Top 10 sparkling startups in San Diego
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Public Domain photo courtesy of Pixabay

Public Domain photo courtesy of Pixabay

The natural beauty and great weather in San Diego doesn’t seem to stall startups, it seems to energize them

Go south from Silicon Valley, keep heading south through Los Angeles, and when you start marveling at the lovely scenery, you’re in San Diego. The eighth largest city in the U.S., and the seat of San Diego County, San Diego was the site of one of the first Spanish settlements in what became America.

Two startup drivers mesh well in San Diego – large government facilities (the largest naval fleet in the world is based there), and trade, since Tijuana is just across the Mexican border on the southern edge of town. Throw in the fact that the University of California, San Diego, is the second largest employer in the area (first is the US Navy), and the startup scene gets that much more supportive.

Great climate, intellectual resources, and a varied economy also draw entrepreneurial people to the area. Beautiful ocean views come with a price, but compared to Silicon Valley, San Diego prices look reasonable. While startup employees work long hours, at least when they take a break they can look at the ocean.

SOCi

Photo credit: SOCi

Photo credit: SOCi

Social media startups used to attract venture funding like rock stars attract groupies. Lately, lack of success changed that equation. So it’s all the more surprising SOCi, starting in 2012 during the downturn, raked in premier partners with big bucks. Perhaps harnessing intelligent software to unite content to power a social media management platform turned it into the SocMed tool enterprises could trust.

CEO and founder Arif Khoury’s resume stretches long, including stints as a Silicon Valley lawyer, a biotech early stage fund named Axon Ventures, and as a director for the San Diego Venture Group, which pitched in some early SOCi money. Also involved in funding rounds are groups like Grayhawk Capital, Silicon Valley Growth Syndicate, and Stanford University DAPER Fund. Total funding in four rounds from November 2014 to April 2017 ($8.5 million) is $17.75 million.

AttackIQ

Photo credit: AttackIQ

Photo credit: AttackIQ

Companies know hackers swing sledgehammers at their firewalls each minute of each day. Enter AttackIQ and their FireDrill security platform that does continuous testing and verification of a company’s security infrastructure. Even for the security and startup space they’re recognized as a fast growing company to watch.

Starting back in 2013, AttackIQ first received an unlisted amount of funding in May 2015, followed quickly by another placement the following November. Continued growth was rewarded with $7.79 million in July 2017, topped by $8.8 million in November 2016. Millions of dollars in funding helped catapult the company from stealth mode to enterprise player in a hurry.

Mitek

Photo credit: Mitek

Photo credit: Mitek

Remote financial transactions drop hassles and raise customer approval ratings for businesses. But how do you know if the person on the other end of the smartphone is actually the person you think she is? What if she could show you her driver’s license and you could verify it was her? That’s the kind of thing Mitek Systems Inc.does. They also provide Know Your Customer programs and Anti-Money Laundering regulation compliance, among many other features.

Founded before there was an Internet available outside research labs, in 1985, Mitek started down the venture capital road with $850k in October 2010. In May 2011 the company went public and gathered $15 million in post IPO equity.

Noble Environmental Technologies

Photo credit: Noble Environmental Technologies

Who likes trash? Waste service companies and  . . . other waste service companies. Enter Noble Environmental Technologies and their ECOR product line, which is an advanced, high performance, sustainable green building material. They can turn fiber waste into money via new products that start green and get greener as they recycle again and again, saving about 629.000 trees and about 112,500 cubic yards of landfill space each year (based on sales to date).

Noble started back in 1998, but the ECOR product line, such as building material made from used coffee grounds, came later. Two investor rounds from a silent partner in November of 2014 raised $6 million, spurring development of consumer products like handmade decorative bowls and recycled furniture and furnishings such as wall panels and veneers.

Ossic

Photo credit: Ossic

Those who love audio lament how ear pods cheapen sound and destroy quality listening. Take a listen (soon) to Ossic X: Immersive 3D Audio Headphones. The long name clues you to their advantage. They are more then headphones, by a long shot. And at $299, they’re relatively cheap for quality headphones, and those aurally match multiple drivers to your ear anatomy to provide the best audio immersion possible.

Funded by IndieGogo since July 2016, Ossic started work in August of 2014. In March of 2016 $1 million in seed investment was raised on KickStarter. Total raised so far is over $3 million as people can’t wait to get better 3D sound. Hello, virtual reality headset makers – first one to partner with Ossic will flatter the ears of clients.

Clarify Medical

Photo credit: Clarify Medical

Photo credit: Clarify Medical

Healthcare news headlines never stop, and neither does the search for lower costs and easier ways for patients to handle some of their own treatments. Clarify Medical developed their UVB Light Therapy device for home use to treat skin issues including psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and other chronic conditions.

Medical device development isn’t for the faint of heart, and CEO Jim Sweeney knew the odds after founding 12 earlier innovative medical companies. Starting research in 2014, April 2016 saw a venture infusion of an unlisted amount. That was followed in November 2016 by Serra Ventures pitching in another $3.6 million.

Raken, Inc.

Photo credit: Raken

Photo credit: Raken

Smartphone apps can do more than display kitten videos, and Raken Inc. shows that to the extreme. They claim to be the #1 construction app for daily reporting, and that includes photos, compliance benchmarks, and man hour tracking. Their app runs on Android and iOS and supports general contractors, subcontractors, and property owners.

Starting as a bootstrap in 2014, Raken juiced up with $2 million in March 2017. $2 million in seed funding may not seem a lot today, but most mobile apps struggle for funding around the price of a new car, not millions. This speaks to the efforts Raken takes to manage a complex process, construction, through a smartphone.

TapHunter

Photo credit: SOCi

Photo credit: SOCi

People love smartphones, and people love beer. TapHunter put those two together and became one of the leading companies in beverage marketing and management software. They sell their services to bars and restaurants, to distillers and brewers, and direct to consumers via their app. Using smart software wrapped around marketing concepts, bar owners show drinks lists, craft brews, and more to TapHunter’s subscribers.

With $50,000 in seed cash in November 2011, TapHunter brewed up $552.5k in June of 2015, following $280k two angel investors in December of 2013. Melani Gordon, CEO and co-founder, started the company and husband Jeff, now CTO, joined her soon after, doubling the employee count.

Grolltex

Photo credit: Grolltext

Photo credit: Grolltext

If the alchemists of old had a working crystal ball, they would have ignored gold as the result of their search and focused on graphene. The material, as thin as one atom, is 200 times stronger than steel yet flexible. Grolltex, an odd name derived from “graphene-rolling-technologies” uses research from the University of California, San Diego. That lead researcher, Dr. Aliaksandr Zaretski, is now the founder and CEO of Grolltex.

From the start date of 2013, Grolltex received two unlisted venture placements in July 2015 and November of that same year. Stealthy is Grolltex, but they have released new about the world’s most sensitive strain sensor that is also the smallest at one atom thick. Not one millimeter thick, but one atom thick.

Apmetrix Inc.

Photo credit: Apmetrix

Photo credit: Apmetrix

Big Data swirls around us constantly. Gathering it is easy but learning from it remains hard. In the gaming and media publishing worlds, one company lighting the way is Apmetrix Inc. Customizable interfaces, drag and drop visualization for reports, and no SQL commands make Apmetrix a hot product in video gaming, virtual reality, the mobile space, and multiple forms of digital media. It both tracks your customer’s journey and also monitors subscriber bars and restaurants and help them draw patrons.

Founded in the fall of 2012, Apmetrix soaked up an undisclosed amount from four investors in the fall of 2013. The SaaS platform makes it inexpensive to serve many more customers than they have today. When companies like Analytics Ventures and La Costa Investment Group jumped in, that set Apmetrix a little higher in the SaaS Big Data pecking order.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin


James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don't read his books and articles.

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