It has been often said that starting a company online and making it a success is a herculean task. If you are still waiting for the million dollar idea to strike or if you are already contemplating launching an online business, take a look at these 50 startup companies who are the “shining stars” of 2012.
The list of startup companies below is not given in any particular rank nor is it in alphabetical order. Read and be inspired! Who knows…you might get an idea or two reading this.
Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012
Valuation Source: BusinessInsider.com
1. Coupons.com Inc.
CEO: Steven Boal
Business Idea: Selling coupons online
Estimated Value: $1 billion
Our Take: Selling coupons online is a wonderful idea because of two reasons: first, you get goods and services at discounted prices; second, you get to save money. So if you find a service which gives you money saving coupons, won’t you just grab it?
This is the selling idea and the reason why Coupon.com Inc is so successful. They’ve been in business since 1998 and presently, they serve about 65,000 websites on a daily basis. Their estimated revenue in 2011 was $100 million and thus, the company is valued at $1 billion for 2012, two times their 2011 revenue.
2. Gilt Groupe
CEO: Kevin Ryan
Business Idea: Private selling of fashion luxury brands – members only
Estimated Value: $1.05 billion
Our Take: The second decade of the millennia is the age of eCommerce – online shops. While many online eCommerce shops are cropping up in every country, how about an eCommerce site that gives personal attention to buyers and feeds your luxurious lifestyle by giving the best of fashion brands?
This is what the Gilt Groupe does…its USP is its members-only eCommerce platform and judging by their vast collection of luxury items, it is safely catering to the elite and higher upper middle class buyers with money to spend. They follow the word-of-mouth (WOM) strategy since purchasing from this brand is “by-invitation” only.
In case you are wondering its success ratio, look at its revenues – $270 million in 2010 and $500 million in 2011.
CEO: Darrell Cavens
Business Idea: Daily deals only for moms and kids
Estimated Value: $700 million
Our Take: You see hundreds of daily deal sites globally but Zulily.com is niche based. They have targeted the industry which can never go out of business – moms and kids – much like the wedding industry is never without business.
The business is dedicated to bring daily deal offers for moms and kids around the world, including accessories and clothing at discounted rates. Meritech Capital Partners, Maveron, and August Capital are the investors in this business.
CEO: Dan Rosensweig
Business Idea: Renting textbooks to students online
Estimated Value: $600 million
Our Take: Education is not affordable anymore. Admission in a local college means heavy money; add to it the escalating costs of books. The traditional system of taking textbooks to class has changed. Now you are expected to carry Mac and Kindle. A service like Chegg.com is very beneficial as it allows you to rent textbooks and most importantly, the online textbooks are optimized for PC, Mac and iPad.
This startup has huge potential in 2012 because it is feeding an ever growing market of learners and educationists.
5. Media Bank
CEO: Bill Wise
Business Idea: Advertisement
Estimated Value: $500 million
Our Take: If you are running a business, you know the value of getting an effective medium to display your business, that is, the importance of getting the right place at the right value for business exposure. This is where Media Bank comes in.
Media Bank analyzes and offers a set of tools to help you in media buying. Typical questions like “will investing in print media be helpful or digital media?” is answered by the Media Bank team.
The service has growth potential because business owners are looking at value for money; they are no more blindly buying ad spaces. They want results. Media Bank gives results.
CEO: Paul Forster
Business Idea: Search engine for jobs
Estimated Value: $450 million
Our Take: Talk about a business model that gets content for free, doesn’t need to spend a dime on advertisement marketing and in fact, earns through pay-per-click system and you have Indeed.com.
Indeed.com aggregates job listings from the web and builds its own directory of jobs. With thousands of employees being shown the pink slip every week, the business model of Indeed serves to connect a prospective employer and employee.
It’s pegged at $450 million in revenues for 2012, a sharp rise from $50 million in 2010 and $100 million in 2011.
7. Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia)
Executive Director: Sue Gardner
Business Idea: Online knowledge encyclopedia
Estimated Value: $4 billion
Our Take: Wikipedia is the Pandora box of knowledge, contributed by millions of Wikipedia users. As a complete non-profit organization, it runs off donations and volunteer work – on this strength solely, Wikipedia is the top 10 online resource of the world.
If it is turned to a commercial “for-profit” organization, its earning potential is huge as a content sharing / knowledge based platform. It is a valuable startup which shows you don’t need immense capital to start an online venture – the required capital can be raised for running a business and its focus on volunteer work shows the CSR side of Wikimedia Foundation.
CEO: Jeremy Stoppelman
Business Idea: Local business recommendations/social business networking
Estimated Value: $800 million
Our Take: You have just moved in to London and you are looking for the local construction service provider…how do you find one? You sign up with Yelp. The Yelp business model works on creating and optimizing a local business search engine along with giving members the chance to connect with fellow people – its like knowing your neighborhood online…fascinating!
In 2012, Yelp will face stiff competition from Google Places and their recently acquired Zagat.com.
CEO: Sachin Bansal
Business Idea: eCommerce business
Estimated Value: $350 million
Our Take: The genesis of Flipkart.com is all about being in the right place at the right time – seizing the opportunity. Before Flipkart.com started, there were other eCommerce portals in India but this business has left behind all those and turned into the top eCommerce site in India.
The success behind Flipkart.com is its COD (Cash-on-Delivery) system. Why? Unlike the US and other western countries, Indians are not that forthcoming with giving their credit/debit card details online; hence, introducing the COD system gave the company two things every business needs – trust and goodwill.
This shows that business is not about aping others – you have to understand the particular market.
BTW, Sachin Bansal is an ex-Amazon.com employee…so you know where the inspiration is coming from!
CEO: Timo Soininen
Business Idea: Virtual hotel
Estimated Value: $300 million
Our Take: Frankly, I don’t quite understand the idea behind opening a virtual hotel membership and interacting with it as you would do in a real hotel but seeing the kind of financial success Habbo.com has managed, it seems the virtual world is truly the “in” thing!
They have about 80 million registered users (WOW!) who just laze around in the sun, play games, dine in and do a lot of other stuff in the virtual hotel…seems the makers behind Habbo.com are giving people relaxing activities online while getting their piece of the pie. ($300 million is not a joke!)
Let’s stop here today. Stay tuned for another 40 of amazing startups.
PS: I used the word “feed” / “feeding” here more often. Did you notice that? NO…You are not ready to be an online business owner yet.
Unless you understand what the market demands and find a solution to “feed” that demand…keep thinking and researching business ideas.