We’re kicking off the GeekWire Awards voting today, and we’re starting with a big one: Startup of the Year.
One of 13 categories at the GeekWire Awards, Startup of the Year recognizes fast-growing companies that are less than four years old and have the opportunity to shake up big industries. We’ve got a great line-up of finalists this year, so make sure to cast your ballot below.
But before we get rolling with the GeekWire Awards voting, here’s a quick primer on the process.
Over the past few weeks, GeekWire collected hundreds of nominations from the community in 13 categories, ranging from Young Entrepreneur of Year to Next Tech Titan to Geekiest Office Space. In conjunction with our judging panel, we then sifted through the nominations to come up with five finalists in each category.
Over the next two weeks, we will open voting in each of 13 categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. The winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards on May 7th at the EMP in Seattle — presented by Wave. It’s a giant party that celebrates innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit in the Pacific Northwest.
The Startup of the Year category is presented by sponsor 9Mile Labs, the Seattle-based business accelerator.
Check back to GeekWire at 2 p.m. today for voting in the Innovation of the Year category.
Now, let’s get things rolling. Vote for Startup of the Year here and continue reading for background on each finalist:
Koru: Recent college grads are dreadfully underemployed, yet many companies can’t find enough qualified applicants to fill key roles. That’s where Koru steps in. The Seattle company, co-founded by Onvia co-founder Kristen Hamilton, serves as a “coach and connector” for young people trying to break into the workforce.
Since raising an $8 million series A funding round from Maveron and others earlier this year, the company has continued to sign up universities such as the University of Washington, as well as employers like LinkedIn, Zulily and Yelp.
“Our vision in the next few years is to level the playing field for young people so that all have access to opportunities based on what they have shown they can do, and to provide an efficient and effective lens to select and hire the talent that will best serve employers,” Hamilton told GeekWire.
OfferUp: CraigsList is still the undisputed leader in classified listings, yet the site looks much as it did in the late 90s. OfferUp is looking to bring a fresh approach to classifieds, helping everyday folks buy and sell everything from bicycles to baby strollers to business equipment.
CEO Nick Huzar has played his cards pretty close to vest, declining comments about OfferUp’s business growth when contacted by GeekWire. However, the company is reportedly growing like gangbusters, and just last month Re/code reported that the company was looking to raise between $60 million and $100 million. Backers include Andreessen Horowitz and others.
Huzar came up with the idea of OfferUp after looking around his home after the birth of his daughter. The former DealSpringer CEO and T-Mobile product manager told GeekWire in 2012 that he “soon discovered that many items had to come and go into our home, or else we’d wind up on a TV episode of Hoarders.”
Qumulo: Founded by former engineers at Isilon Systems, Qumulo just publicly announced what it calls the world’s first-ever “data-aware scale-out NAS.” That’s a mouthful for sure, but Qumulo is solving a huge problem, trying to help corporations store and manage massive amounts of digital data.
The Seattle company raised a $40 million series B venture round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Madrona and others earlier this year, and just last month revealed more details on what it has been building for the past couple of years.
A handful of initial customers such as Ant Farm, Blind Studios, Sinclair Oil, Sportvision and TELUS Studios are using Qumulo’s product offering. “We tell them things about their data footprint that they previously couldn’t figure out,” says CEO Peter Godman.
Remitly: Transferring money overseas can be a headache for many immigrants, with high fees and inefficient processing. Remitly — a Techstars Seattle grad backed by Bezos Expeditions, Trilogy, QED and others — wants to remove that friction.
While rivals typically charge as much as 7.9 percent for money transfers, Remitly reduces its fee to about two percent with a high-tech approach that eliminates forms, codes and agents. The service is currently available for those sending money to India and the Philippines, the latter being its first market where Remitly is now transferring more than $100 million annually.
Remitly just last month raised another $12.5 million from DFJ, DN Capital and others, money it plans to use to expand into other markets. The 70-person company continues to grow, with CEO Matt Oppenheimer saying that they are focused on “building the best mobile product to send money internationally.”
Shippable: If “software is eating the world,” Shippable wants to make sure developers ship that code faster, creating even more groundbreaking applications. The Seattle company, co-founded by former Microsoft product managers Avi Cavale and Manisha Sahasrabudhe, scored an $8 million funding round last November, even though they weren’t actively looking for money.
Backers of the 2-year-old company, which already boasts 40,000 developers and 6,800 organizations as users, include Madrona Venture Group, Divergent Ventures, Vulcan Capital and Founder’s Co-op.
Shippable says it can reduce an organization’s development and test lab footprint by 70 percent, improving application development quality along the way. The hosted service removes the need for utilizing virtual machines in the development environment, creating what Cavale says in an “automatic pipeline between GitHub and whatever cloud provider you want to use.”
Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the GeekWire Awards. This event usually sells out. And this year, things will be especially geeky as we open up the amazing Star Wars costume exhibit at EMP to all GeekWire Awards guest. What better way to get your geek on than go face-to-face with Chewbacca!