Source: Atanta Inno | By Madison Hogan
2020 has presented an abundance of challenges.
If you’re a startup or an entrepreneur grinding it out, we see you. And we want to celebrate you.
For the second year in a row, we’re announcing the 50 people and companies that are crushing it in Atlanta. Over the next few weeks, we’ll spotlight a few of these companies in stories and in our newsletter, The Beat.
So what exactly makes a company or person “on fire?” Using nominations from you, the readers, we’re showcasing startups that have had a banner year — people and companies with new funding, recent product launches, hot hires and innovative approaches to solving problems.
This year, we decided to introduce some new categories in addition to our classic industry categories. Food on Fire highlights startups revolutionizing the food and beverage industry. Firestarters are individuals or organizations that have helped spark innovation in the community by supplying funding, mentoring, teaching and other resources. And Hotspaces are coworking spots, clubs and other physical spaces around Atlanta that are the breeding ground for collaboration and growth.
Check out our 2020 50 on Fire winners below. Let’s drop this list …
SpeciCare – SpeciCare knows that no two cancers are the same, which is why treatment shouldn’t be either. This startup designs a personalized plan to alternative cancer treatments. The company began in 2017 by saving live tumor tissue and give patients, new innovative options. SpeciCare keeps live tumor tissue from a patient by freezing it in a viable (living) state. The tissue is then available for research and clinical testing at the patient’s discretion.
Lucienne Ide/Rimidi – SaaS company Rimidi stepped up to the plate when the pandemic began. The company announced efforts to contain Covid-19 and reduce risk to providers and patients by releasing a patient-reported outcomes survey app. Rimidi is in an ongoing collaboration with the CDC and will continue to update the app with the latest CDC guidelines on the virus. The app has since been released, thanks to efforts from the startups founder Lucienne Ide. Rimidi is software for clinicians, by clinicians. The platform assists in monitoring diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity.
Clean Hands – Safe Hands – In the Covid-19 era, clean hands truly are safe hands. Clean Hands – Safe Hands partners with hospitals to develop hand hygiene solutions to improve patient care and save lives. Hospitals and doctors officers are dependent on their innovation now more than ever. Their products include alcohol and soap dispensers equipped with sensors that gather data from badge reels; if a doctor or nurse forgets to wash their hands, a real-time voice reminder will tell them.
Acoer – Acoer is a software company using blockchain to help transform the health care industry. Founded in 2014, Acoer develops health care technologies, such as APIs (application program interfaces), which let computers and programs easily communicate. The company’s two main products include HashLog, a real-time data visualization engine, which Acoer has used to track and visualize the spread of the coronavirus, and HashLoad, a blockchain-enabled data collaboration tool, designed to allow researchers to share files and data securely with third parties.
BioIQ – BioIQ, an Atlanta-based biotech company, kicked it into high-gear when the coronavirus broke out. Since March, the company has developed a Covid-19 test and an at-home saliva test that can detect Covid-19, Flu A / Flu B, and a 21 test respiratory panel from a single saliva sample. The startup works with employers, government agencies and health providers to supply them with testing for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, along with immunization programs patients can take at home or in the doctor’s office. BioIQ recently raised $14 million in a funding round in December.
B2B Technology and Software
BELAY – BELAY offers virtual staffing solutions for executive assistance, bookkeeping and website services to clients. BELAY employees have been working from home from since the company formed in 2010. The startup was more than prepared for the WFH environment many of us had to join during the pandemic. Founders and married couple Bryan and Shannon Miles have mostly bootstrapped the company, only raising $160K in funding, according to Crunchbase. The company was most recently valued at $100 million. Earlier this year, the company was named as one of the best places to work by Inc. Magazine.
7Factor Software – 7Factor Software is a software and cloud services company focused on bringing innovation into all aspects of your software delivery pipeline. According to a nomination, it’s important 7Factor Software gets “it right the first time for greater efficiency and a solution that enhances clients’ operations and helps their business grow.” Founder Jeremy Duvall launched the company in 2017.
11Ten Innovation Partners – 11Ten Innovation Partners is a management consulting firm that partners with corporations and startups to channel the right ecosystems, strategies and solutions needed for success. The company identifies growth opportunities for businesses and provides accelerated pathways. 11Ten is the driving force behind the Emory Healthcare Innovation Hub — a health care innovation and commercialization program that turns ideas into realities.
Rev.io – This startup developed a telecom and IoT billing platform designed to scale with growing businesses. Rev.io has appeared on the Inc. 5000 list six times and reported in March a three-year revenue growth of 101%.
ViZZ – Atlanta-based ViZZ, a software company that builds virtual experiences, uses computing solution pairs 3D and AI enabling users to digitally mirror projects and environments to make rapid and informed decisions. The company was our underdog Tech Madness winner in March.
Morgan Drake/Fanboard – Fanboard takes sports clubs, events and venues to another level by creating AR, VR and MR games and experiences. Morgan Drake, founder and CEO of Fanboard, started working on the startup for an Atlanta Braves hackathon. The company’s mission is to help brands scale their campaigns while keeping fans connected and entertained. Fanboard was part of the 2019 cohort of the Velocity Accelerator program at Innovation Depot.
Sock Fancy – Sock subscription startup Sock Fancy was faced with a challenge when a majority of its corporate partnerships and collaborations came to a deadstop in March, thanks to Covid-19. The Sock Fancy team soon pivoted to making masks — a move that has proved successful with the sale of more than 80,000 masks by May. In addition to selling to the general public, the company has made corporate masks for businesses such as Hardy’s, Peachtree Orthopedics and even the Department of Defense.
WorthPoint – WorthPoint is an online database for researching, valuing and buying/selling antiques, art and vintage collectibles. It uses price points from items sold through auctioning, eBay and more than 350 different sources to determine how much an item is worth. The company is bootstrapped and has tagged more than 1.5 billion items.
Bungii – Bungii, an app that puts a pickup at your fingertips to help move, haul and transport items around town, had a good start to 2020, having launched in its 10th city. Much like Uber, drivers with pickup trucks can signup on Bungii to earn an income by helping others haul items after passing a background check. Those in need of a haul simply take a picture of the items—such as a couch and a bookshelf—that need to be moved, get connected with a local driver upon request and then rate and pay their driver following the pickup. The app can even connect customers with drivers to pick up items from retailers such as Cost Plus World Market, Big Lots, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and West Elm. Last year, the startup closed an oversubscribed $9.4 million Series A round.
SlumberPod – SlumberPod has set out to revolutionize a problem we’ve had since the beginning of the human race: helping parents put their fussy toddlers and babies to sleep. The Columbus, Ga.-based startup designs a quick-assembly privacy pod that babies and toddlers quickly drift off in, giving parents privacy and a chance at rest. The startup appeared on “Shark Tank” and scored a $400,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran.
AI and Security
Fusus – Atlanta-based Fusus, a software platform for public and private video surveillance that gives direct access to law enforcement on one common interface, is trying to drive the balance between safety and privacy in the digital age. The hope is to allow 911 responders and law enforcement to see crimes or emergencies in real time via video. To date, Fusus has linked 14,533 cameras to its platform to help law enforcement protect more than 9.56 million people, according to its website.
IRONSCALES – IRONSCALES, an auto-phishing startup based in Atlanta and Tel Aviv, raised $15 million in a Series B round in 2019. The company most recently released a phishing emulator, an automated solution that enables security professionals to evaluate email security by using real phishing attacks.
Bluefin – Bluefin, a point-to-point encryption firm, has evolved to offer vaultless tokenization, a method which securely stores sensitive data like social security numbers, passport numbers and other highly coveted information. Bluefin, which describes its solution as “cybersecurity for payment processing,” takes data from their clients’ webpage, encrypts it and gives it back to the webpage using a combination of secure form elements and vaultless tokenization. The company has also handled case studies for clients such as Two Men & a Truck, University of California San Diego, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and more. According to Crunchbase, Bluefin has raised $6 million in funding to date.
Bark – Bark is a software startup that monitors kids’ internet usage for potential threats. The monthly subscription service for parents was founded in 2015 and created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts and law enforcement professionals. Using machine learning, Bark’s software will scan the context of children’s text messages, social media accounts and email for cyberbullying, internet predators, depression, suicidal thoughts and sexting. The startup has raised a total of $16.5 million, according to Crunchbase.
Corvado – Corvado is a cloud-based solution with applications for cleanliness and safety compliance, program management, facility operations controls, visual business intelligence and physical asset management. So perfect fighting tools against a pandemic, right? Corvado Confi-Klean solution was implemented at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to flatten the curve. Using Corvado, clients like MARTA can use real-time data to enforce standards and compliance for a clean and safe environment.
BitPay – Atlanta blockchain payments provider BitPay has grown at a rapid pace in the last two years. The company has attracted a number of notable investors, including Christopher Klaus Family Office, founder of Internet Security Systems (ISS), and Alvin Liu, co-founder of Tencent. The startup has raised a total of $72 million and partnered with credit card companies on plastic cards to store and convert bitcoin in a simple transaction.
Bakkt – Bakkt, a cryptocurrency exchange and liquidity provider created by the New York Stock Exchange’s parent company Intercontinental Exchange, is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency startups in the country. Despite the pandemic, the company closed a $300 million in a Series B round in March, bringing its total funding to $482.5 million. The company has already had two acquisitions, one of which assisted Bakkt users in unlocking $1 trillion worth of digital assets in loyalty programs, rewards, bitcoin and other sources.
Qoins – Roundup apps for investing and saving are widely popular now, but Qoins, an app that helps consumers pay off their debts and loans while coaching them on how to reach their financial goals, is doing something completely different in the space. The startup has raised a little under $1 million, but helped its users pay off more than $10 million and counting.
Greenlight Financial Technology – Greenlight, the smart debit card for kids, seems to be growing just as fast as young ones do. The startup raised more than $54 million in 2019 and was valued at about $50 million in 2018. Greenlight developed a smart debit card for kids, that allows parents to monitor and manage their child’s spending from a smartphone. Parents can choose which stores their child can spend money, freeze the card if it’s lost of stolen, receive spending alerts and automate allowances. The goal is to teach kids how to manage money in a digital world.
Softgiving – Softgiving is a fintech startup that develops fundraising software for nonprofits that allows donors to make contributions in smaller increments. The startup has been successful in partnering with celebrity fundraisers, such as Jeezy’s Street Dreamz Foundation in 2019, and many causes dedicated to helping those in need during the pandemic.
Marketing, Advertising and Design
FullStory – FullStory is a customer experience data app that collects customer experience and analyzes data on one platform. Founded in 2014, the company has grown to hundreds of employees and a total of $69.2 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. In May, the company closed a $10 million raise and has attracted notable investors such as Stripes and Dell Technologies Capital. The startup has worked with major brands, such as Carmax, GNC, Hyatt and Zillow.
Scout Social – In the age of influencers, Scout Social has created a global network of 800 million followers of the Gen Z and Millennial generation for brand marketers. This media company distributes branded content to native social feeds and stories on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. The company has worked with brands like Warner Music Group, Hooters and even branding for TikTok itself.
Beam Imagination – This creative studio uses elements like 360 video, AR/VR, aerial and experimental art to make brands stand out. The company has worked with major local brands such as the Atlanta Braves, Truist Park, Atlanta Zoo and Delta.
Urban Enterprises – Urban Enterprises is a marketing agency that promotes events, restaurants and malls with creative projects, networking and other opportunities. As a way to help clients reopen businesses, the company is offering a number of services ranging from parking garage greeters and golf cart operators, drop off and craft kits for residential properties and different events in during the pandemic.
Mailchimp – Email marketing and marketing automation platform Mailchimp has been busy in the past year. Since our last 50 on Fire celebration, the company has branched out into entertainment with content creation studio Mailchimp Presents, anchored a $25 million fund with Overline VC, created a physical pop-up store in Ponce City Market to feature some of their clients’ products and acquired a small London-based magazine for entrepreneurs. Mailchimp is making leaps and bounds well beyond emails and newsletters, making it an on fire company.
Food on Fire
Popmenu – Popmenu is a customer engagement engine for restaurants. The platform helps restaurants control their menu in real-time to attract and engage customers. Their technology is designed to help restaurants keep updated menus, reviews, photos and ratings on their website without customers having to find information on a third-party site such as Yelp or Google Reviews. Popmenu originally raised $585,000 in 2018 and a $5 million round at the end of 2019. Clients of the startup include Cafe Monarch, Umami Burger, Hugo’s Restaurant, Murphy’s and Square One Concepts.
Sifted – Sifted, a corporate catering and lunch delivery service with customizable meals for the office, is a completely bootstrapped company that reached $12 million in annual recurring revenue in less than five years. Founders Jess Legge and Kimberly Lexow said Sifted was profitable from day one. When coronavirus hit the U.S., the startup pivoted to two new business models: Sifted Provisions, a program that offers chef-driven Provision Packs of groceries, and Sifted Kitchen, a branch of the company that offers a curated selection hand-blended spices.
Golda Kombucha – The rise of kombucha in stores and restaurants around the country isn’t lost on Golda Kombucha, Atlanta’s one and only kombucha brewery and the first in the state of Georgia. Founded by Melanie Wade, Golda Kombucha provides a fermented drink alternative without the alcohol (only trace amounts) without sacrificing taste or flavor. You can get Golda Kombucha on tap or in bottles at restaurants, bars and grocery stores throughout the Southeast, including Kroger and Whole Foods Markets.
gusto! – gusto! is the latest of locally owned restaurants to pop up in Atlanta. Founded by Nate Hybl, a former NFL football quarterback, gusto! is a healthy fast food restaurant with more than seven locations around the city. The startup restaurant was founded in 2014.
Synapse – This Georgia Tech founded startup has designed an energy drink that gives you a kick without the use of caffeine, but nootropics, supplements that improve cognitive function. Also known as “smart drugs,” the nootropics are then mixed with other natural ingredients to create a great taste, without the caffeine. In 2018, the startup raised a $1 million round and began to launch its expansion across the Southeast.
Collab Capital – Collab Capital is an Atlanta-based investment fund designed to connect Black founders to the financial and social capital they need to build profitable businesses. Most recently, Collab partners announced it was raising a $50 million fund to support Black startups and entrepreneurs. The new VC firm made its first investment earlier this month in Hairbrella, a beauty startup created by a Black founder.
Shadow Ventures – Shadow Ventures is an incubator, accelerator and venture capital firm for BuiltTech startups that also just so happens to offer a proprietary platform to the startups in its portfolio. But in these uncertain times, the organization has opened its closed platform for free to anyone and everyone. The online ecosystem was developed to provide content, know-how and other systems that have aided Shadow Ventures and its portfolio companies with seed-stage investing and startup incubation. Shadow Ventures currently has about 70 startups in its incubator.
Curiosity Lab – Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is an innovation center created by the City of Peachtree Corners. A living lab and testbed for all things autonomous, the center is home to a 500-acre commercial office park and 1.5-mile test track. The track can be used to test the interaction of autonomous vehicles with people going about their daily business. The lab launched one of the world’s first fleet of teleoperated e-scooters ready for public use in May.
Atlanta Tech Village – The Atlanta Tech Village, a tech incubator based out of Buckhead, didn’t become the fourth largest incubator in the country without some spark. Home to a range of startups, the Village has nourished and mentored big tech names, such as Salesloft, Bitpay, Cooleaf, Insightpool, Motivo, Terminus and GreenPrint. In late 2019, the incubator reached a major funding milestone; since opening in 2012, the incubator’s startups have raised more than $893 million in funding.
Invest Atlanta – Invest Atlanta, the official economic development authority for the City of Atlanta, is designed to “strengthen Atlanta’s economy and global competitiveness in order to create increased equity, opportunity and prosperity for the people of Atlanta.” From attending SXSW in 2018 to partnering with local startups, the organization has been a major influence on the community.
Axis Replay – Gamers don’t have to play alone. In fact, Axis Replay encourages you to play together. The Atlanta-based video game and esports venue has gained traction and notoriety in the esports scene. Since Covid-19, the company has pivoted to cater online events but hopes to reopen in July.
Constellations – Situated in the old Southern School Book Building, built in 1910, civic and socially-based shared coworking space Constellations opened in May 2018 on Auburn Avenue. The space embodies Constellations’ mission for civic mindedness, social consciousness and cultural creativity. The 7,500-square-foot space is home to 18 small and medium-size companies. About 50% of the tenants are nonprofits, and 60% are women-led businesses.
The Lola – The Lola, a womxn’s club and community, is a safe place for all womxn (all cisgender, transgender and anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome). Located in the Old Fourth Ward, The Lola’s 5,000 square foot space includes quiet work areas, a bar and café, private mother’s rooms, a screening and theater area, a beauty room with six vanity stations, multiple conference rooms and a podcast studio. The community melds collaboration, womxn power, inclusion and more under one roof.
FRQNCY Media – Podcasts are the hottest form of media at the moment. FRQNCY Media knows this. The podcasting production company made for podcasters by podcasters is the first of its kind in the local tech scene. Ranging from established podcasts to novices who just want to get their toes wet, FRQNCY has classes, equipment and more for all your recording needs.
Prep – There’s never too many chefs in the kitchen at Prep. This kitchen co-working/community kitchen brings together small food startups and major chefs to cook, collaborate and connect.
Cloverly – Cloverly, an Atlanta-based software company, wants to help sustainability-minded companies mitigate their carbon-cost of doing business. Cloverly provides an API (application program interfaces), which calculates the emissions created from a particular activity (shipping a package or flying cross country for a conference) and gives the user an opportunity to compensate for those emissions through carbon offsets. Cloverly has raised $2 million from Southern Company, an Atlanta-based utility holding company. The company has facilitated 150,000 transactions and helped offset 10.9 million pounds of carbon.
Open Doors – Open Doors is a nonprofit based in Dekalb County on a mission to make connections that bring people home and end homelessness in Atlanta. The nonprofit recently launched a new program called RentBridge which helps people in affordable homes that may be struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19 related job loss stay in their homes. The program provides short-term rent payment to the 800 households Open Doors has worked with in the last two years. The organization is actively fundraising to maintain the program through the pandemic.
Last Bottle Clothing – Last Bottle Clothing produces sustainable clothing made from recycled plastic bottles. Unlike some sustainable clothing companies, LBC makes sure the entire process of producing the clothes is environmentally friendly and there’s absolutely no waste-product. Last Bottle Clothing was part of the Farm Startup Accelerator sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal.
Mini City – Mini City is a resource hub for assisting the homeless, and it tackles some of the biggest problems with homelessness—identification and employment. The social enterprise startup has streamlined the admin process for legal identification, vital records and employment forms, cutting the time from 90 days to two days. In November, Mini City was one of two winners of the Startup Runway pitch competition, where founder India Hayes was awarded $10,000.
TruePani – TruePani is a company working to reduce environmental contaminants and improve water quality and other cleantech issues. What began as a startup dedicated to creating a water purifying device pivoted to a startup that provides water quality and cleantech solutions, engineering services and data analysis for environmental and public health related projects.