Cream of the Crop: The 10 Most Promising Startups of 2018

As startup investment continues to grow, competition is fierce and new ideas abound. While biological and healthcare startups lead the field in investor interest, companies focusing on technology and finance continue to flourish. With so much ready cash available, startups with solid business plans and innovative products are rising to the top. Here are 10 up-and-coming startups to watch in 2018.


  1. Remitly

The mobile payment firm is riding high after a $115 million round of funding in December 2017. The Seattle-based company handles $4 billion annually, with users transferring money from the United States to such countries as India, the Philippines and Mexico. Founded in 2011, Remitly quickly gained backing from industry stalwarts like Jeff Bezos and Chris Devore. The investments paid off as the remittance company saw 60% growth in 2017. In 2018, Remitly is poised to expand into additional countries.

  1. Rivian Automotive

This Michigan-based startup has been flying under the radar since it first launched in 2009. However, they began attracting attention when they recently purchased an old Mitsubishi factory in Illinois. Rivian’s goal is to make hardy electric vehicles that can drive off-road and through water. They are now preparing to launch a new line of electric SUVs and trucks. The company is helmed by Robert J. Scaring, an MIT graduate with a doctorate in automotive engineering. Rivian was also able to lure Magna Powertrain’s chief engineer away to work on their new designs.

  1. Phantom Auto

Although founder and CEO Shai Magzimof is more at home in the gaming world, he has used his experience with mobile platforms to craft a system that helps autonomous cars avoid hazards and accidents. Phantom Auto relies on the assumption that self-driving cars are not yet accepted by the larger public. The company’s software allows a remote operator to take control of self-driving vehicles when they encounter an unusual obstacle or hazard. This new system has attracted substantial interest for its focus on safety, as it provides human backup in dangerous driving situations.

  1. Plenty

This San Francisco startup is aiming to bring healthy, pesticide-free food directly to consumers. Founded in 2014, the company uses innovative vertical farming technology and hydroponics to grow crops indoors. Plenty’s goal is to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in urban areas, allowing consumers to actually visit the products they are eating while they are still growing. Plenty recently received a $200 million investment from such venture capital firms as Softbank and Bezos Expeditions. In 2018, they plan to use their new funds to expand into China and Japan, countries which suffer from chronic land shortage.

  1. Grab

While Uber and Lyft rule the ridesharing market in the United States, Grab is king in the densely populated countries of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Founded by Harvard graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, the company achieved unicorn status within five years. Currently valued at $3 billion, Grab recently purchased mobile payment firm iKaaz. Rumors of an upcoming IPO have been swirling around the company since it hit unicorn status and 2018 could be the year. Grab recently opened offices in India and Seattle, fueling speculation that the company is planning on expanding outside of Southeast Asia.

  1. Shoof Technologies Inc.

Although a relatively young company, this logistics firm has attracted attention in the startup community for its new approach to wireless asset tracking. Founded in 2016 by Edlad Gotlib and George Flammer, the company recently received a $4.3 funding round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Movida Japan. The startup plans to use their wireless technology to expand indoor tracking for transportation and manufacturing companies across the globe.

  1. Zendrive

The San-Francisco company offers a novel idea to transportation companies: instead of directing vehicles to the quickest route, divert them to the safest path. Inspired by the congestion of San Francisco’s streets, founders Jonathan Matus and Pankaj Risbood developed smartphone software to monitor and correct dangerous driver behaviors. The software also tracks the safety of individual roads, redirecting drivers away from problem areas. Zendrive’s innovative technology has attracted $20 million in funding from such firms as Sherpa Capital and BMW iVentures, BMW’s venture capital arm.

  1. Vikey

Founded by a group of Italian entrepreneurs in 2017, Vikey allows renters to remotely check in and landlords to admit their guests without physically being on the property. Property owners simply use Vikey’s phone app to quickly allow guests immediate entry to their rental. Vikey hopes to corner the market on digital check-in with their new system. Forbes even named the company the “Startup of the Week” in January 2018. The firm recently received a hefty investment from Angel Partner Group and Lventure Group and is poised to expand its operations.

  1. Forward

The San Francisco-based startup is the second venture by Adrian Aoun, whose iPhone app Wavii was snapped up by Google in 2013. Aoun used his experience at Google and Microsoft to launch Forward, a primary care physician service that combines advanced healthcare technology with around-the-clock accessibility and same-day appointments in a sleek, modern office. The concierge medical service is currently available only in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the company plans to add additional offices to their roster in 2018.

  1. Owkin

New York city startup Owkin has been making headlines since it first launched in August 2016. Founded by French professors Gilles Wainrib and Thomas Clozel, Owkin uses AI technology to parse patient records and imaging files. The data is then used to predict the effect of new drugs on patients, allowing scientists to fine-tune clinical drug trials. Owkin’s predictive analysis has attracted over $13 million in funding from various investors, including Brent Hoberman, co-founder of the Founders Forum entrepreneur network.

Whether they are breaking into the automotive industry or redefining what it means to practice urban agriculture, these startups are poised to break out in 2018. By offering cutting-edge products to an eager base of customers, these companies are ready to attract eager investors and conquer new markets.