From an app to tell stories using fiction formats to a car insurance app to pay per mile traveled, startups are not lowering their guard in order to gain a foothold on the tech grid.
After 2015 with record investment figures, venture capital (VC) firms returned to more "normal" levels last year, with around $69 billion of investment in 7,350 companies. Some of the startups arousing great expectations this year are shown below.
Storytelling apps, such as Snapchat or Instagram Direct, have a huge number of followers; however, if there is an app that promises to steal the hearts of users - and venture capital money - in 2017, it is Hooked. The app that brings the Snapchat generation to the world of literature. Storytelling has become a very important part in the lives of mobile users, but it's no longer enough to show where we are, how we are playing with our dog or what we are eating. As explained in the Tapptitude website, the new formats provided by Hooked allow users to break the routine by creating fictional stories. Besides giving them the opportunity to create stories, Hooked encourages users to read. Its interface is very simple: a blank screen where text messages appear virtually, almost identical to WhatsApp, which allow readers to follow a creepy story.
Musical.ly or music 2.0
Another startup with strong prospects this year is Musical.ly, which stood out in the Business Insider list. Even though this app was created in 2014, it did not start making noise among teenagers until a few months ago. Far from the usual music applications like Spotify or Pandora, Musical.ly functions as a social network in which users can post 15-second videos playing back duets with artists or dancing. In addition, unlike other apps, here videos do not self-destruct once viewed; they're stored indefinitely in each user's profile.
However not only companies related to entertainment look promising. The fintech sector also has an ace up its sleeve. In accordance with Fastcompany, after four years in the shadow, US Metromile has raised about $200 billion and has been climbing the ranking nationwide. Its pay-per-mile car insurance has made this insurance firm an example to follow among insurtech startups. Along with Trov and Lemonade, Metromile aspires to be on the short list of VC investors.
While many companies are still experimenting with drones, Zipline is the first company worldwide to offer a commercial delivery service through drones. "Zipline is covering basic needs by delivering lifesaving medical supplies. It has begun in Rwanda, where poor roads and infrastructure make it difficult to reach patients. With a brilliant technological team and real customer data, Zipline will significantly extend its leadership in 2017," according to Matt Huang, partner of Sequoia Capital.
Young people seeking to invest without paying fees have surrendered at the feet of Robinhood, a free app that facilitates buying and selling shares from a phone, making it a cheap and intuitive mobile process. According to Josh Elman, partner of the Greylock fund, in the coming months this app will further revolutionize the stock-market transactions of millennials.
Getting money back is something that puts everyone in a good mood and is the key to Earny's growing popularity. This app tracks prices of all purchases made and returns users part of their money. As Venturebeat explained, price protection policies are different depending on the credit card used. But if a user buys an item and Earny finds a lower price within a certain period of time, the app makes the card issuer automatically refund the difference to the buyer. "Reclaiming price corrections is something that few people had thought of, but there are really millions of unclaimed dollars" maintains Peter Pham, co-founder and partner of the Science fund.
Anyone thinking about selling their home in the short term and places more value on the certainty of making a sale above getting the highest price is in luck. Opendoor calculates a fair market value through a pricing algorithm and offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Forbes estimates that the company's income will exceed $200 million in 2017 and it will have a presence in 30 cities from 2018.
"Dollar" stores play an important role in the market and it's no wonder that internet shopping lovers have become loyal fans of Hollar. Eric Feng, Leiner Perkins partner, says it's no wonder that lovers of these shops prefer the convenience of online shopping. Hollar is growing 50% month on month and has reached $47.5 billion in revenue, according to Techcrunch.
Laurel & Wolf
This app gets users and interior designers in contact online, which facilitates and reduces the costs of remodeling spaces. It has penetrated deep into many mobile users and is a trend to consider, maintains Saar Gur, partner of Charles River Ventures.
This is already a veteran in the industry, but it has changed the world of student loans because, as explained in an article by Forbes, it's able to refinance student loans below market price. This startup has used data analysis to facilitate loan processes in a pioneering way and its service offering is gradually expanding into other fields such as insurance and mortgages. For Alex Rampell, partner of the Andreessen Horowitz fund, SoFi is challenging other apps and may become the next big thing in wealth management.