Great businesses can be launched any time, even when there’s a downturn in funding.
While the start of 2016 might have spelled trouble for some well-established startups, it also saw the birth of companies tackling things like a cure for cancer, superfast internet, and competition for Uber.
Business Insider spoke to founders and venture capitalists and took a look at funding data to identify some of the startups that had the biggest starts in 2016. Some names on the list are officially launching out of stealth, while others are still in their early months of forming a company.
Here are 17 of the top startups to launch so far in 2016.
Starry is making more powerful Wi-Fi for your house
What is it: Launched in January by the former CEO of Aereo, Chet Kanojia, Starry will sell wireless equipment that will deliver supercharged internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. That’s fast enough to download a two-hour movie in a just a few seconds.
Starry makes a receiver called the Starry Point that hangs out your window like an antenna. You can hook up your own wireless receiver or use its own Starry Station, a $350 device that can tell you right from its screen how fast your internet is performing.
Funding: Unknown, backed by FirstMark Capital, Tiger Global, IAC, KKR, HLVP, and Quantum Strategic Partners.
Juicero wants to make the freshest juice you’ve ever tasted
What is it: Simply described as the “Keurig for juice,” the three-year-old startup finally launched out of stealth in February. The product is a smart, Wi-Fi-connected kitchen appliance that presses pouches the size of IV bags into tasty concoctions of fresh fruits and veggies. There’s no preparation, mess, or cleanup — you simply slip in the pouch, press a button, and out pours your juice.
It starts at $699, a price tag that has drawn criticism about the young startup, but its investors believe the price will decrease as the company matures.
Funding: More than $100 million from Campbell Soup, Google Ventures, Artis Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins, with additional funding from Two Sigma Ventures, First Beverage Group, Acre Ventures, Double Bottom Line Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Vast Ventures, among others.
Cheddar is betting it can be the new CNBC for millennials
What is it: Jon Steinberg, former president of BuzzFeed and CEO of Daily Mail US, founded Cheddar to present business news with a twist for millennials. Now using a paywall, the company has short clips of its interviews for free but is hoping business-savvy 20-somethings will pay to have news tailored to their interests.
Funding: $3.1 million from Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew, Homebrew, and Vivi Nevo.
Grail wants to develop a test for cancer at the earliest possible stage
What is it: Illumina, the maker of DNA-sequencing technology, teamed up with a group of Silicon Valley investors to develop a blood test for any kind of cancer at an earlier stage than previously possible.
Using Illumina’s technology, a new company called Grail will look for a way to measure circulating nucleic acids — bits of DNA that circulate in the blood outside blood cells. While most of our DNA is inside our cells, scientists use CNAs to test for cancer and other diseases noninvasively. Its ambitious mission: Develop a universal cancer-screening test.
Funding: $100 million from investors, including Arch Venture Partners, Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, and Sutter Hill Ventures. Illumina remains majority shareholder.
Juno wants to be a driver-friendly alternative to Uber
What is it: The “anti-Uber startup” Juno was founded by Talmon Marco, an entrepreneur who made a fortune when Viber, the messaging app he founded, sold to Rakuten for $900 million. Basically, Juno says it’s much friendlier to drivers than Uber and Lyft — it takes a smaller share of the profit, leaving more for drivers. So far, it’s only in beta in New York City, so only a small group of people have tried it.
Funding: Reportedly raising a $30 million round.
Otto’s self-driving trucks could revolutionize the industry
What is it: Self-driving trucks might hit the streets before self-driving cars. A team made up of former employees from Google, Apple, and Tesla is developing sensors and software to retrofit trucks into autonomous fleets. Otto’s kits can turn any “dumb” truck built after 2013 into a “smart” driverless vehicle — for a ticket price of $30,00o, according to Wired.
Simple Habit wants to help stressed-out millennials
What is it: After burning out after selling her first startup, Yunha Kim wants to help other overworked millennials de-stress through the one thing that worked for her: meditation.
Simple Habit isn’t an app that’s all about chakras or sitting in the dark for 30 minutes to meditate. Its five-minute sessions are for young professionals on the go — the busy and skeptical people like Kim who thought meditation would never work for them. Apple has already featured Simple Habit as one of its “new apps we love” in May.
Comparably can show you how much you’re being paid compared with your peers
What is it: Most people want to know if they’re being paid fairly but don’t know how to find out. Comparably, a new Glassdoor-style competitor, brings transparency to both pay and culture in the workplace.
A worker can anonymously report their salary, experience level, company size, location, and other factors. In return, the site shows them where they rank compared with their peers with the same position and experience level.
Funding: $6.5 million from lead investor Crosslink Capital and included investment from Upfront Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Alpha Edison, Crosscut Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Cornerstone OnDemand, 500Startups, Pritzker Group, Rincon Venture Partners, Accelerator Ventures, BAM Ventures, and David Sacks.
Zipline’s drones parachute blood and medicine to remote Rwandan cities
What is it: For the last five years, the Zipline team has been secretly working on its lifesaving mission. In April, the company revealed its project to the world: a drone that could deliver up to 3 pounds of blood or medicine. And it’s not just an idea — the company is scheduled to start making drops to health clinics in Rwanda in July in partnership with the country’s government.
Funding: $18 million from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, and others.
Nanit is a superpowered baby monitor
What is it: Computer vision and parenting are two things that normally don’t go together, but Nanit is a smart baby camera that combines them. The camera watches your baby sleep, giving you not only an eye into the crib, but also data about how your baby sleeps. It tracks things like how long it takes your infant to fall back asleep and provides a heat map of where in the crib they love to sleep.
Funding: $6.6 million from Upfront Ventures as well as RRE, 645 Ventures, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Flex, and Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.
Truebill wants to stop you from getting ripped off on subscriptions
What is it: After realizing he was paying $40 a month for an unwanted internet subscription, Yahya Mokhtarzada decided to make sure no one else would get ripped off by a sneaky subscription.
As people have more and more subscriptions (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, your gym) they should be well aware which ones they’re signed up for. His solution was Truebill: a startup that scans your monthly credit card bills and then helps you cancel the subscriptions you don’t want.
Funding: $350,000 from Y Combinator, Facebook’s David Marcus, and others.
Winnie wants to be the Yelp for parents
What is it: Yelp is great for finding good restaurants or coffee shops, but a list of the best spots changes if your new priority is finding somewhere that’s stroller-friendly.
Part Yelp, part Foursquare, Winnie helps parents find locations that meet their needs — whether that’s a changing table in the restroom or just a quiet area to nurse — and lets them share the story of their visit when they check into the spot.
Funding: A small “pre-seed” amount.
Ritual is making a better vitamin
What is it: There are plenty of vitamins out there, but Katerina Schneider realized after taking a closer look that too many of them have outdated formulations. For example, most people get enough vitamin C in their diets that it’s not necessary to have in a vitamin, Schneider told TechCrunch. Instead, her new startup, Ritual, sources its ingredients from different parts of the world and puts together the best blend of only what’s necessary.
Funding: $1.3 million from Upfront Ventures, FF Angel, Rivet Ventures, and Troy Carter.
Recharge lets you rent hotel rooms by the minute for whenever you need a rest
What is it: Not every office comes with a nap pod, so a four-person San Francisco startup, Recharge, is giving people the chance to find some quiet during the day. By partnering with hotels, the startup charges people $0.66 per minute or $40 for an hour to get a private room to take a nap, shower after a run, or find a quiet place to take a break. And while there have been some questions about what else it would be used for, the startup has a built-in ratings system to make sure unwanted guests stay out of the app.
Funding: $2.3 million from Binary Capital and including Floodgate, entrepreneur Rick Marini, Eniac VC, Expansion VC, entrepreneur-investor Scott Banister, and early Google engineer Harry Cheung.
Lola is a new kind of a travel agent
What is it: Founded by Paul English, one of the cofounders of Kayak, Lola is lifting the travel-agent industry into the 21st century. Lola works as a chat app to connect travelers to a team of consultants who can take care of every step of the planning process. The app uses a combination of AI technology and an experienced staff to provide travelers with an alternative to many of the DIY travel websites.
Funding: $20 million from investors including General Catalyst and Accel Partners.
Pearl will help turn your ‘dumb car’ into a cutting-edge model
What is it: Launched out of stealth with dozens of ex-Apple engineers, Pearl is making products that can turn your old car into a high-tech model. Its first product is a license plate frame that connects to your phone, giving you a back-up camera if your car doesn’t come with one. It’s a pricey $500 to start, but the company says that the frame will improve over time and do a lot more than just show you what’s behind you when backing up.
Funding: $50 million.
KnuEdge wants to one-up Google and Intel
What is it: KnuEdge should barely be considered a startup. Compared with the relative youth of the companies on our list, KnuEdge has been around for the last 10 years — spending the entire time in stealth mode.
In June, former NASA administrator Dan Goldin reemerged to reveal what he had been working on for the past decade: KnuEdge, a startup based in San Diego with a mission to one-up Google, AMD, and Intel with the “fundamental invention” of the next-generation computer processor.
Funding: $100 million from unknown investors.