CNBC unveils its annual list of 100 promising start-ups to watch

The Upstart 100 is CNBC's exclusive list of promising young start-ups, featuring a diverse group of companies that are building brands and breaking industry barriers on the path to becoming tomorrow's household names. Selected from more than 500 nominees, each one was scored on eight equally weighted quantitative metrics (read more about our methodology here).

While there's always focus on the billion-dollar-plus unicorns, there is now increasingly more investment activity taking place among younger start-ups. Venture capitalists poured a record $11.5 billion into early stage companies in the second quarter of 2018, according to PitchBook, while the average deal size reached a 10-year high of $18 million. Many companies that received some of that funding have made it onto this list.

The companies that made this year's Upstart 100 list represent nearly every sector of the economy, from enterprise software and finance to insurance, health care and retail. They come from nine different countries and 13 U.S. states, and 19 of the 100 are led by women. All of them are less than five years old, but 28 are less than three years old and six were founded just last year.

And all of the 100 companies on the list have quickly become entrepreneurial success stories worth keeping an eye on.

2018 Upstart100 List

6 River
Autonomous warehouse robots that work alongside humans Waltham, MA 2015
Predictive analytics to help marketers generate new leads San Francisco 2013
Smart glasses connected to human agents offering real-time help to the visually impaired San Diego 2015
Apptimize Testing platform for iPhone and Android app developers San Francisco 2013
AREVO 3-D printing process designed to speed production Santa Clara, CA 2013
ATTN: A new media company for younger generations, backed by Ryan Seacrest Los Angeles 2014
AvidBots Commercial-scale, self-driving, floor-cleaning robots Kitchener, Ontario 2014
Axios* D.C.-based media company producing political, business and technology content Arlington, VA 2017
Blockstack New internet structure for decentralized apps New York 2013
E-commerce platform that gives merchants direct access to Chinese shoppers Sunnyvale, CA 2014
Bulletin A way for digital brands to get shelf space in physical stores New York 2015
A digital health app and AI-based diagnosis assistant Boston 2014
Candid Direct-to-consumer orthodontic products New York 2017
Fertility-benefits provider for employers San Francisco 2016
Clarifai Artificial intelligence focused on visual recognition New York 2013
Clearcover Mobile-app-based car insurance platform Chicago 2016
Clobotics Big data for the wind energy and retail sector Seattle 2016
Cloudleaf Internet of Things for global supply chains Milpitas, CA 2014
On-demand delivery technology for grocery retailers Israel 2015
CoverWallet Online small-business insurance platform New York 2015
Curology Personalized acne care delivered via online consultations San Francisco 2014 An enterprise platform for building, sharing and discussing data across teams Austin 2016
A big-data mapping service for construction, agriculture and energy Santa Fe, NM 2014
DocSynk Data analytics for health-care practices Irving, TX 2015
EarnUp Personal finance tool for debt management San Francisco 2014
Electric Outsourced IT solution for small business New York 2016
Ethos A life insurance start-up with celebrity backers, including Jay Z's Roc Nation San Francisco 2016
Excelero Israeli-founded data-storage company San Jose, CA 2014
Farmobile A marketplace for farmers to sell their data Leawood, KS 2014
On-demand autonomous mobile robots for warehousing and logistics San Jose, CA 2014
Finery A digital organizer and curator for your closet New York 2016
Flow An e-commerce platform for cross-border sales Hoboken, NJ 2015
Flytrex Autonomous last-mile drone delivery Israel 2014
FreightWaves Data analytics and risk management for the transportation and logistics industries Chattanooga, TN 2016
Geltor Synthetic biology working towards a vegan gelatin replacement San Leandro, CA 2015
Beauty products line based on South Korean skincare formulas New York 2014
HabitNu Digital program designed for diabetes management Chicago 2014
Handshake Career recruiting platform for college students and universities San Francisco 2013
Havenly Online platform for interior design consultation Denver 2014
HeadSpin Cloud-based app developer management tool Palo Alto, CA 2015
Heptio Open-source enterprise platform service Seattle 2016
Hive Productivity and collaboration platform for the workplace New York 2016
HubHaus Shared-housing communities designed for professionals San Franciso 2016
Hypergiant Customized artificial intelligence for corporate brands, backed by Tony Robbins Austin 2017
Iguazio Big-data firm from Israel, backed by Dell and Verizon Israel 2014
Cybersecurity firm that grew out of Israeli Defense Forces, backed by Cisco and Microsoft New York 2014
Immuta Management platform for big data College Park, MD 2014
Inspire Renewable-energy tech company focused on the smart home market, backed by Shell Santa Monica, CA 2014
iUNU Data management and analysis for commercial-scale greenhouses Seattle 2013
JASK AI-driven automation for security operations, protecting companies against cyberattacks Austin 2015
Kano A DIY computer-building and coding company backed by Sesame Street's venture fund London 2013
Keeps Health-care company focused on male pattern baldness prevention and treatment New York 2017
KIDBOX Curated clothing subscription service for children New York 2016
Lovepop 3-D pop-up greeting cards manufacturer backed by Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary Boston 2014
Mobile media company behind social polling, trivia and microstorytelling apps Santa Monica, CA 2015
Mapillary Computer-vision technology for street-level digital mapping Malmš, Sweden 2013
MealPal Subscription lunch plan that works with local restaurants New York 2016
Modsy* Online interior design service with 3-D visualization San Francisco 2015
Namogoo AdTech helping e-commerce brands block competitor promotions Boston 2014
Narrativ Works with publishers of product review sites to drive sales New York 2015
An insurance company rivaling the federal flood insurance program St Petersburg, FL 2016
Cross-border credit-reporting agency for immigrant consumers San Francisco 2016
Nurx Telemedicine platform focused on birth control and HIV prevention San Francisco 2015
OhmConnect Energy-sharing platform that incentivizes users to reduce electricity consumption San Francisco 2013
Opkix Compact, wearable smart cameras with companion editing and sharing app Costa Mesa, CA 2016
Optibus Artificial intelligence to improve mass transit, used by more than 300 cities Israel 2014
Otonomo Automotive data platform that delivers apps and services to drivers Israel 2015
PayStand Blockchain-based B2B billing and payments service Scotts Valley, CA 2013
PerimeterX Cybersecurity firm that detects difference between human users and malicious bot attacks San Mateo, CA 2014
Primer AI and natural-language processing technology that can analyze data across languages San Francisco 2015
prooV Testing platform for companies to try new enterprise software solutions Israel 2015
quip Electric toothbrush and dental-care service provider New York 2014
RDMD R&D service analyzing patient medical records to help drug companies develop rare-disease treatments San Francisco 2017
Relola Location-based social media app used in real estate, political and nonprofit sector Emeryville, CA 2015
RigUp Oil and gas industry platform for sourcing contractors and service providers Austin 2014
Rubikloud Machine-learning platform focused on retailer pricing, promotion and loyalty Toronto 2013
SafeBreach Cybersecurity firm that uses hacker techniques inside a network to detect flaws Sunnyvale, CA 2014
Scale Provider of data tools for companies working on AI solutions, including self-driving efforts at Lyft and Cruise San Francisco 2016
SciBac Microbe drugs that treat and prevent antibiotic-resistant diseases Burlingame, CA 2015
Blockchain technology firm that offers marketplace where users can buy and sell digital assets Zug, Switzerland 2014
Fraud-detection technology designed for insurance industry Paris 2014
SigOpt Workflow optimization technology San Francisco 2014
Solv Mobile app for booking same-day doctor appointments San Francisco 2016
SPORTLOGiQ Sports analytics firm selling data to teams and the media Montreal 2015
Starcity Firm that converts commerical property into co-living residential buildings San Francisco 2016
Strivr VR training technology for workforces and athletes, backed by the NFL and BMW Menlo Park, CA 2015
SURE Digital insurance platform covering a variety of policies, from renters to travel, pets and jewelry New York 2014
Direct-to-consumer women's luxury footwear Los Angeles 2016
Textio Analytics technology used by employers to improve job posts and recruiting emails Seattle 2014
TheGuarantors Insurance products for the residential real estate rental market New York 2014
ThirdLove E-commerce lingerie brand focused on personalized sizing San Francisco 2013
tilr Job market search tool matching employers and candidates Cincinnati 2015
Television advertising technology tool to monitor viewer attention span New York 2015
Application performance management for AI, Internet of Things and other data-heavy apps Palo Alto, CA 2013
VAYAVISION Aggregated system of sensoring technologies for autonomous vehicles Israel 2016
Veem B2B cross-border wire-transfer and payment system based on the blockchain San Francisco 2014
Factory robots designed to minimize risk of working alongside humans Waltham, MA 2016
Verifly On-demand job insurance for contractors and freelancers New York 2015
Viome Genetic sequencing and analysis of the microbiome targeting chronic-disease prevention Bellevue, WA 2016
Xendit Payments technology for e-commerce and peer-to-peer lending in Southeast Asian market Jakarta, Indonesia 2015
*Disclosure: NBCUniversal is an investor in Axios. CNBC parent Comcast is an investor in Modsy.

Latest Special Reports

  • CNBC Changemakers

    CNBC Changemakers: Women Transforming Business is an annual list spotlighting women whose accomplishments have left an indelible mark on the business world.

  • A look at 50 private companies set to reshape the business landscape.

  • Automation, AI and machine learning will radically influence the relationship between employers and their workforce.


Business News