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15 Most Exciting & Interesting Startups of 2017

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Image of a startup entrepreneur working with code on two computer screens

We’re now halfway through 2017, and fast approaching the height of the startup awards season, when a host of new businesses will compete to be named the best in their industry.

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As always, there’s a huge number of innovative companies to choose from – startups in tech, entertainment, health, food, energy, retail and many, many more. And while many seem set for success, some are definitely more eye-catching than others.

So in this post, we’ll take a look at 15 of the most fascinating and exciting startups to keep an eye on, throughout the rest of 2017 and beyond.

Title graphic: 'Most Interesting and Exciting Startups 2017'

The 15 Most Exciting & Interesting Startups 2017

When choosing our list, we’ve tried to focus on the startups with the most interesting concepts and products (working today, and launched within the last few years) not just those who look poised to make the most money:

1. We Farm
2. Bulb
3. Jukedeck
4. what3words
5. Monzo
6. Not Dogs
7. EyeVerify
8. Colony
9. Edyn
10. LEIA
11. Flight Club
12. Lobster
13. Siberri
14. University Cribs
15. PROWLER.io

 

Read on to find out which one is perfecting Star Wars technology, and which one might have you drinking trees…

 

1. WeFarm

Team members of startup peer-to-peer service WeFarm

While alternative messaging services like WhatsApp continue to grow and grow, WeFarm have been busy innovating with good, old-fashioned text messages.

Launching in 2015, the peer-to-peer ‘knowledge sharing’ platform uses SMS to allow farmers in remote, rural areas around the globe to share information with each other without internet access.

Commendably, the service is completely free, giving thousands of farmers access to crowd-sourced advice that would otherwise have been out of their reach.

Since the launch, WeFarm has facilitated the sharing of more than 25 million messages between its users – expect that number to grow considerably in the near future.

In the news: Interview with WeFarm CEO Kenny Ewan

 

2. Bulb

Promotional image of a model wearing a branded t-shirt for energy supply startup 'Bulb'

Another startup receiving plenty of praise, Bulb is probably the closest anyone has ever come to creating a ‘cool’ energy company.

Much more than that though, this UK-based renewable energy supplier claims it can significantly reduce anyone’s energy bills – by using tech-fueled processes that are much more efficient than those of its larger competitors.

Bulb is the brainchild of two former energy traders, Amit Gudka and Hayden Wood, who say they were sick of the poor customer service offered by the big providers. If they can continue to offer people savings like this, they could be changing that status quo themselves.

In the news: Bulb’s renewable energy startup could save you hundreds of pounds

 

3. Jukedeck

Promotional image featuring the logo of tech startup Jukedeck, against a background of a DJ playing decks

For all of the exciting advances in artificial intelligence (more on that later), not many tech companies would think to teach computers to create art.

Enter Jukedeck founder Ed Rex, who has made it his mission to perfect the art of machine-generated music – which already existed but was, to put it mildly, far from perfect.

The big implication for businesses and entrepreneurs is that it allows them to make ‘unique, royalty-free soundtracks’ for videos, or any other commercial purposes.

We’ve talked before about the massive growth of video and video marketing, so to say that Jukedeck might be on to something would be a very big understatement indeed.

In the news: Jukedeck takes computer-generated music mainstream

 

4. what3words

Demonstration of the functionality of geo-location startup what3words

planet.inches.most – if you had a thousand chances to guess what this means, you’d probably never say ‘the location of the Statue of LIberty’.

This is the bizarre genius of what3words, the geocoding system that maps the entire planet into a grid of 3m x 3m squares that are each assigned a unique address made up of 3 dictionary words.

According to the company, what this means is that everywhere on the planet now has a memorable and precise address, from homes and businesses to a specific meeting place in a park.

The possible applications of this are far too many to list here, but let’s just say that what3words could potentially have a huge impact on global navigation.

In the news: How three words could change the way we navigate the globe

 

5. Monzo

A customer of mobile banking startup Monzo making a tranaction through the Monzo app

Banking may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of interesting new businesses, but then Monzo is no normal bank.

This digital, mobile-only bank made headlines last year when it set the record for the fastest ever crowdfunding campaign, and has since grown to serve well over 200,000 customers.

That rapid growth has come at a cost, as up until very recently Monzo’s services have been limited to providing users with a pre-paid debit card that actually loses the company money.

Don’t expect the loss-making to continue forever though: in April Monzo was granted a full banking license and can now offer current accounts to its expanding customer base. If Monzo can successfully move people to current accounts and continue to grow at this rate, we’ll be looking at a very different annual report in a few years’ time.

In the news: Startup bank Monzo’s losses jump as it approaches quarter of a million customers

 

6. Not Dogs

Selection of different vegan hot dogs produced by vegetarian fast-food company Not Dogs

They’re the youngest and smallest new startup on this list, but vegetarian fast-food company Not Dogs‘ sudden popularity is definitely worth taking notice of.

Launching properly in December of 2016 after a couple of years touring festivals in a food-truck, founders Katie McDermott and Jane Yates have made it their mission to bring delicious, meat-free meals to the masses.

Their signature Quorn-based hot dogs come with a variety of distinctive toppings, including nachos, houmous, veggie tikka masala and crushed popadoms.

It seems like it’s only a matter of time before a fast food chain really capitalises on the rise of veganism and veggies – if they carry on like this, Not Dogs just might be the first healthy food chain to become a household name.

In the news: Not Dogs opens first restaurant

 

7. EyeVerify

Graphic demonstrating the functionality of EyeVerify's eye-scanning app

Fingerprint scanning may seem like it’s only just spiking in popularity, but EyeVerify think they’ve got a new biometric verification software that blows it out of the water.

The company’s’ patented Eyeprint ID works by scanning ‘micro-features’ of the eye (such as blood vessels) via the user’s smartphone camera, and boasts impressive accuracy and ease of use.

The big advantage this tech has over fingerprint and alternative forms of eye-scanning is that it doesn’t require any additional hardware – and the industry has taken note.

Bought over for $70 million in September last year and already in use at some major corporations, EyeVerify could well be coming to a smartphone near you sooner rather than later.

In the news: Alibaba Finance Arm Buys Eye-Scan Startup in First U.S. Foray

 

8. Colony

Promotional image of a Colony customer using the film-streaming service's iPad app

Colony is another astute startup that have identified a gap in the giant movie streaming market that its larger competitors seemed to miss.

Billed as the streaming service for film buffs, Colony offers its customers access not only to films, but also a wealth of bonus features, deleted scenes and other extras that seemed doomed to disappear with the waning popularity of DVD.

Film fans have responded in numbers, and the service now has paying customers in more than 100 different countries, buying and renting from its wide selection of feature-packed movie ‘bundles’.

Unsurprisingly, the company is continuing to attract investment, as wealthy backers look to take advantage of a business opportunity that the industry big-hitters ignored.

In the news: We Are Colony: Tackling the death of traditional film and abundance of content

 

9. Edyn

The last decade or so has seen people embrace smart phones, smart watches and smart TV  – but what about smart gardens?

That’s the hope of hi-tech gardening startup Edyn, who’ve come up with a state-of-the-art system that could completely change the way that people tend to their plants.

Their wireless, solar-powered sensor can be planted in the soil to constantly measure a number of environmental conditions, relaying this to your mobile via the Edyn app. The system also includes an automated valve that gives plants the exact right amount of water.

Clever, inexpensive and easy to use, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this become the number one solution for committed gardeners over the coming years.

In the news: The Wireless Garden of Edyn: Changing How Gardeners Grow Food

 

10. LEIA

Concept image of a mobile hologram display created by tech startup LEIA

Floating holograms projecting from your mobile phone, that you can touch and feel.

It might sound like the stuff of science-fiction, but this is the technology being developed by LEIA, the Silicon Valley startup trying to perfect holographic displays by making them tactile and mobile-friendly.

The technology isn’t quite there yet, but founder and CEO David Fattal thinks that we can expect to see a surge in hologram use within the next couple of years. And if it does, it’s likely that the incredible work done by his team at LEIA will have a big part to play.

In the news: Get ready for holograms in your home, car and pocket

 

11. Flight Club

Visitor at 'social darts' venue Flight Club partaking in the venue's computer-guided darts games

Flight Club have been trying to start a revolution of a completely different kind, by changing darts from a traditional pub-game into a trendy night-out activity for the younger crowd.

Visitors to the ‘social darts’ bar can enjoy darts games (as well as food and drinks) in groups of up to 390 people, with innovative technology running and scoring the games for the players.

Part of a growing trend of ‘activity bars‘, the London-based venture has welcomed more than 150,000 customers to its locations in Shoreditch and Bloomsbury since opening, and with a projected turnover of almost £9 million this year, owners Paul Barham and Steve Moore have got their eyes on expansion.

In the news: Flight Club: The trendy darts bar bringing back traditional game

 

12. Lobster

Example of the user interafce for purchasing user-generated photography via the Lobster website

At a quick glance, Lobster might look just like any other stock photo licensing website, but take a closer look and you’ll see that their service and business model is actually completely unique.

Rather than flogging generic stock pictures, Lobster have built a platform that gives businesses access to high-quality user-generated content on social media.

It’s a model that should appeal to both clients and contributors – with companies able to license more authentic visuals for promotional purposes, while normal social media users can earn money from pictures shared from their everyday lives.

The UK startup has unsurprisingly received substantial investment and, if it continues to flourish, this could be the beginning of the end of traditional stock imagery.

In the news: Lobster nets £1m to scale its user-generated content licensing marketplace

 

13. Sibberi

Promotional image of the selection of plant-based water drinks offered by health/lifestyle startup Sibberi

Drinkable tree sap: it’s the new health craze set to rival coconut water, and UK-based startup Sibberi are at the forefront.

Among the stated benefits for the company’s selection of birch, maple and bamboo waters is the fact that they contain 4x less sugar than coconut water and are naturally hydrating.

Whether Sibberi’s claims hold water or not, there’s no denying the potential for massive growth. The plant-based water industry is expected to be worth over $5 billion by 2020 – if tree water can muscle in on that market, expect Sibberi to be a big beneficiary.

In the news: Plant-based water sales expected to double by 2020


14. University Cribs

Promotional image of a student wearing a branded 'University Cribs' t-shirt

University Cribs is a student room search engine, aiming to simplify the process of finding accommodation for university-goers nationwide (and eventually worldwide).

As well as consolidating listings from all the major letting agents into one easily browse-able list, the site also allows students to book viewings and get in touch with agents.

Since launching, the online platform has gone from strength to strength and has developed a large following across social media – reaching millions on a monthly basis with its listings of more than 120,000 rooms throughout the UK.

In the news: ‘Zoopla for students’ helps university students find better accommodation

 

15. Prowler.io

Promotional graphic for advanced artificial intelligence startup, Prowler.io

Artificial intelligence is always fascinating, and some of the most exciting new developments are taking place at tech startup PROWLER.io.

Working out of their headquarters in Cambridge, the company are developing self-learning ‘agents’, capable of making autonomous decisions without the need for pre-programmed rules of behaviour.

Understandably, their progress has caught the eye of many investors, with the enterprise receiving significant backing to continue its research and development.

More than any other startup on this list, the potential implications of Prowler’s work could be absolutely colossal, and this is definitely an endeavour to keep a close eye on.

In the news: PROWLER.io raises $2M to help AI systems make smarter choices

 

Websites for Entrepreneurs & Startups 2017

That’s our take on the year’s most intriguing new startups, but if you found it interesting then you may also want to take a look at our recent post on the best websites for entrepreneurs and startups, where we picked out 25 niche sites to help out anyone starting out in business.

We’d like to know your thoughts too. What do you think of the startups we’ve listed here? What other exciting startups would you like to see included? Let us know.

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