5 Finalists Announced In Innovate! and Celebrate Startup of the Year Competition

After a year of touring around the nation and working with international communities, we’ve heard from hundreds of startups vying for the title of Startup of the Year. Today we announced our top five finalists, chosen by our judges, investors, founders, and most importantly you.

Yesterday our judges met with more than 50 of the hottest growing startups, where we learned about the problems they are trying to solve and in many cases how their technology, hardware, and services will create a successful impact on the world. Though there were many amazing startups in the running, and many heated debates, these are our top five startups for 2016 in no particular order:

Klickly From Santa Monica, CA

Focus: SaaS, Digital Advertising

Klickly is a data-driven impulse payment solution for social streams and mobile experiences. Their AI buy-button powers commerce in ads, emails; Klickly kills the sales funnel, allowing customers to purchase with a touch everywhere. Buy what you want, when you see it.

PodShare From Los Angeles, CA

Focus: SaaS & Housing, Real Estate

PodShare is a dormitory style live/work community, where a membership grants you access to spaces across the city to co-live, co-work, and collaborate. They currently have 50 pods across Los Angeles and recently were the winners of the Startup Showcase Los Angeles.

CoSchedule From Fargo, ND

Focus: Content creation and Distribution

CoSchedule is a drag-and-drop plan, publish, and execute marketing calendar. Plan all of your content in one place, manage your workflow with one tool, and create content even more efficiently. You can also consolidate your social media, project management, marketing, and blogging tools in one place.

ShearShare From McKinney, TX

Focus: ecommerce, Beauty, Lifestyle

ShearShare connects salon and barbershop owners to individual beauty operators to fill unused salon suites and stations on a temporary basis, allowing salon and barbershop owners make money on their excess inventory. Licensed cosmetologists and barbers then lease suites and booths by the day. With ShearShare, licensed barbers and cosmetologists — hair stylists, makeup artists, nail technicians, estheticians, massage therapists — have the flexibility of working in a professional salon environment without committing to a long-term lease contract.

Peanut Butter From Chicago, IL

Focus: FinTech, EduTech

Peanut Butter helps employers offer student loan repayment as a benefit. Their technology helps companies securely create, manage, and track the impact of student loan repayment plans. The company’s team handles employee enrollment, loan verification, and coordination of payment to multiple student loan servicers. Peanut Butter also helps employers attract millennial talent by offering student loan payment as an incentive. By facilitating modest contributions to employee student loans the company can help employers reduce turnover and hiring costs and differentiate their employee value proposition. They are currently operating out of the 1871 incubator.

Honorable Mentions

This year we had so many amazing startups that participated and pitched that didn’t quite make it to our tip five, but still deserve some extra attention. The following startups are ones to watch:

Cariloop – Dallas, TX

Grokstream – Aliso Viejo, CA

Proxbox – Memphis, TN

Admetsys – Boston, MA

Tesloop – Los Angeles, CA

my.Flow –  San Francisco, CA

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Written by:
Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.
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