Time to calibrate the foresight crystal. Within the expansive landscape of over 50,000 venture-backed startups in the United States, only a minuscule fraction will ever attain a billion-dollar valuation. The 15 startups most poised to achieve this milestone.
The track record is exemplary: out of the 200 alumni from previous lists, 120 have transformed into unicorns. This impressive group includes well-known names like DoorDash, Benchling, Duolingo, and Rippling.
An additional 27 were successfully acquired, while three went public with valuations under a billion dollars. A mere five experienced failure or shutdown, although at least 21 of our alumni who once surpassed the billion-dollar mark have seen their worth decrease below that level.
In a challenging landscape marked by banking challenges, workforce reductions, cautious investors, and constrained valuations, identifying winners has been particularly demanding this year. However, after considering over 200 nominations, we believe that these 15 candidates, listed in alphabetical order, hold the greatest potential to shine.
Here Are the 15 Next Unicorns
Founders: Matthew Vega-Sanz (CEO), Michael Vega-Sanz
Equity Raised: $40 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $20 million
Lead investors: Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures
The Vega-Sanz twins, both 27, were raised on a small farm in southeastern Florida and embarked on their initial startup journey while studying at Babson College. Their first venture involved creating a car-rental app tailored for college students, which took shape within the confines of their dorm room.
However, when Covid-19 travel restrictions abruptly halted this endeavor, they swiftly shifted their focus to Lula. This new venture operates in the realm of per-use auto insurance, employing bespoke technology to evaluate risk. Lula’s primary market encompasses hosts on vehicle-sharing platforms like Turo and Getaround.
Achieving last year’s $20 million in revenue within just under three years is an astounding transformation for the twins, considering they were once $2,000 in debt, a progression that Matthew Vega-Sanz describes as nothing short of remarkable.
Founders: Sid Gupta (CEO), Sourabh Mahajan, Zunu Mittal
Equity Raised: $141 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $140 million
Lead investors: 8VC, Basis Set Ventures, Founders Fund, Insight Partners, Wellington Management
Absence of stores or warehouses? Not an issue. Quince has found a solution by selling directly from manufacturers, allowing them to extend enticing deals like cashmere sweaters priced at $50 and washable silk dresses at $60. Gupta, aged 43, honed his skills in the private equity sector before venturing into the acquisition and management of a luxury candy store chain named Lolli & Pops.
Founders: Luis Basagoiti, Miguel Fernandez (CEO), Przemek Gotfryd, Ignacio Moreno
Equity Raised: $110 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $30 million
Lead investors: 01 Advisors, Bling Capital, SciFiVC, QED
For software startups seeking alternatives to venture funding, there’s a solution in the form of Capchase. Founded by Fernandez, a 32-year-old immigrant from Spain, this New York-headquartered company has channeled upwards of $2 billion to support over 4,000 businesses. Among these beneficiaries are female- and minority-owned startups, to which Capchase has provided over $100 million in financing during the preceding two years.
Founders: Cobi Blumenfeld-Gantz (CEO), Corey Metzman, Vivek Ramaswamy
Equity Raised: $61 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $15 million
Lead investors: Addition, Maverick Ventures, Narya, Susa Ventures
Amidst the bewildering complexity of Medicare plans, older individuals can find a reliable companion in Chapter. Established in 2020 and under the guidance of Blumenfeld-Gantz, a 33-year-old expert with experience at Palantir, Chapter employs a strategy akin to that of a skilled matchmaker.
Leveraging its extensive database encompassing all available health coverage options, Chapter identifies the optimal choice tailored to each individual. Adding to the appeal, the advisors at Chapter don’t operate on a commission-based model. Irrespective of which plan earns approval, these dedicated advisors receive consistent compensation.
Founders: Alexandra Buttke, Gary Pignata, Angelo Stracquatanio (CEO)
Equity raised: $207 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $25 million
Lead investors: Alkeon Capital, Iconiq, Insight Partners, Pritzker Group, Silverton Partners
Producing pharmaceuticals is a formidable challenge, especially without a firm grasp on the manufacturing process. This is precisely the gap that Apprentice’s software was designed to bridge. At the helm of this effort is Stracquatanio, aged 37, who along with his co-founders, established the company in Jersey City, New Jersey, back in 2014. The company’s trajectory gained momentum during the pandemic, as the urgency of expediting vaccine production became evident.
Among its clientele are significant players like the pharmaceutical powerhouse Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as genome engineering firm Synthego, alongside other undisclosed companies due to privacy considerations. Stracquatanio emphasizes, ‘Our relentless dedication is to the well-being of the patient,’ even though, he acknowledges, ‘the patient will remain unaware of our existence.’
Founders: Sarah Hardy, Laura Modi (CEO)
Equity Raised: $142 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $84 million
Lead investors: Park West Asset Management, PowerPlant Partners, VMG Partners
The scarcity of powdered baby formula experienced across the country in the previous year presented an opportunity for the recently established company Bobbie, which was founded in 2018 by mothers Modi (aged 38) and Hardy (aged 43), to carve out a modest portion of the market share from the well-established global players such as Abbott Nutrition, Reckitt Benckiser, and Nestlé.
Bobbie, deriving its name from Modi’s daughter’s charming pronunciation of the word ‘bottle,’ adopted an innovative approach by exclusively providing formula to their existing clientele. This strategic decision not only enhanced brand loyalty but also led to the anticipation of the company achieving $165 million in revenue in the year 2023.
Founder: Barney Hussey-Yeo (CEO)
Equity Raised: $137 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $31 million
Lead investors: Balderton Capital, EQT Ventures, LocalGlobe, Sofina
Cleo enlists a team of ten comedians to infuse a touch of sweetness into the occasionally bitter realm of personal financial planning. A user base of five million Americans, with a median age of 25, engages with the chatbot to effectively monitor their expenditures, establish credit, strategize savings—and to uncover any latent humor concealed within the candid reality of their student-loan obligations.
Founders: Karim Butt, Danielle Cohen-Shohet (CEO)
Equity Raised: $70 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $40 million
Lead investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, L Catterton, Imaginary Ventures
When addressing the challenge of streamlining the tedious chores that often plague small hair salons, makeup artists, and spas, Cohen-Shohet has excelled. Founded in 2015, GlossGenius takes charge of tasks such as scheduling, accounting, and maintaining optimal inventory levels of necessities like shampoo. This automation is truly remarkable.
Founders: Gabriel Pereyra (CEO), Winston Weinberg
Equity Raised: $26 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $0
Lead investors: OpenAI Startup Fund, Sequoia
Harvey’s business strategy, in simple terms: Harness AI to tackle tasks that humans find incredibly dull. In Harvey’s context, this pertains to laborious legal work, such as regulatory filings and preliminary drafts typically undertaken by junior lawyers.
It was as recent as last summer when ex-securities attorney Weinberg joined forces with Pereyra, a former member of DeepMind and Meta, to introduce Harvey. Remarkably, within this short span, Harvey has secured five major clients, including prominent names like PwC, a leading accounting firm, and Allen & Overy, a global law practice. The combined agreements have amounted to over $5 million in annual recurring revenue by mid-2023.
Founders: Glenn Case, AJ Piplica (CEO), Skyler Shuford, Mike Smayda
Equity Raised: $119 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $10 million
Lead investors: Sam Altman, Canaan Partners, Khosla Ventures
Imagine a world where you could travel from New York to Paris in just 90 minutes – a truly captivating notion. Hermeus is on a mission to transform this dream into reality. Headquartered in Atlanta, this startup envisions constructing a hypersonic airliner with the capability to accommodate 20 passengers, soaring at an astonishing five times the speed of sound, equivalent to 3,800 miles per hour.
In comparison, the Concorde’s pace was considerably slower, less than half of this speed. Can Hermeus’ plan be considered excessively ambitious? Certainly. Yet, the company has the privilege of refining its technology with the support of the Pentagon, benefitting from a $30 million investment from the Air Force.
Initially, Hermeus will develop a smaller hypersonic drone named Quarterhouse, set to take flight in the upcoming year. Subsequently, a larger drone named Darkhorse is anticipated to follow suit in 2026.
Both drones will be propelled during takeoff by a readily available fighter jet engine, projected to accelerate the aircraft to nearly Mach 3 a velocity sufficient to initiate a ramjet, a propulsion system relying on forward movement to compress air for efficient fuel combustion, with no moving parts.
This technology has undergone decades of development and is considered relatively advanced. According to AJ Piplica, aged 35, “This is an engineering challenge, not a science challenge.” However, progress often advances slowly, akin to a lumbering creature. Thus, don’t anticipate commercial flights until at least the mid-2030s.
Founders: Caitlin Colgrove, Barry McCardel (CEO), Glen Takahashi
Equity Raised: $96 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $6 million
Lead investors: Amplify Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint, Sequoia
Hex specializes in transforming data, including insights into consumer behavior, into dynamic visual representations like interactive charts, tables, and maps. These visualizations can be readily shared without the need for screenshots.
The company, under the leadership of McCardel, a 34-year-old professional with experience at Palantir and PwC, operates on a freemium approach. It attracts new clients by providing complimentary services, while enterprise users such as SeatGeek and Brex are charged $75 per member per month for premium access.
Founders: Josh Curl, Kashish Gupta (co-CEO), Tejas Manohar (co-CEO)
Equity Raised: $92 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $10 million
Lead investors: Afore Capital, Amplify Partners, Bain Capital, Iconiq, YCombinator
As major brands transitioned their sales to the online realm during the Covid-19 lockdowns, they encountered a challenge – they possessed substantial volumes of consumer data, yet lacked the means to extract valuable marketing insights from it.
This is precisely where Hightouch steps in. Established by Gupta, and Manohar, Hightouch facilitates the synchronization of consumer data generated by clients including Warner Music, PetSmart, and Cars with tools from Salesforce and Facebook Ads. This provides a dual advantage to customers: it accelerates their marketing activities while also enabling more accurate targeting of their marketing campaigns.
Founders: Mark Daughters, Adam Pettit (CEO), Wesley Pettit
Equity Raised: $188 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $19 million
Lead investors: Addition, Felicis, First Round Capital, Greycroft, Tiger Global Management
Suggestions that Apple devices have achieved dominion within the corporate landscape possess a hint of truth. Recognizing this trend, Adam Pettit and his co-founders, at the age of 34, decided to capitalize on it by simplifying the task of safeguarding and overseeing fleets of iMacs, MacBooks, and iPhones for businesses.
Kandji’s standout offering, employed by notable clients like software company Sisense and gaming publisher Tilting Point, streamlines this procedure through cloud-based operations.
Founders: Daniel Rasmuson, Brian Rieger, Manu Sharma (CEO)
Equity Raised: $189 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $20 million
Lead investors: Andreessen Horowitz, B Capital Group, First Round Capital, Gradient Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, SoftBank
Anyone who’s ever exclaimed, ‘You have to check out this meme!’ and then finding themselves awkwardly searching for it can understand this predicament: The correct pieces of data, particularly the extensive volumes crucial for advancing artificial intelligence, hold little value if their whereabouts remain unknown.
Addressing this issue by standardizing, categorizing, and removing hindrances is the core focus of Labelbox. Founded by Sharma, a 32-year-old immigrant from India, in 2018, the company has garnered clientele such as OpenAI, Procter & Gamble, and Google, who rely on Labelbox’s data management software to aid in the development of AI applications.
Founders: Max Blumenfeld, Naftali Harris (CEO)
Equity Raised: $84 million
Estimated 2022 revenue: $25 million
Lead investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Craft Ventures
In their ceaseless pursuit to outwit law enforcement, criminals have devised a strategy termed as synthetic identity fraud, where they extract a single piece of personal information to construct an entire financial profile. Harris and Blumenfeld, both aged 31, were engaged as data scientists at the buy-now, pay-later app Affirm, when they inadvertently stumbled upon numerous instances of this shrewd method of wreaking havoc in people’s lives, dating as far back as 2016.
In response, the duo founded Senti-Link in San Francisco the following year. Leveraging machine learning and guided by human insights, Senti-Link has been dedicated to thwarting theft for financial institutions, lenders, and other entities. Over time, its focus has broadened from synthetic identity fraud to encompass various forms of fraud, including the traditional identity theft.
within the expansive landscape of over 50,000 venture-backed startups in the United States, only a fraction will ever attain a billion-dollar valuation. Identifies the 15 startups most poised for this milestone. The track record is strong; 120 of 200 previous alumni became unicorns. Despite challenges, these 15, presented in alphabetical order, show immense potential to shine.