2023 hasn't been an easy year to be a startup. While the market isn't short of spritely, innovative entrepreneurs, harsh economic headwinds combined with a pullback in investor spending have made it harder than ever for budding businesses to break through.
In fact, according to Crunchbase more than 212 startups closed their shutters in the third fiscal quarter alone – the highest number recorded in the firm's history. Yet, while many early-stage startups crumbled under the pressure, diamonds also emerged.
As investors continue pouring funding into artificial intelligence and consumer habits shift, many AI and subscription model startups have been enjoying rapid growth. Green shoots can be found across a range of industries though, so read on to discover nine startups not to sleep on in 2024.
9 Startups To Keep an Eye on in 2024
From childcare to generative AI and everything in between, here are some startups to watch in 2024.
One startup that's proved to have the formula for success this year is Bobbie – the first infant formula to be certified as organic by the USDA, and the fastest-growing product of its kind to enter the US market since the 1980s.
Bobbie’s growth snowballed after caregivers sought new sources of baby formula during the nationwide shortage in 2022. However, its unique-for-the-industry monthly subscription model has helped it maintain healthy profits from its loyal customer base in 2023.
The company also raised an impressive $70 million in funding in June to acquire the legacy pediatric nutrition brand Nature’s One, bringing its total kitty up to $142 million and helping to secure its competitive advantage in the industry going forward.
Runway is an applied AI tool artists can use to create AI-generated media, like video, audio and text. While the company has been steadily rising through the ranks since its inception in 2018, as generative AI becomes big tech’s new gold standard, the New York-based startup has enjoyed a very triumphant 2023.
In June, Runway raised $141 million in funding, nudging its market valuation to an envy-inducing $1.5 billion. The startup was listed in TIME100 Most Influential Companies 2023 too, alongside industry heavyweights like Nvidia and SpaceX.
To top it all off, the AI startup recently partnered up with Getty Images, one of the largest repositories of paid stock imagery, to develop a new generative AI model ‘Runway’ geared towards the film and advertising industries. With the new model expected to be launched sometime next year, we think this disruptive startup should be looking forward to a very bright 2024.
Tome is another AI startup that's been causing a stir in 2023. Founded in 2020 by two former Meta executives, Tome is a business-focused storytelling and presentation tool that leverages generative AI.
After growing steadily during its first few years, Tome started 2023 strong by becoming the first productivity tool to reach 1 million users in February. Since then, the tool has amassed over 10 million users, making it a household name amongst the business community.
This year Tome was also named one of Fortune’s Top 50 Innovators, increased its total funding nest egg to $81 million, and launched a new paid subscription plan – Tome Pro. So safe to say, despite a challenging macroeconomic environment Tome is on track to continue winning big into 2024.
Calendly is an online scheduling platform popular among business and personal users. Founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 2013, Calendly’s growth skyrocketed during the pandemic, and its steadily increasing users and successful funding rounds have allowed it to thrive ever since.
Calendly now serves a mind-blowing ten million users globally, and its tiered model is paying dividends, with the startup’s revenue growing to $276.1 million in 2023, up from $181.5 million in 2022.
This growth has allowed the startup to expand its team by 237 this year too. And with direct traffic making up 71% of Caledly’s total traffic, demand for the scheduling tool is likely to remain strong into 2024.
Gumroad is a web-builder and ecommerce platform that lets creators sell products directly to consumers. What started as a weekend project in 2012 is now a global marketplace that attracted 55.2 million site visits in October alone.
Gumroad really started to take off in 2023, smashing revenue records for three months straight, a feat that was attributed to a price hike it carried out at the start of the year. Now we’re 11 months into the year, Gumroad has hit $11.1 in revenue year – a figure which dwarfs the $9.2 million it generated in 2020.
Gumroad’s simplicity and slick user-experience are very popular among it’s user too, which puts it in good stead against its rivals going forward.
6. Vibrant Planet
Vibrant Planet is a data-driven science and cloud-based solution designed to support restoration efforts. Motivated by the overarching mission to mitigate climate change events like wildfires, the Incline Village NV based startup has been drumming up a lot of attention throughout 2023 due to it's data-centric approach and it's software as a service (SaaS) payment model – which is unique for the ecological sector.
Vibrant Planet raised $15 million this year from major backers like Microsoft, and Citi Ventures in October. Not only has this helped to raise its profile, it's also allowed them to invest further into their science team, and their cloud-based planning and monitoring tool, Land Tender.
With extreme weather conditions rising across the world, and current solutions failing to keep up with the times, we're we're excited to follow this green startup into 2024.
Writesonic is an AI writing tool designed to help writers overcome writers block and level up their skills. The startup has been around since 2020, but has witnessed massive growth throughout 2023 off the back of the recent AI boom kickstarted by OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
From April 2022 to February 2023, the writing solution has generated over 200 million pieces of content (equivalent to more than 25 billion words) and achieved an an eye-watering 500% growth rate as a result.
This rapid growth has seen the San Francisco based startup’s total revenue jump up from $1.1 million in 2022 to $5 million in 2023. If this growth pattern continues Writesonics's profits could exceed eight figures by next year – not bad for a team of 47!
Brightwheel is another Silicon Valley startup that’s been defying odds in 2023. Brightwheel is a SaaS childcare management solution that provides technology to preschools.
You may remember it from it’s 2016 appearance on Shark Tank, where it secured $600,000 in funding from Sharks Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca. Since appearing on the show, Brightwheel has maximised its investment by a staggering 1000%, with the companies most recent evaluation placing it at over $600 million.
Brightwheel’s successes aren’t going on unnoticed, either. The company was listed among the top cloud companies in Forbes 2023 Cloud 100, and it’s currently the #1 most popular childcare management software for preschools in the US. With more preschool facilities turning to tech to solve longstanding problems, we're excited to watch Brightwheel continue growing into the future.
Preply is a learning language platform that’s connects around 35,000 tutors to students around the world.
The startup, spearheaded by Ukrainian entrepreneurs Kirill Bigai, Dmytro Voloshyn, and Serge Lukianov, markets itself as an alternative to gamified, standardized platforms like Duolingo, by offering pupils personalized lessons based on their goals.
Preply recorded an growth rate of 51% in 2022, which is nothing to be snubbed at. However, after securing a major funding injection of $70 million this July to accelerate it’s use of AI, it’s likely the startup will expand at an even faster rate in years to come.