06.28.11

Startup Investment Portfolio Game

I read about technology news and startups fairly regularly and often find myself saying “man, I wish I could invest in them”. I thought it would be a fairly fun exercise to compile a list of companies I’m excited about now and look back on them in the future. For the past few months I’ve been maintaining a Google Spreadsheet of startups I would invest in if I could. If I had money to invest in private companies, these are the ones I would look to get involved with. Last Updated: 10/22/2014

Company View Notes Date Pre-Investments
3D Robotics 2/10/2014 $35m
Leader in consumer oriented drone technology, which will be a huge market as drones become more pervasive.
AnyVivo 5/8/2012 $20k
Tackling just about the only e-commerce vertical Amazon won’t touch – which also happens to be a $40b industry: pets. Plus, jellyfish (their first niche) are wicked cool.
Airware 3/26/2013 $100k
Marketplace and platform for unmanned arial vehicles, or “Drones”. Automated hardware, some of which will be mobile, will shape the future and create many billion dollar industries.
Ark 3/25/2012 $250k
Facebook and Google are inherently incentivized not to build this product themselves. A lot like Greplin in that it allows searching private “locked” data, but this is very well fine-tuned for people.
Authy 11/28/2012 $170k
Twilio for 2-Factor Authentication. Team has lots of experience and knows how to scale this.
Automatic 3/12/2013 $100k
Vastly improves the most expensive computer you own: your car. Lots of lucrative plays for enterprise/fleet customers with many established potential exits.
BackType 4/10/2011 $1.32m
Incredible team of “Big Data” engineers. Solving interesting problem of optimizing marketing around social media data.
BankSimple 4/10/2011 $3.09m
Online banking is absolutely awful. Policies and answering basic financial questions are way too complicated for the average consumer. Industry is ripe for disruption.
BitCasa 9/18/2011 $1.3m
Eventually local storage will be indistinguishable from data stored remotely (“in the cloud”). A solution like this will be how this is accomplished.
BitPay 1/13/2014 $2.55m
BitPay is well poised to be very large embedded players in the online BitCoin payments market, which doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Breathable Foods (Aeroshot) 10/23/2011 unknown
Energy drinks are expected to be a $45b+ market in 2014. The Aeroshot is an innovative pure caffein inhaler. Coffee drinkers rejoice.
Card.io 6/23/2011 $1m
“Square without the reader”.
CardSpring 4/17/2012 $10m
“Closing the redemption loop” is something a lot of companies with big pockets are trying to do. CardSpring has somehow figured out how to expose a developer friendly service that connects credit card numbers to actual purchase data.
Chartbeat 7/29/2011 $3m
Leading the space in real-time analytics. Newsbeat should be a huge hit with publishers.
Coinbase 2/28/2014 $31.7m
Virtual Currency is here to stay, and Coinbase looks to be the trusted marketplace that will make this (trillion dollar[!!?]) industry happen for the masses.
CoTap 5/29/2013 $5m
“WhatsApp for Business.” Like Yammer, this will be a ~$1b exit.
Couchbase 4/10/2011 $10m
Innovative marriage of NoSQL and RDBMS database systems. Memcached is Everywhere.
CloudApp 5/9/2011 unknown
Love this product. Well built and designed. No clue if the business model works, but it’s almost identical to Dropbox.
Cloudera 4/10/2011 $36m
Forefront of “Big Data” trend and generally regarded as the leader in commercially available Apache Hadoop. Disclaimer: I was previously an intern and built their website.
CloudFlare 6/21/2011 $2.05m
Will eventually be the security and performance backbone of the internet. Already processing 15% of all internet traffic. Would give left nut to invest.
Curebit 8/14/2011 $170k
Injecting themselves into the online commerce feedback loop and creating tools to increase virality sounds like a win to me. Team’s also demonstrated that they’ve done it before.
Diffbot 5/31/2012 $2m
Very versatile crawling/parsing api that, as a developer, i know is in high demand.
DITTO 2/11/2013 $3m
Incredible technology that remedies the number one problem with buying clothes online: will it fit?
Dr. Chrono 5/4/2011 $20k (YC)
One of many potential home-runs in healthcare. Lots of money at stake with digitizing medical records.
DropBox 4/10/2011 $7.2m
Love this product and so do the majority of its 25m users.
DuckDuckGo 4/18/2011 $0
Creating a search engine is probably the hardest thing to do successfully, but DDG could have a prayer with its privacy-conscious approach.
Dwolla 11/15/2011 $1.31m
Online equivalent to cash that maximizes network effects and doesn’t have interchange fees. $$$$$$
eShares 1/28/2014 $1.8m
Stock Option granting is stuck in the paper world. There is a lot of value in a simple management platform that digitizes private company stock options.
Estimote 8/22/2013 ~$1m (YC)
The vision for “An OS for the Physical World” is so ambitious it’s scary. As data collection grows exponentially, Estimote-like sensors will increasingly provide more data to shape retail and consumer experiences.
Expect Labs (MindMeld) 9/11/2012 $0
This could change the way people have conversations digitally. Impressive technology of predictive named entity recognition that could be applied to a variety of other platforms.
Fab.com 2/1/2011 $625k
Incredibly brandable domain name. Love the concept and execution so far.
Fav.tv 7/22/2011 $0
World-class design. People are addicted to tv.
Findery (formerly PinWheel) 2/16/2012 $2m
Annotate the world. A service like this couldn’t have existed before smartphone proliferation, and it seems to be the perfect mix between FourSquare and Pinterest.
Foursquare 6/21/2011 $21m
Could be the company that fully unlocks the power of mobile + local offline commerce.
Fundable 7/31/2012 ~$500k
A local Columbus company that could make waves in how technology companies get financed via equity – well timed current legislation being passed. Team is extremely talented.
GenomeCompiler 8/7/2012 ~$1m
A compiler for creating living things. We have programming languages to abstract computer language, this is a compiler for the language of living organisms, the genome. Video.
GitHub 4/10/2011 $0
Database of the worlds most prominent open-source programmers and the projects they’re creating. “Engineering talent crunch”
Greplin 4/10/2011 $4.72m
Solving the “Other half of search”. Don’t know if people have the problem of knowing where some piece of information is in their private web frequently enough for Greplin to matter, but the product/team are ripe for acq-hire.
Grouper 9/20/2012 $170k
Super unique approach to group dating that takes the hush-hush stigma out of finding someone online. Growing nationally quickly.
Gumroad 9/5/2011 $8.1m
A bit late on this given it’s likely previous investment valuation, but I still think there’s enough upside for this, and traffic is really starting to take off.
Hall 2/7/2013 $570k
Extremely well built Enterprise productivity suite. The main advantage is the desktop/mobile apps which appear to be built to remain lean and fast. This will be a very large Yammer-esque exit.
Hinge 2/28/2014 $5.25m
I think this app finally nailed the mobile app dating equation. I expect this to explode in popularity once they fix the messaging kinks and are available everywhere.
Hipmunk 4/10/2011 $5.22m
They started with flight search, which is pretty well done and has fans, but if they can solve the awful experience of finding a hotel they will print money.
Humanoid 11/02/2011 $600k
Bringing an API to outsourced brainpower.
IFTTT 8/09/2011 $0
Super impressive backend, can tell the product will get easier to use (maybe featured tasks in a gallery?) over time. Lots of creative and helpful uses.
InDinero 4/10/2011 $1.22m
“Mint.com for small business”. Collecting an incredibly valuable dataset and will be able to do for businesses what Mint did for consumers. Also, Jessica Mah rocks.
Kiip.me 4/10/2011 $4.3m
Banner ads in games suck. The concept of turning achievements into rewards is really compelling, and their team is stacked to do it.
Kontagent 4/10/2011 $5.5m
From what I’ve seen, the leading analytics provider on the Facebook platform. Huge acquisition play.
Lawdingo 3/26/2013 $100k
Marketplace bringing efficiency to finding qualified legal services
Leap Motion 7/11/2012 $14.1m
This is an incredibly transformative improvement to human-computer interaction with insane opportunity to revolutionize gaming and healthcare (among other industries). Can’t believe the $70 price-point as well.
LifeSupport 12/13/2012 ~$200k
Impressive team of networkers, designers, and hustlers. Currently focused on Columbus, but poised for national growth. Everyone hates hangovers.
Liftopia 10/19/2011 $3m
Huge market. I love skiing. Win for resorts: reduces risk of volatile weather conditions. Win for users: cheaper lift tickets.
MakerBot 1/13/2012 $10m
My singularity dreading inner luddite loves to fear a company like this. (Read the Wikipedia article on Grey goo).
Mattermark 7/26/2013 $1.5m
No brainer buy for every VC out there who, by nature, are very accessible. Can eventually scale to Angels with more geographic focus/restriction to truly become an operating system for private investors.
Matternet 3/22/2013 $2m
Delivery will be the “sexiest” application for drones, but their impacts will be far more pronounced in other industries, like agriculture and aid second/third world countries.
MediaLets 4/10/2011 $10m
I hate advertising, but MediaLets’ approach with rich-media advertising is the lesser of many evils. Team knows what they’re doing.
Meldium 2/25/2013 $100k
Solving a real problem of Enterprise password management that companies will pay for to simplify. Solid technical team from Amazon and Microsoft.
MemCachier 9/5/2012 $0
Technically sound pre-funding team. Huge space to disrupt, and open-source memcached is the gorilla in the room.
Milk 10/19/2011 $1.5m
Kevin Rose has seen the whole spectrum of the dos and don’ts with running a startup between Digg and companies he’s angel invested in. I expect him to take this corpus of experience and build something meaningful; Oink looks like a great start.
MinoMonsters 12/04/2011 $1.17m
This game isn’t out yet, but I’ve used a beta version from their iOS developer and it’s like crack. The game mechanics used here are insane. This could be on the same level of Angry Birds in terms of popularity.
MicroBlink 10/22/2014 $0
Computer Vision technologies are hard to develop (valuable IP) and will open up a floodgate of potential new mobile, financial, surveillance, security, and logistics applications.
MixRank 8/23/2011 $170k
Optimized PPC campaigns on Adsense. No brainer team/product acquisition for Google.
MobileWorks 8/13/2011 $170k
Mechanical Turk is great, but result quality is questionably reliable. This approach is extremely well thought out and solves a very interesting and potentially lucrative problem.
MongoHQ 8/23/2011 $417k
MongoDB is one of the leaders in the NoSQL space and MongoHQ has built a platform growing very rapidly in revenue and distribution.
Moov 2/28/2014 $0
Ex-Apple employees have figured out how to intelligently expose accelerometer data into a Siri-like personal assistant. A lot more powerful than existing products.
Muzy 11/04/2012 $0
Haven’t seen anything reported of funding, but this app has nailed the Open Graph and is exploding. Another different-kind-of-sharing pinterest-like app, but can’t argue with growth.
Nest Labs 10/25/2011 unknown
Home automation will play a significant part in energy use reduction and economic efficiency. Nest, tackling the often-looked-over thermostat, is in a great position to do well.
Offermatic 9/29/2011 $4.5m
Closing the redemption loop in offline (in addition to online) commerce. Yodlee is destroying their margins, but this is a huge opportunity.
One 8/03/2011 $1m
Solving a super fascinating problem of location-relevant interest matching. Could be transformative.
Optimizely 4/10/2011 $1.2m
A/B testing might be a buzzword, but it’s still incredibly powerful. From using their product, they make running campaigns dead simple. Acquisition target.
Outbox 2/26/2013 $2.2m
Bringing change to a bloated $900b industry (postal mail) – sounds like a huge win.
PageLever 8/03/2011 $20k
Significantly improves upon a very minimal Facebook Page Insights product. Well built with and has a clear business model where customers have deep pockets.
Path 11/30/2011 $11.2m
Version 2 of Path makes Google’s previous $100m+ acquisition offer denial look prescient. This is where mobile social networks are headed.
Piada 11/19/2011 unknown
Irrespective of the fact that this is a restaurant that’s only current located in Columbus, Ohio, this is destined to be the next Chipotle.
Pocket Gems 6/28/2011 $5m
Extremely successful independent mobile social gaming company. Backed by Sequoia. No-brainer acquisition for EA or Zynga.
Pinterest 7/01/2011 $700k
Traffic has exploded in 2011. Growing a huge community of people and a database of things they think are cool. Feels like early days of Tumblr.
Pusher 6/9/2011 $1m
“Realtime application as a service”. Love the concept, execution is solid, and the team is riding the giant transition to a more interactive and immediate web experience.
Quora 5/17/2011 $11m
Definitely a bit too much buzz given their founding team, but if they can effectively get away from the current tech/startup focus into more “normal” topics, they’ll have a goldmine of data/users.
Recurly 4/10/2011 $1.6m
Implementing payment solutions sucks. Recurly makes subscription billing simple and beautiful.
RethinkDB 4/10/2011 $1.22m
Eventually hard-drives will be solid state, and RethinkDB is poised to lead the field. Until that happens, they’re refocusing on optimizing existing HD solutions.
RightScale 5/4/2011 $42.5m
I have no idea why this isn’t built right into Amazon’s Cloud services because managing EC2 clusters manually is awful.
SnapGuide 3/29/2012 $2m
Mobile how-to guides wherever you need them. Extremely well thought out product and will be a mainstay on a lot of users’ phones.
Shopify 4/18/2011 $7m
Growing like a weed. No-brainer acquisition by eBay or Amazon.
Shopkick 6/22/2011 $20m
Incredible early adoption from merchants like Best Buy. Love the product and approach.
Shortmail (410 Labs) 7/02/2011 $0
Everyone uses email, but a few rotten users ruin the experience for everyone. Tying accounts to a social authentication system and placing Twitter-like length restrictions may be the cure.
SigFig 7/2/2012 $2m
Mint.com for Investments. Clear acquisition for Intuit or wealth management companies which literally and figuratively print money.
SimpleGEO 4/10/2011 $9.81m
Being the location backbone of the web has a lot of potential. Killer team.
SimpleLegal 8/6/2013 $170k (YC)
Big Data meets convoluted legal fees.
SnipSnap 5/29/2012 $555k
Paper Coupons will get replaced by *something* in the digital era. This looks like an interesting proprietary technology that will work with existing coupons on a phone.
Solve Media 4/29/2011 $4m
Captchas are annoying and command our scarce attention for an otherwise valuable period of time. This approach is equally annoying for consumers, but at least it makes publishers and advertisers money.
Square 4/10/2011 $37.5m
Couldn’t be a more lucrative market to disrupt, and Square has all the right pieces in place.
Storenvy 6/21/2011 $1.53m
Similar approach to Payvment, but a more Amazon-like approach with a central website (which is more in tune with how consumers currently shop).
Stripe 4/10/2011 $2m
I don’t think any merchants or developers wake up saying “man, I can’t wait to use work with Paypal today”. Stripe has a solid team and solid mission of remedying an otherwise excruciating experience.
Sunglass.io 5/23/2011 $0
Software eats architecture.
Svbtle 7/24/2012 $0
This might appear to be just another blogging service, but something tells me Dustin Curtis has his finger right on the head of the future of quality news production and consumption, albeit it’s limited to technology-oriented writers now.
Swiftype 5/8/2012 $170k
Site search is something that is an absolute pain to implement and is something almost every company wants to outsource. Google site search is a very mediocre solution and leaves most developers wanting more – this just may be it.
Tagstand 8/19/2011 $170k
NFC will change the way technology interacts the real world. It’s a far ways out, but the companies who will be relevant tomorrow will have started today.
Thalmic Labs 2/25/2013 $1.1m
Impressive gesture control for the wearable computing devices that are about to explode in popularity. Very cool use cases with gaming and sports – definitely getting acquired.
TwoTap 3/26/2014 $90k (YC)
Bringing a full commerce checkout ad experience into native applications as a platform. Seems smart and like a solid acquisition play for dozens of companies/platforms/brands.
Tinder 1/24/2013 $0
This is gaining huge traction on campuses and will definitely get more public attention later this year.
Turntable.fm (Stickybits) 6/21/2011 $1.9m
I don’t know if the transition from Stickybits to Turntable could be classified as a pivot.. more like a complete redux. Regardless, I’m addicted to Turntable. That being said, online music startups are notoriously hard to succeed with. I just want a custom avatar.
Twilio 4/10/2011 $16m
Have seen their traffic skyrocket after reducing SMS costs. They simplify an extremely painful process of manually building out an SMS solution as all previous ways require convoluted APIs or custom software.
URX 10/8/2013 ~$2m
Smart product that natively deep links high-value product purchases in the right place. It’s a new category of mobile ad, but if it works it could be hugely valuable.
Walker & Co 12/18/2013 $2.4m
Addresses a quickly growing segment in one of the largest markets on earth, Health and Beauty. Traditional CPG companies are behind the eight ball on this one, and a strong branding play will make all the difference in an upstart taking mass market share.
Warby Parker 12/19/2011 $13.5m
“Zappos for prescription eyewear”. No reason to go into LensCrafters if you can try it on and return for free.
Withings 9/17/2011 $4.13m
Huge opportunity to capitalize augmenting smartphones with peripheral devices. Their approach with virality around health products (auto-tweeting) is sick.
Zaarly 5/15/2011 $1m
If this reaches critical mass, it will change the world. Incredibly designed and fascinating story behind its launch.
Zapier 6/20/2012 $170k
This ties into many more business oriented services that IFTTT doesn’t and will undoubtedly get a lot of people/businesses paying for their (albeit expensive) premium plans
107 Companies Last Updated: 10/22/2014

Companies with a star next to them are once I’m exceptionally bullish on given their current capital intake, likely valuation, and liquidation opportunity. All fundraising numbers (listed under pre-investments column) were obtained via Crunchbase and are meant to indicate the amount of outside capital put into the companies before the date listed. To simulate a real-world investing scenario, I will be adding (and not removing) companies on an ongoing basis. Feel free to correct any mistakes, point out companies you think are exciting, or provide any feedback.

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