Each one of these tech startups on our list is making its mark—find out how.

Tech startups are showing no signs slowing down in 2018. The relationship between unknown prodigy teams and venture capitalists seem to be the philosophical peanut butter and jelly. The two have a successful track record that has created some of the world’s most recognizable tech companies; for example. Apple and Google were both humble tech startups at their respective genesis. The trend continues with these five top tech startups that are finding new ways to solve some of the world’s trickiest problems.

Shippo

Amazon may be dominating the e-commerce industry right now, but Shippo is doing its part to level the playing field for independent merchants. It’s among the best tech startups because of its mission to deliver logistics services to small e-commerce businesses.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco, the 60-person company run by Laura Behrens Wu announced in late 2017 that it received $20 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. To date, it’s received $29.3 million in funding—not bad for a company still in its early days. While Shippo serves as an API platform for small businesses looking for a low-cost alternative for their existing shipping practices, it is because of such funding—as well as time in the market—that has allowed Shippo to expand its services to include:

  • shipping internationally
  • automating international paperwork
  • designing and printing shipping and return labels
  • tracking shipments
  • simplifying the returns process

The reason large scale e-commerce businesses like Ebay and Amazon are able to ship goods—even internationally—for a lower cost is because they are shipping goods at a high volume. So, how does Shippo accomplish its main goal?

Shippo accomplishes lower shipping rates for smaller businesses, and even independent merchants on websites like Etsy, by combining the amount of goods being shipped by every vendor using the platform into one total amount. In doing so, the volume of goods is boosted, therefore lowering the price of shipping and offering those deep discounts to its retail partners.

These services are groundbreaking for small merchants so it makes sense that Shippo handles shipments for over 15,000 businesses on a monthly basis. As far as up and coming companies go, Shippo is changing the e-commerce game.

NGINX

Do you ever wonder how websites like Netflix manage to keep their content flowing quickly, securely, and reliably? That’s where this tech startup comes in. NGINX (pronounced ‘Engine-X’) is a top web server that also provides application delivery solutions to companies with high volumes of traffic. Whether it’s Netflix, Starbucks, Dropbox, Airbnb, Instagram, McDonalds, or Pinterest, this company has some of the most high-profile companies as its clients.

The company began as a source project in 2002 when Igor Sysoev wrote it as a solution for The C10K problem—a term that referred to the issue web servers experienced in handling high volumes of traffic. From then it slowly grew and in 2011 it was founded as NGINX, Inc. Since then, it has become a company trusted by over 450 million sites, has received $41 million in funding, and is now headquartered in San Francisco where it has quietly become one of the companies has helped shape the internet.  

The depth at which NGINX can help companies has grown, but some of its features include:

  • ensures web servers continue to run seamlessly
  • works with modern cloud architectures
  • web serving
  • load balancing
  • media streaming
  • proxy server
    • for email
  • serving as a middle man
    • serves as a web accelerator or an SSL/TSL terminator

As a company that now serves over 50 percent of the busiest sites, NGINX is making its mark on the internet and serves as a success story among top tech startups.

GitLab

With a total funding amount of $45.6 million, GitLab is a rarity among this list of up and coming companies in that it has no headquarters and its 250 employees all work remotely from more than 39 countries. Founded in 2011, this company is now used by over 100,000 organizations. This open source project is a single application that helps users work through the software development and operation stages (DevOps) of their business. More specifically it is focused on assisting developers with code creation, review, and deployment. While the company was founded in 2011 it was in 2015 when their growth accelerated after they joined Y Combinator.

The features offered by GitLab vary depending on the type of membership purchased and they are divided in two ways, by DevOps lifecycle phases and by GitLab quality attributes:

  • DevOps lifecycle phases
    • plan
    • create
    • verify
    • package
    • release
    • configure
    • monitor
  • GitLab quality attributes
    • Scalability
    • Availability
    • Compliance
    • Security
    • Innersourcing
    • Integration
    • Open core

Additionally, what sets GitLab apart is its mission to bridge the gap between consumer and contributor. Their business model is built upon the company’s belief that all digital products should be open to contribution from everyone. They also gained notoriety in 2017 for showing the measures they will take to maintain transparency by keeping a livestream of updates going for their users when employee error caused an overnight outage.

Skydio

Started by three friends from MIT, Skydio has made the list of top tech startups for its innovative take on how to help drones navigate. While the groundwork for this field has been laid down by companies like Intel and Ascending Technologies, Skydio takes the idea further by employing a “sense and avoid” technique that allows aircraft guidance outside of GPS.

“The goal is to take something that normally costs $5,000 and sell it for $50,” said Adam Bry, CEO of Skydio in 2015.

How did Skydio plan to accomplish this? The startup relies solely on ordinary cameras rather than the depth of field cameras and lasers commonly used by other drone companies.

In February of this year, Skydio announced its first drone, the Skydio R1, would be making it to market. While it’s not being sold for $50—it’s actually $2,499—the team achieved their goal of sticking to cameras by developing the Skydio Autonomy Engine—a 13-camera system that sees in every direction.  

Considering the current demand for a product like this, and the way in which the founders executed their innovative vision from the start, it’s easy to see why the company not only received $56 million in funding after just three rounds, but quickly caught the support for investors at Accel and Andreessen Horowitz. Despite its current model being quite groundbreaking, Skydio will continue working toward innovative drone navigation advancements, which is part of the reason why it is among the top tech startups to keep an eye on.

The Company Formerly Known as CrowdFlower

Having recently unveiled its name, Figure Eight has notable clients such as

  • Google
  • Cisco
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Mozilla

It has raised $58 million in funding and is amongst plenty of up and coming companies with its headquarters being located in San Francisco.

What did this company do to garner such notoriety?

The organization addresses the ever-growing need to train, test, and tune machine learning models. From there, these machines ensure that AI can work in the real world by not only fulfilling their tasks but determining which ones need to be handled by a human.

Figure Eight technology supports:

  • multiple data types
    • text
    • video
    • image
    • audio

Additionally, Figure Eight uses cases such as:

  • facial recognition
  • autonomous vehicles
  • aerial and satellite imagery
  • intelligent chat bots
  • medical image labeling
  • CRM data enrichment
  • social data insight

Founded in 2007, the company has garnered investments from companies like Salesforce Ventures and Microsoft Ventures. What sets the company apart is that its teaches AI function at a higher level.

“Most people think of AI as just the algorithm, but increasingly enterprises are realizing that the bottleneck to deploying effective machine learning models is large volumes of high quality training data that describes the messy human environment the AI needs to operate within,” said Robin Bordoli, CEO of Figure Eight.

However, Bordoli feels that Figure Eight can help companies achieve quicker and more effective learning from their AI.