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Weekly Featured Company: Narrative Science

Founded Headquarters Sector Employees Revenue Total Investment Recent Investment
2010 Chicago, Illinois Software & Services 51-200  $32.4 M  $10 M
Commentary

This robot can write

Big data meets AI, this probably best describes Narrative Science, a Chicago-based startup specialising in turning big data into an easy-to-understand narrative with help the artificial intelligence. What makes Narrative Science one-of-a-kind is its advanced natural language generation software called Quill. Quill can process mountains of big data, find hidden insights in the data, and turn this into a rich natural language narrative that is as easy to read as a newspaper article. What’s more, the written narrative is guaranteed to adhere to the truth as provided by the data. The company predicts that it could soon “eradicate the spreadsheet” and replace traditional data consultants. And at the rate the company is going, its prediction is slowly coming true. It has now more than 30 high-profile clients, including Forbes.com, Yahoo, and the Big Ten Network. It was also listed as one of CNBC’s top 50 disruptors of 2015.

 

Weekly Featured Company: Xiaomi

Founded Headquarters Sector Employees Revenue Total Investment Recent Investment
2010 Beijing, China Mobile & Apps 3,000 $12B $1.4B Undisclosed
Commentary

Unstoppable Xiaomi

In 2013, Google lost its top Android executive, Hugo Barra, to Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi. Joining Xiaomi as Vice President of International, Barra’s move to Xiaomi was considered as an important milestone for the company. It provided some much-needed legitimacy to an otherwise unknown company. Fast forward to the present, Xiaomi is now a global smartphone manufacturer and ranked as the third biggest seller of smartphones worldwide. The company sold 15.8 million units in the third quarter of 2014, a whopping 300% increase from the same period in 2013 when it reportedly sold 3.6 million units. In December of last year, the company raised a massive $1.1 billion worth of funding and received a valuation that has reached $45 billion, making it one of the most valuable tech startups in the world. What sets Xiaomi apart from others is its strategy. It sells Android-based phones with premium specs at rock bottom prices. By selling quality phones at near cost, it has become a serious threat to Apple and Samsung. Although it’s too early to say if Xiaomi can beat high-end giants Apple and Samsung, it will most likely try to make a dent in their market. After all, the company can beat them hands down on price.

Weekly Featured Company: The Honest Company

Founded Headquarters Sector Employees Revenue Total Investment Recent Investment
2012 Santa Monica, CA Ecommerce 201-500 $150M $122M $70M
Commentary

The Honest Company: The rewards of being honest

It all started when Hollywood actress Jessica Alba had her first child, Honor, in 2008. In her desire to provide her daughter with healthier alternatives to existing baby care products that contain petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances, Jessica conceived her idea to launch a line of non-toxic baby products. The Honest Company was established in 2012 with Jessica at the helm as founder and with co-founders Brian Lee, Sean Kane, and Christopher Gavigan. With an online store, the company offered a line of eco-friendly baby diapers, wipes, bath & body care products, and non-toxic cleaning products. The products were a huge success and raked in $50 million in sales in 2013 and later $150 million in 2014. The company has also been the darling of investors with a total accumulated funding of $122 million from three investment rounds and a valuation of almost $1 billion. What makes The Honest Company tick is it really lives up to its promise. Every product has a guarantee that informs the consumers what type of toxins and chemicals the product does not contain, providing the buyer honest and credible information. The success of the company is also a sign that consumers today are becoming smarter and that eco-friendly products now have a greater chance to succeed in the mainstream market.

Weekly Featured Company: Zenefits

Founded Headquarters Sector Employees Revenue Total Investment Recent Investment
2013 San Francisco Software & Services 1,000 $120M $583.6M $500M
Commentary

Disrupting HR

Most small companies do away with HR departments. After all, money is tight and the managers themselves are expected to do the hiring and firing, while the accountant takes care of the payroll and benefits. While this process may work for some businesses, the truth is, managing human resources is one of the more tedious aspects of running a small business and the work itself can be frustrating to non-HR managers.

Zenefits, a San Franciso-based SaaS startup, is making the entire HR process a whole lot easier and cheaper, too. Dubbed by Forbes the hottest startup of 2014, Zenefits offers free, cloud-based HR software to small businesses. So how did Zenefits beat the likes of Uber and Airbnb to become Forbes’ 2014 hottest startup? What makes Zenefits stand out is its awesome business model. By giving away a free HR cloud software to companies and then contracting to become the insurance broker of record for these companies, Zenefits earns hefty commissions from their partner insurance firms. This business model has been so effective that Zenefits has amassed more that 10,000 companies and announced a projected annually recurring revenue of $100 million over the next year. The company also recently raised $500 million at a $4.5 billion valuation.