changed and today, startups are disrupting industries left and right. People are constantly watching out for the next powerhouse to rival the likes of Google, Facebook, or Uber. Here’s a look at the leading startups that are ruling the worlds of hospitality, finance, transportation, design, and beauty! Follow their lead; and you just might find a few tricks to work for your own ventures. You may even find yourself playing in the big leagues very soon!
Formerly AirBed and Breakfast, Airbnb started when founders Joe Beddia and Brian Chesky decided to rent out lodging space, in the form of three air mattresses, in their apartment. They made their own site to make the experience more personal. They received great reviews and soon, people began asking for Airbnb across the globe. After several fundraising campaigns (like special edition election cereal boxes), intelligent platform integrations (Craigslist postings), and a photography program that guaranteed beautiful photos for all Airbnb listings, Airbnb has become a household name in accommodations. The platform has also recently expanded to include experiences and restaurants, so you may arrange tours and meals as well.
888 Brannan Street, San Francisco, California, USA
Patrick and John Collison have turned heads in Silicon Valley since their teen years as innovators, so when they started Stripe, it was no surprise that it became a game-changer in online transactions. The brothers founded the company after debates on the difficulty of accepting payments on the web. They looked for a way to make the process simpler, especially for developers (it was even called “/Dev/Payments” in the early stages). The product grew through word-of-mouth, powered by iterations that guaranteed the constant improvement of user experience. The company’s products streamlines online payments and billings. It has been the choice portal of tech startups, as well as big names like music streaming site Spotify and collaboration hub Slack. In the coming years, it’s pegged to expand its international reach and to develop features for larger companies who wish to use their platform.
510 Townsend Street, San Francisco, California, USA
Proving that today’s startups go above and beyond—literally—Elon Musk’s (of Paypal and Tesla Motors) SpaceX is in the business of launching spacecrafts into low earth orbit. In 2008, it became the first privately-funded organization to send a payload into space. Two years later, SpaceX’s Dragon was recognized as the first privately-owned spacecraft to return to Earth from orbit. It was also the first private rocket to dock in the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012. SpaceX continues to be a pioneer in the space industry, sending unmanned vehicles to the ISS, proving the possibility of reusing rockets, and signing on with NASA to fly astronauts to space by 2023!
Rocket Road, Hawthorne, California, USA
Meituan-Dianping began as a startup focused on restaurant reviews and promotions. After strategic partnerships and product developments, it has grown to be both China’s biggest on-demand food delivery portal and hotel booking site! The company’s primary aim is to become the most important technology in the daily lives of the Chinese people. By broadening its scope to include retail, cinema screenings, and beauty services (in the form of 4.7 million merchants), it’s well on its way to reach that goal.
Tower C, Hengjiweiye Building, No. 4 Wangjing East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Lyft co-founders Logan Green (CEO) and John Zimmer (CEO) are powered by a mission to reconnect people through a better transportation system. Their USD 15.1 billion-valued company (as of June 2018) operates a ride-sharing app available in over 300 US cities to more than 90% of Americans. In 2020, Lyft aims to have 50% of its total trips be shared. They have integrated public transportation into their platform, as well, targeting users who wish to take a Lyft to different transit hubs, then take a bus or train to their destination. The company is also looking to expand their transportation options to include scooters and bike-sharing!
#5000 China Basin Building, 185 Berry Street, San Francisco, California, USA
A sub-organization of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, Ant Financial is a financial services app that handles Alipay, an online payment platform; Yu’e Bao, the world’s largest money market fund operator; and Zhima Credit, a social credit system. In 2018, the company was valued at around USD 150 billion, making it the ninth largest internet company in the world! Ant Financial already dominates China, but it still has its eyes set towards conquering the rest of the global mobile finance market. Its first attempt to enter the West (through remittance company MoneyGram) was thwarted by the US government; but at the start of 2019, Ant Financial agreed to buy British payments group WorldFirst, essentially putting them in the European market.
Z Space, No. 556 Xixi Road, Hangzhou, China
Launched in 2016, Glossier is a digitally native beauty brand that specializes in skincare products, cosmetics, and fragrances. Founder Emily Weiss evolved the company from her blog “Into the Gloss,” which helped her discover women’s dissatisfaction towards conventional beauty standards. She then developed products based on feedback from real women. Her initial line—a cleanser, priming moisturizer, lip balm, and misting spray—redirected the attention towards well-primed, dewy skin; and essentially treated makeup as a fun treat afterwards. Glossier credits a great deal of its popularity to its strong social media presence. They have their branding locked in, with many millennial girls able to spot the Glossier pink from miles away! True to its roots, the brand nurtures a vocal community, making them one of the most collaborative brands in the industry.
One SoHo Square, 161 Sixth Avenue, New York City, New York, USA
Noodle.ai revolutionizes artificial intelligence (AI) by using math, data, and supercomputing to analyze and predict trends and strategies for business development. They have a range of interconnected AI applications powered by learning algorithms (meaning it changes based on the given data to give more accurate results) that enterprises may use to make smarter decisions. Leading with the concept of using AI as a service, the organization has already raised over USD 50 million in total funding, despite only starting in 2016.
8th Floor, 115 Sansome Street, San Francisco, California, USA
Shenzhen, China, People's Republic • Recommendation •
Created by the company behind the giant messaging software WeChat, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) is the largest online music entertainment platform in China. It’s multi-app ecosystem doubles as a streaming venue and a social media site, operating in a sea rich with content both from large labels and independent artists. In September 2018, TME reported a profit of USD 394 billion, nearly triple from the year before—despite the fact that only less than 5% of its 800 million monthly active user base are paying customers. It went public in the New York Stock Exchange in late 2018 and raised a USD 1.1 billion initial public offering (IPO)!
17th Floor, Malata Building, Kejizhongyi Road, Midwest District of Hi-tech Park, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Guandong, China
During her university days, Canva founder Melanie Perkins noticed how people struggled to learn graphic design basics. Starting small in her mother’s living room, she and her boyfriend (and later, Canva co-founder) Cliff Obrecht began Fusion Books, an online design tool that helps in yearbook creation. Their business boomed (it’s now the largest yearbook publisher in Australia!) and the pair realized that their technology could be used for something bigger. Thus, Canva was born—a drag-and-drop graphic design tool that gives users access to millions of designs, photos, and fonts. Since its launch in 2012, Canva has grown to over 10 million users; and its platform amasses over 100 million designs! It operates with over 100 team members from 12 different countries and three main offices (Sydney, Manila, and San Francisco). It’s currently valued at USD 1 billion, having raised USD 86 million so far.
2 Lacey Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
WeWork’s core business is renting out shared spaces to working clients, ranging from individual freelancers to big organizations like Facebook and Amazon. It started with only two locations in 2010 and grew rapidly to an international network of over 550 spaces in more than 30 countries! The WeWork operation has expanded to include dorm-like housing (WeLive), a fitness center (Rise), and a school (WeGrow). The company recently acquired office management startup Teem, signifying its moving towards the software business, as well.
115 West 18th Street, New York City, New York, USA
Lemi is better in your pocket. Discover more and create your own lists in iOS and Android!