20 of the world's hottest start-ups of 2014

Chasing the big idea
Get in the Ring

We are in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution that is spreading to nearly every nook and cranny on the planet. Even countries plagued with political strife or in the midst of a deep recession are seeing a surge in start-up activity. The phenomenon is indicative of a premise that Endeavor's co-founder Linda Rottenberg really believes in: When economies turn down, entrepreneurs turn up.

These innovators can be found way beyond the borders of Silicon Valley in such outposts as Iran, Greece, Denmark and Pakistan. Equipped with low-cost technology and the tenacity to turn bright ideas into commercial success, they are participating in the 2014 Startup Open competition during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The competition, held in key cities worldwide, gives entrepreneurs a stage in which to pitch their ideas to potential investors, mentors and the business community. The first prizewinner will get to go to the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan, Italy, in March. Other prizes include a free stay at the GEW House in Kansas City's Startup Village and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs through the EO network.

This year, founders (and founder teams) from 38 countries submitted more than 600 start-up ideas for consideration. Sixty-four percent are from outside the U.S. Here is a look at top contenders.

—By CNBC's Lori Ioannou
Posted 17 Nov. 2014

AgeSafe
Jupiterimages | Stockbyte | Getty Images

Brea, California, USA
Echo Chang

AgeSafe hopes to revolutionize the personal emergency response system (PERS) industry. Current prevalent PERS devices provide a false sense of safety for seniors living alone. With some 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day and 85 and above being the fastest-growing age group in the world, the need for a better safety-monitoring and assistance device is real.

AgeSafe is a non-wearable automatic accident-monitoring and assistance system for seniors, which requires no effort on the part of the user; accidents and immobility are automatically detected and assistance dispatched. The system, which is not camera-based, therefore is privacy protected and non-intrusive and permits caregivers to monitor care recipients' daily activities through mobile devices, even when they are thousands of miles apart.

Airstoc
Airstoc

Sheffield, England
Giles Moore

Airstoc is a dedicated marketplace for the professional drone-filming industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. Airstoc showcases and sells Ultra HD aerial stock footage and provides bespoke filming-by-drone anywhere in the world. It enables users to capture or purchase high-quality footage, including ultrahigh definition (4K, 5K and 6K).

The footage can be used in a variety of industries, including broadcasting, advertising, films, TV, websites and corporate sectors, at a price to suit all budgets in an efficient manner.

The company also offers a job-referral service to allow bespoke filming anywhere in the world.

Atikus Insurance
Atikus

New York, USA
Katherine Woska

Atikus aims to spur commercial lending to small- and medium-sized businesses by providing comprehensive credit insurance. The product, called J.E.M. Guard, is delivered through a mobile interface called LoanSkout. Atikus' on-the-ground underwriting process will be operated entirely on mobile tablet devices.

The goal is to help banks worldwide mitigate risk so they will extend a greater number of loans to underserved entrepreneurs in developing countries. It estimates that the size of the credit market for this type of product is more than $2 trillion.

BreezoMeter
STR | AFP | Getty Images

Haifa, Israel
Ziv Lautman

BreezoMeter is changing the way people interact with the world, by providing them with the resources needed to make informed choices about what environments they inhabit. BreezoMeter is a big-data analytics platform that allows the gathering of data from thousands of air-monitoring sensors worldwide and provides a real-time location-based map of air-pollution levels at the street level.

BreezoMeter uses a unique algorithm (cutting-edge air-pollution dispersion models and analytics) that understands how air pollution disperses through time and space in real time. Therefore, users can plan daily activities (i.e. running routes), track air quality wherever they are and get real-time air-pollution notifications for important locations together with personalized health recommendations.

Colorblind Design
Colorblind design

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Adis Ozuna

Colorblind Design is a company dedicated to architectural design and specialized construction of spaces for people with any sort of disability. Services range from architectural design consultation, planning spaces and supervision to constructing the necessary infrastructure for people with disabilities. Colorblind Design seeks to capture a niche market with great potential by presenting space solutions to better enable people with disabilities.

Driven Analytics
Driven Analytics

Moore, Oklahoma, USA
Stephen Soroosh

Driven Analytics uses connected car technology to better target car owners on behalf of dealerships, all the while reducing the anxiety associated with routine car maintenance for drivers. Using advanced algorithms and a data transmission device installed on new cars by the dealership, Driven Analytics provides a marketing platform that allows dealers to advertise maintenance services to their customers exactly when they need them.

Once a vehicle is sold, Driven Analytics monitors the vehicle's systems and provides the car owner with actionable maintenance information via a smartphone app, text or email. Information includes details about the needed service, as well as discounts and coupons based on their needs. Coupons are designed to bring customers back to the car dealership that sold them their car, increasing customer retention for the dealership and ultimately leading to future sales.

Efiester
Efiester | Facebook

Paris, France
Robert Harfouche

Efiester is a connected social networking Web platform providing innovative services that facilitate the organization of parties and any kind of festive event. Efiester simplifies managing invitations, effectively handles cost-sharing among participants, allows guests to see what has already been ordered, frees the party host from having to collect money, as guests can contribute online, and offers delivery service, which eliminates the need for party-supply shopping trips.

Furthermore, through a partnership with Track.tl, participants are able to create a party playlist, which allows them to access the music libraries of Deezer, Soundcloud and Spotify.

FasTouch
Maria Teijeiro | OJO Images | Getty Images

Amirim, Israel
Lena Levin

The FasTouch fixation system is intended for fixation of prosthetic material to soft tissues in various minimally invasive and open surgical procedures, such as hernia repairs. FasTouch delivers uniquely designed suture-like fasteners that mimic traditional sutures by providing a closed and locked fixation loop around the mesh and the tissue. It provides fixation strength while minimizing the amount of implanted foreign body.

FasTouch has been designed to provide the surgeon with a tool to assist with standard of care procedures while adapting the suture-like tacks during the operation, based on individual characteristics of the patent, to be compatible with standard laparoscopic instrumentation and to be incorporated side by side with the techniques currently employed.

Genios en Linea
Catherine Yeulet | iStock / 360 | Getty Images

Monterrey, Mexico
Gabriela Mejia

Genios en Linea is an online platform that offers online tutoring for kids to assist with homework, aid in exam study and provide extra lessons between a certified community of tutors. With Genios en Linea, parents can choose the plan that best fits their kids' needs and get connected with a certified community of tutors in real time.

Each session is a one-on-one real-time video conference. Plus, parents get notifications on their mobiles about their kid's performance.

Guardian
Guardian

New Delhi, India
Manik Mehta

Indian tech start-up Leaf has created a device called Guardian for women who no longer feel safe in their own country. Guardian is a wearable device that works in collaboration with a live tracking mobile application. This device senses danger directed toward the owner, and it automatically sends a signal, along with the location of the victim, to the friends and family as well as to the Guardian control room.

In a matter of seconds, the system will forward the location to the police, rapid-action team and mobile application subscribers in the proximity of the woman in danger.

Hank the Beer Tank
Hank The Beer Tank

Washington, DC, USA
Sebastian Ehreiser and Adam Koeppel

Hank the Beer Tank is a beer-tech start-up that has created a patent-pending electric portable kegerator solution for beer drinkers. Hank was conceptualized and built to solve a problem that beer drinkers often face: how to keep freshly tapped beer cold and pressurized, both while at home and on the go at festivals, camping, the beach, tailgating and on the boat.

It utilizes a superefficient inverter-controlled compressor, power electronics and a digital control unit and is roughly half the size of most kegerators on the market.

High Touch Courses
Anyaberkut | Getty Images

Orono, Maine, USA
Elizabeth Chabe

High Touch Courses is an online course system that utilizes gamification and provides on-demand education for the price of a Netflix subscription. It aims to disrupt the traditional four-year degree system for certain areas of study (e.g., computer science, video game development, etc.), aiming to solve the student debt crisis and create more talented, technically-trained citizens to enter the workforce.

Infoudio
InfoAudio

Cairo, Egypt
Mostafa Raafat

Infoudio is a crowd-sourced educational platform where anyone can record and listen to audio cards. Think of Infoudio as the intersection between Wikipedia and SoundCloud. Its vision is to create a platform where the world's knowledge is recorded in audio format, in different languages and available to everyone for free.

Choosing audio instead of video makes it easier for people to create cards, as they do not need a camera, only a microphone. Also, audio takes much less bandwidth, which in turn allows the audio cards to be available to people with slow Internet connections.

InfraSonic Monitoring
Infrasonic Monitoring

Vestal, New York, USA
Ohad BarSimanTov

InfraSonic Monitoring is a technology capable of providing non-invasive, continuous assessment of cardiac output suitable for consumer use. Cardiac output is the single most important physiologic assessment that can be obtained from a person. However, the current usage rate for cardiac monitoring is below 1 percent for people who could benefit from such monitoring.

InfraSonic Monitoring provides clients with real-time beat-to-beat cardiac-output monitoring, allowing clients to track their health, physical condition, energy expenditure, influence of medication or food intake and much more. The goal is to achieve an ease of cardiac monitoring similar to that which has been achieved for serum glucose monitoring. Now what once was available only in hospital or research settings will be available to the entire community.

Island Water Technologies
Island Water Technology

Montague, Canada
Patrick Kiely

Island Water Technologies is a Prince Edward Island–based company specializing in modular renewably-powered wastewater treatment. Partnered with Aspin Kemp and Associates, Island Water Technologies provides off-the-grid wastewater treatment solutions for domestic and industrial waste. De-centralized wastewater treatment solutions offer the potential to significantly reduce the cost and energetic input; however, current solutions are either ineffective or expensive.

Integrating solar power with advanced wastewater treatment technologies, the company's system improves process control and remote automation to improve efficiency.

NOVUS
jian wan | E+ | Getty Images

Hong Kong, China
Kenneth Lai

NOVUS is a biotech start-up that makes bone substitute products that can be used in orthopedics and maxillofacial surgery. Traditional filler biomaterials have high viscosity and require wider needle gauges, which lengthen healing time.

NOVUS aims to fill a market gap with its technology by providing highly injectable biomaterial needed for minimal invasive surgical procedures. The company estimates that the potential market for its product is huge. A recent ResearchMoz report projected that the orthobiologics market will surpass $5.5 billion globally by 2019.

Peerless Wind Systems
Peerless Wind Systems

Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
Jay Moskowitz

An artistic yet highly energy-efficient vertical-axis wind turbine has been created out of the world of kinetic art for use in the urban environment, island nations and emerging countries, where more than 1 billion people have little or no electricity.

The patent-pending electric generator is designed as a helix and can produce energy at very low wind speeds. Its turbine drives its patent-pending electric generator to deliver more energy than turbines of similar size.

ProdermIQ
Proderm IQ

San Diego, California, USA
Dana Hosseini

ProdermIQ has been created to help people understand the science of their skin. Thanks to advances in DNA sequencing technology, the company is working to develop a skin health measurement analytical tool that can be used by consumers and physicians. Now in beta stage, the company has created a database to provide a SKINdex skin health measurement score. The score compares an individual's unique microbial composition to the overall healthy population.

Consumers want healthy, beautiful skin, and more want more information on skin-care ingredients to support their purchasing decisions. ProdermIQ takes the guesswork out of the purchasing decision by providing a skin health status at initial testing and then allowing consumers to monitor their skin health after trialing a product.

Rumie
Rumie

Toronto, Canada
Allison Kavanagh

Rumie is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing free digital educational content to children in isolated or underserved communities. Through its initiative, Rumie is providing them with $50 tablets that require only limited power and no Internet. Content comes from the Rumie LearnCloud, which will soon be the largest existing repository of free digital educational content.

VoiceBoxer
VoiceBoxer

Copenhagen, Denmark
Andrea Baccenetti

VoiceBoxer is a multilingual Web presentation service that helps presentations reach audiences anywhere in any language. VoiceBoxer allows a presenter to give a presentation in their native language from the comfort and privacy of an office to a multilingual audience around the world, using simultaneous interpreters that remotely translate the speech from the presenter to the audience.

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