5. Uptake Technologies

Capturing Warren Buffett's billionaire energy

Founders: Brad Keywell (CEO), Eric Lefkofsky
Launched: 2014
Funding: $146 million
Valuation: $2.09 billion (PitchBook)
Disrupting: SaaS, Software
Rival: GE

George Kavallines

This Chicago-based company, co-founded in 2014 by Brad Keywell — one of the people who started Groupon — develops analytic software that helps predict and prevent failures and increase efficiencies across a broad range of industries, including railroads, health care and infrastructure.

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Rather than rely on human beings to spot potential trouble spots, Keywell says his software uses predictive insight to discern a system failure or potential inefficiency. It does this by analyzing the data coming off of sensors on industrial machinery and equipment.

A sign that the company's technology is gaining some traction: It recently signed a deal with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy, an $84 billion portfolio of companies mainly in the renewable-energy section. Two of that company's subsidiaries will use Uptake's software to increase the productivity of their fleet of wind turbines.

The company has a social mission as well. Through its civic innovation arm, Beyond, its analytics platform will soon be used by nonprofits in Nepal focused on identifying people lost to human trafficking.

The company has raised $146 million from venture firms, such as Revolution and GreatPoint Ventures.

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