50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 5

The rise in entrepreneurship in the last few years is overwhelming. The change from the popular mindset of becoming salaried individuals right after college to the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur, no matter what the education level is, is awesome.

Startup CompaniesThe guy behind kolakube.com confesses starting his first entrepreneurship when he was in grade 1. How? He sold Oreo cookies! Entrepreneurship is a vast world, which exists beyond your age, gender and race.

Anyways, after some different stories in the last few days, let’s come back to the last part of startup companies. Before that, you can peruse part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Open up your mind and receive these new startup ideas.

41. eBuzzing.com

CEO: Pierre Chappaz

Business Idea: Advertising and social media channel

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: Amid global advertising and social media platforms, you have eBuzzing.com that is on the forefront of the European social media scene.

An initiative like this is beneficial because it helps the business to grow locally. No matter how much we become globalized or high marketing techniques we acquire to understand the global market, the novelty to understand and utilize the ‘home’ market does not lose its charm.

The reason why eBuzzing.com has made this list is because of its unique advantage – they are not offering advertising and social media globally, they are targeting a particular continent –Europe.

Gemini, GIMV and Light Speed are some of the investors in eBuzzing.com.

42. Lifebooker.com

CEO:Arnold Reichman

Business Idea: Health and beauty based daily deals

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: In an era where health awareness and beauty preservation is at its all time high, a daily deals site like lifebooker.com becomes a necessity.

The makers of lifebooker.com offers discounted health and beauty appointments at very affordable prices. In the current turbulent US economy, this kind of service is a boon for people.

Perhaps if the economy hadn’t been fragile, their success would have been hard to come by but the situation is very different for them. This shows that the success of startups depends much on external factors too.

Steve Messer and Edison Ventures are the investors in this company.

43. Stack Exchange

CEO: Joel Spolsky

Business Idea: Q & A

Estimated Value: $80 million

Our Take: When there is a horde of free discussions and forum sites, what is the use of Stack Exchange and more importantly, why does it feature in this list?

Stack Exchange is a network of Q & A sites and in the past one year, it has become known for its network of quality question-answer segments. It is a highly maintained and controlled network, which is why thousands of users visit this site daily.

In 2011 March, they raised about $12 million and Business Insider has valued it at $80 million for this year.

Index Ventures, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures are its investors.

44. Shazam.com

CEO: Andrew Fisher

Business Idea: Buy and share music

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: In the mobile savvy generation, Shazam.com is the haven for music lovers. Its novelty lies in its capability to buy and share music while you are on the move.

Why is Shazam.com so special? For instance, you are traveling on the metro and someone near you is playing a beautiful song. You want that song too. You use Shazam.com on your phone – activate the Bluetooth, the Shazam.com app detects all the songs playing near you and downloads the same for you! Isn’t this amazing?

Evidently, it works with Bluetooth enabled devices and most of the mobile handsets these days come with Shazam app pre-installed.

It is rightly called the music sharing and discovery mobile application.

DN Capital and Institutional Venture Partners are some of its financers.

45. Plenty of Fish

CEO: Markus Frind

Business Idea: Online dating

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Don’t get fooled by the name. It’s not about fish! Plenty of Fish is an aptly named online dating website for singles.

This Vancouver based site is rumored to earn about $30 million per year through advertisements. Good achievement for a free online dating site.

46. Pontiflex.com

CEO: Zephrin Lasker

Business Idea: Prompting user signups

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Small, medium and large businesses pay heavily to get people on their database – generate leads and increase potential revenue. Thousands of sites claim to deliver business leads, how many of them actually deliver?

Pontiflex.com expertly uses digital media to spread targeted ads given by advertisers and prompts user sign ups. Last year, they launched their mobile advertising service and it has been steadily growing.

In other words, this is an entirely lead capture site that delivers real time sign ups to the advertiser’s site…and going by the 2012 estimates and 2011 revenues, they are doing really well.

If you notice, this business idea is not new, thousands of others are dabbling in the same but there is no substitute for hard work and strategic marketing, which Pontiflex.com staff indulges in; hence, they are climbing steadily to the top.

RRE Ventures, New Atlantic Ventures and Greenhill SAVP are its investors.

47. Miniclip.com

CEO: Robert Small

Business Idea: Gaming online

Estimated Value: $105 million

Our Take: I mentioned a more popular online gaming company in the previous lists but this is included too because it is a ‘self-funded’ startup. The CEO invested whatever seed money was necessary in the beginning.

Given the kind of competition the online gaming industry has, self funding a startup would seem suicidal but miniclip.com has successfully survived and doing well, I would say.

They engage about 65 million players per month. Their revenue source is a mixture of virtual goods sales and advertising.

In 2011, they earned about $35 million in revenues.

48. Manta.com

CEO: Pamela Springer

Business Idea: Small business networking

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: With the concept of small business catching on fast, the business model of manta.com serves this growing band of small business owners, giving them a place to create and list their small business profiles and network with other small businesses.

The business idea is good because it is tapping into a growing demand by small business owners for a platform to gain exposure and generate revenues.

In 2011, manta.com had about $30 million in revenues. Reservoir Venture Partners LP and Athenian Venture Partners are its investors.

49. Warby Parker

CEO: Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal

Business Idea: Discounted prescription glasses

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: In 2011, Warby Parker sold about 100,000 prescription glasses at discounted prices.

What does this prove?

The Warby Parker founders have tapped into a market where the revenue for online prescription glasses might be less but they have negated this fact through huge sales globally. Marketing reports show that the demand for prescription glasses doesn’t seem to lessen, which gave Warby Parker their idea behind discounted prescription glasses.

This business model ensures repeat customers annually.

SV Angel, Davis Smith, First Round Capital and Lerer Ventures are its investors.

50. Thought Equity

CEO: Kevin Schaff

Business Idea: Video and licensing

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: The online world is vulnerable because anyone can scrape or infringe on the written and/or video content of others and pass them as their own. Right?

Thought Equity protects your videos from copyright infringement with their footage licensing service. On the other side, they also offer video development services. Hence, if you are running a business and want to run some video promotional campaigns, get them licensed first.

It is a good idea because there is a huge demand of protection from copyright infringement.

In 2011, they earned about $40 million in revenues. Shamrock Capital Advisors is its main investor.

Summary

Thus, we finally come to the end of the massive list of inspiring startups. I hope the list of companies were inspiring to you.

The purpose of this task was to brainstorm you with 45+ new online business ideas and inspire you to start your own.

We will follow up this list with some important tips to begin your start-up business online.

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 4

Running a startup is too difficult especially when you don’t have the manpower. More than manpower, you need able hands to visualize what you’re thinking and help you take the right path. Best Startup Companies Alas! It is very rare to come across such guides and mentors.

If you already have one, consider yourself lucky! All the startups we are mentioning in this list have had some kind of guiding force, be it in the form of a mentor, a trusted friend, or a supportive family member.

Let’s continue with our list. In case you have missed the first 3 parts, catch up with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series.

31. Zynga

CEO: Mark Pincus

Business Idea: Online/social gaming

Estimated Value: $11 billion

Our Take: Remember Cityville and Farmville? These are the top two online games designed and developed by Zynga. Even I was a Farmville addict for 2 years! Cityville receives about 100 million daily active users.

What I am saying is that the online gaming industry is very large and that there is a large market waiting to absorb creative and mind blowing games like the above. Truly, Zynga has established itself as a standalone leader in the social gaming industry. In 2011, its revenue was approximately $600 million and this year, it is predicted to cross $1.5 billion.

Zynga has close associations with social networking sites like Facebook on which they sustain and provide the users an enriching experience. Its virtual revenue model is surely giving them high returns.

32. Groupon

CEO: Andrew Mason

Business Idea: Online daily deals

Estimated Value: $10 billion

Our Take: Clearly, Groupon is the pioneer of the daily deals concept. It is an often used marketing strategy these days like classifieds and other marketing strategies. The concept became so popular that within a year, hundreds of Groupon clones have sprouted up all over the Internet.

The ‘Daily Deal’ revenue model has given the company tremendous growth in the past years. Even though certain experts feel that Groupon would begin to lose its novelty factor given the fact that its IPO stands on shaky ground, I, as a consumer, feel that Groupon has a longer path to tread.

In 2011, its estimated revenue was $3 billion.

33. Twitter

CEO: Evan Williams

Business Idea: Micro-messaging service and social networking platform

Estimated Value: $8 billion

Our Take: Who would have thought that 140 character messages would become so powerful of a business strategy, giving thousands of people the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars online?

Twitter continues to enlarge and spread its tentacles wide. Every small, medium and large business has a dedicated twitter accounts promoting its products and services. In 2011, twitter hit 100 million active users and about 250 million tweets are being sent out daily by users.

As with every other knowledgeable online marketer, we too feel that twitter has immense potential as a social media marketing platform and since the online business is booming even in this decade, twitter will survive and make its founders billions.

34. 360Buy.com

CEO: Liu Qiangdong

Business Idea: eCommerce in China

Estimated Value: $10 billion

Our Take: We know how the Chinese government has imposed red tape over the Internet, which is why websites like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook are inaccessible there. However, given the fact that eCommerce is a booming industry and also because they didn’t want to lag behind their western counterpart, you have Liu’s 360Buy.com, an eCommerce site solely dedicated to China.

Wal-Mart and Digital Sky Technologies are its investors. The eCommerce site is known as the Amazon of China.

Clearly, this initiative is feeding a huge demand by online shopper and thus, it is likely to sustain itself very well over this decade. As we know, business is all about the niche and it’s USP. The niche and USP of 360Buy.com lies in its geographical restraint imposed by the government.

35. Dropbox.com

CEO: Drew Houston

Business Idea: Document, image and video sharing

Estimated Value: $4 billion

Our Take: The reason behind Dropbox success is its unique service – you get to upload and share your documents, images and videos with anyone you want, and store the same in a dedicated cloud server from where they can be recovered anytime and on any device! This is a compact service and that too is free. Yes, it has a premium membership account but you get so much with the free account and people love it – it’s the Dropbox success.

People think that since the cost of cloud computing is getting cheaper, the revenue of Dropbox will take a back seat too but they are very wrong. With decreasing cloud computing prices, Dropbox is also lowering their costs, and in the process, their revenue margin is soaring higher and higher.

Dropbox has immense growth potential as a repository of saving and storing important documents. Think of yourself – won’t you feel like paying for such a private service? Of course, you would!

36. Living Social

CEO: Tim O’Shaughnessy

Business Idea: Social daily deal site

Estimated Value: $3 billion

Our Take: Living Social is an example of selecting a niche within a niche. It is similar to Groupon, which is catering to a niche market. Now within this niche market, Living Social has built a business by zeroing in on a niche within a niche. How?

Living Social is a social daily deal site, which means that it brings promotional codes and discount offers from places which are good places to socialize in your city or town. Its like bringing a group of people together, allowing them to socialize without spending too much.

In 2011, it received $400 million in funding and most likely, it had revenue of $1 billion.

37. Palantir Technologies

CEO: Alexander Carp

Business Idea: Data analysis

Estimated Value: $2.5 billion

Our Take: The Palantir Technologies is an analytical platform, hiring the best minds in the industry to analyze financial data and government information.

The platform is much in demand by large organizations, which is why Business Insider has given it $2.5 billion valuation. In 2011, they earned $100 million approximately.

38. Hulu.com

CEO: Jason Kilar

Business Idea: Online video service

Estimated Value: $1.6 billion

Our Take: It is not big as YouTube but Hulu.com has its own niche market. It is an online video service provider that offers a selection of movies, clips and TV shows.

This shows that in startups, you must never get intimidated by your competitor, YouTube in this case. If you have a strong belief in your idea, go ahead by any means.

In 2011, Hulu.com generated about $500 million, keeping the fact in mind that the website keeps a maximum of 40% in revenues. It came as no surprise that media moguls like Google were trying to buy off Hulu.com but it hasn’t been acquired yet.

39. Airbnb.com

CEO: Brian Chesky

Business Idea: Local accommodation available locally

Estimated Value: $1.3 billion

Our Take: The idea behind airbnb.com is one of the best I have heard to date. Suppose you are visiting Singapore for 10 days and you want to rent an apartment. You have no clue about it because it is your first time visit. What do you do? You contact airbnb.com and give them the task of finding a local apartment on a short term rental at your affordable budget. Sound interesting?

Airbnd.com is an innovative service that will look for apartments on a short term rental basis and their services are available globally. If you don’t want to be put up in hotels, this is an alternative option. Quite creative…eh!

In 2011, they had about $500 million in gross merchandise sales. Impressive!

40. Trulia.com

CEO: Pete Flint

Business Idea: Real estate listing giant

Estimated Value: $700 million

Our Take: Trulia.com is speedily taking over Zillow.com and becoming one of the biggest real estate companies in the US. Here, members can buy and sell properties conveniently.

Real estate is another business that never goes out of vogue; hence, if Trulia.com takes their steps right, they have a lot of potential…

There is no report of how much revenue it generated in 2011, insiders say it was more than double from 2010 revenues.

We come to the end of today’s list. While writing this, I noticed something interesting. Almost all the startups are based in California,USA! Hmm…Why? No idea…

Watch out for the final list, followed by some tips to begin your startup business online.

Startup Companies – Part 5

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 3

You can read the first and second startup companies list before you read the third one. As you must have noticed by now, you don’t need an insane amount of personal capital for any startup business.

All you need is the zeal to convince investors and sooner or later, they will be flocking to invest in your business.

Anyways, let’s now see the next 10 inspirational startups to join this list.

21. Bleacher Report

CEO: Brian Grey

Business Idea: Sports news website

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: Who says you cannot get free content? The Bleacher Report is one such example where Start-up Companies a website with 20 million active readers has been created solely on the unpaid contributions of its voluntary writers!

The Bleacher Report is an analytical sports editorial and is now one of the topmost web based sports journals. In August 2011, the company received $22 million in funding and this year, their valuation is $120 million.

Oak Investment Partners and Crosslink Capital are some of the investors in the Bleacher Report startup.

22. Right Scale

CEO: Michael Crandell

Business Idea: Full scale cloud management services

Estimated Value: $110 million

Our Take: Every small and big company online wants to use cloud management services for data storage and maintenance. Right Scale is one such company that provides a slew of cloud management services.

DAG Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures are some of its investors. Since there are many other cloud management services, this company has been valued at a modest $110 million.

From our perspective, if anyone were to start a cloud management service, its best to target the local businesses before going global as it will get better exposure and brand value.

23. S.B Nation

CEO: Jim Bankoff

Business Idea: Sports directory cum local sports community

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: People at SB Nation created a directory of sports blogs available in the US. They focus on both the national and the local levels; they create community based sports news across the country.

This is a new kind of initiative for sports lovers. Such kind of directories can pull in a lot of traffic, especially when sports are such a favorite topic with everyone.

In 2011, it had an estimated revenue of about $20 million and its expected that with proper guidance, the revenues will soar higher this year.

24. Better Works

CEO: Paige Craig

Business Idea: Creating work environment for businesses

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: This is a new business concept; at least we haven’t heard it previously. Here, businesses can set up and create a rewarding work environment for their employees. Of course, I think the business needs to be completely online regulated to make use of this initiative.

Here, the employees are encouraged to use Better Works as a rewarding social platform because they are rewarded regularly for their collaboration. Better Works has potential this year and hopefully, in the coming years as well, because they are trying to create a congenial and stress free working environment which not every business tries to provide.

Red Point Ventures invests in Better Works.

25. Instagram.com

CEO: Kevin Systrom

Business Idea: iPhone photo sharing tool

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Investors love businesses which has a wider user base. This is the reason why industry insiders peg Instagram.com at $100 million even though it DOES NOT have any revenue model yet!

Instagram.com is a tool used by iPhone users to share images with other iPhone users mainly. In less than a year, it has managed about 9 million active users and the traffic on its site is growing very vast.

I guess they are waiting for the right time to monetize the site.

26. Rent the Runway

CEO: Jennifer Hyman

Business Idea: Renting dresses

Estimated Value: $105 million

Our Take: Rent the Runway is the ideal solution for people who cannot afford to buy expensive dresses but can surely afford to rent them. This company manages to rent selective dresses at a fraction of the cost when compared to the real value of a dress.

The renter chooses a dress, wears it and then returns it. It is perfect if you are looking for high-end dresses for special occasions. In 2011, Rent the Runway had approximately $20 million in revenues and $6 million in 2010.

With better online marketing and inclusion of more geographical areas, the business can reach a wider scale of renters and increase their revenue scales.

27. Clickable

CEO: David Kidder

Business Idea: Software for SEM

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Perhaps this could be an alternative to Google AdWords? Clickable software manages online PPC (pay per click) campaigns for small, medium and large businesses. It is easier to use and customize for advertisers and deliver on select platforms.

In the past year, its revenue has grown 200% and it has immense growth potential in 2012.

28. Break Media

CEO: Keith Richman

Business Idea: Men centered content network

Estimated Value: $120 million 

Our Take: It is a content based media company that produces both publishable and video content centered on men only. It is a humor based content network that also has gaming groups and editorial groups.

The USP behind its success is “entertainment.” They managed to earn about $60 million revenue in 2011 solely because of their humorous entertaining content. Isn’t this what all blogs seek to achieve? Well…here is your inspiration then.

29. Café Mom

CEO: Michael Sanchez

Business Idea: Social networking community for moms

Estimated Value: $130 million

Our Take: In barely a few years, Café Mom has become one of the most popular social networking sites for moms – where moms can join the community and share their experience with fellow moms.

This site has targeted a niche which is very active online and gives immense income potential. In 2011, they generated $35 million approximately in revenues.

30. Xirrus.com

CEO: Dirk Gates

Business Idea: Wi-Fi connectivity

Estimated Value: $140 million

Our Take: In a world becoming connected with the Internet exclusively, a service like that of Xirrus.com is necessary because it provides high performance Wi-Fi connectivity for individuals and businesses.

In 2011, it generated about $70 million in revenues.

In the next series, we will see another 10 inspiring startup companies. Go through these 30 startup companies again – Part 1, Part 2 – and think about your next winning business idea!

Startup Companies – Part 4