2020 has presented an abundance of challenges and Atlanta has seen a fair share of them.
With the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty and some industries that have all but disappeared overnight, companies in the local tech and startup ecosystem have had to pivot, go back to the drawing board and make the dollar stretch in recent months. Atlanta Inno, a sister site to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, knows how hard these companies have worked and wants to recognize their accomplishments with 50 on Fire, an annual awards celebration of innovators, entrepreneurs and thriving companies that are blazing new paths.
What makes a company or person “on fire?” 50 on Fire winners are selected from reader nominations of startups that have had a banner year — leaders and companies with new funding, recent product launches, successful pivots and innovative approaches to solving problems. Five winners are selected across 10 categories, a combination of traditional industry categories with three new categories this year: the Food on Fire category 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; Hotspaces are coworking spots, clubs and other physical spaces around Atlanta that are the breeding ground for collaboration and growth.
The 2nd annual Atlanta Inno 50 on Fire awards, sponsored by JLL, will kick off online on Aug. 6 from 4-5 p.m. Join a fireside chat with JLL on the future of office space, a video reveal of the 10 category winners and a panel from a few select category winners on their milestones, achievements and future plans. Register for the event here.
B2B Technology and Software
BELAY – Offers virtual staffing solutions for executive assistance, bookkeeping and website services to clients. 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.
7Factor Software – 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.”
11Ten Innovation Partners – 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.
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 – This software company, which 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 the Atlanta Inno Tech Madness 2020 winner.
Morgan Drake/Fanboard – Takes sports clubs, events and venues to another level by creating AR, VR and MR games and experiences. The company’s mission is to help brands scale their campaigns while keeping fans connected and entertained.
Sock Fancy – This sock subscription startup faced a challenge when Covid-19 forced a majority of its corporate partnerships and collaborations came to a deadstop in March. 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.
WorthPoint – 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.
Bungii – This app, which 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.
SlumberPod – The Columbus, Ga.-based startup designs a quick-assembly privacy pod that babies and toddlers quickly fall asleep 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 – This software platform for public and private video surveillance gives direct access to law enforcement on one common interface and is trying to drive the balance between safety and privacy in the digital age. Fusus allows 911 responders and law enforcement to see crimes or emergencies in real time via video.
IRONSCALES – Based in Atlanta and Tel Aviv, this auto-phishing startup 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 – The point-to-point encryption firm has evolved to offer vaultless tokenization, a method that 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.
Bark – A software startup that monitors kids’ internet usage for potential threats. 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.
Corvado – A cloud-based solution with applications for cleanliness and safety compliance, program management, facility operations controls, visual business intelligence and physical asset management. Using Corvado, clients like MARTA can use real-time data to enforce standards and compliance for a clean and safe environment.
SpeciCare – This startup designs a personalized plan to alternative cancer treatments. 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, a platform that monitors diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity, announced efforts to contain Covid-19 and reduce risk to providers and patients by releasing a patient-reported outcomes survey app earlier this spring. The app has since been released, thanks to efforts from the startups founder Lucienne Ide.
Clean Hands – Safe Hands – The company partners with hospitals to develop hand hygiene solutions to improve patient care and save lives. 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 – 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.
BioIQ – 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. 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.
BitPay – Atlanta blockchain payments provider BitPay has grown at a rapid pace in the last two years. 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 – This cryptocurrency exchange and liquidity provider, created by the New York Stock Exchange’s parent company Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), 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.
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 – The smart debit card for kids 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.
Softgiving – 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 – 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.
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.
Beam Imagination – This creative studio blends photography, immersive media, aerials and experiential art to make brands stand out. They specialize in crafting stories around education and transportation working with major local brands and nonprofits such as the Zoo Atlanta, Teach For America, Wesley International and Delta Air Lines.
Urban Enterprises – 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 during the pandemic.
Mailchimp – The email marketing and marketing automation platform 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.
Food on Fire
Popmenu – Its 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.
Sifted – This corporate catering and lunch delivery service, which has customizable meals for the office, is a completely bootstrapped company that reached $12 million in annual recurring revenue in less than five years. 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.
gusto! – 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.
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.
Collab Capital – The Atlanta-based investment fund is 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.
Shadow Ventures – 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. The organization has opened its closed platform for free to anyone and everyone to provide content, know-how and other systems that have aided Shadow Ventures portfolio companies with seed-stage investing and startup incubation.
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 lab launched one of the world’s first fleet of teleoperated e-scooters ready for public use in May.
Atlanta Tech Village – A tech incubator based out of Buckhead, the Village 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.
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 7,500-square-foot space is home to 18 small and medium-size companies.
The Lola – The 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.
FRQNCY Media – This 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 – The 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.
Open Doors – A nonprofit based in Dekalb County that’s 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.
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.
Mini City – 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.
TruePani – Is 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.