Building a startup from scratch is no easy task, but the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of entrepreneurial wunderkinds.
The five finalists in the 2016 GeekWire Awards for Startup of the Year are making a dent in the business universe, positioning themselves for big things in industries such as health, transportation, logistics, enterprise software and virtual reality.
To qualify for this award, startup companies had to be four years old or less. We received dozens of nominations from GeekWire readers over the past few weeks, and you can now cast your ballot for one of the five finalists for Startup of the Year in the poll below.
Over the past few days, we’ve been opening voting in select GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks from finalists selected by our panel of judges from community nominations. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballots, or visit here to vote in announced categories. All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave — on May 12 at EMP.
Cast your ballot here for Startup of the Year, presented by MyWorkNinja.
Arivale: Led by genomics pioneer Leroy Hood and venture capital veteran Clayton Lewis, Arivale has plenty of star power (and cash in the bank). The Seattle health startup emerged last summer, developing a new type of system that combines cutting-edge genetic analysis with personal coaching, with the goal of improving individuals’ health. Shortly after its launch, the company announced $36 million in funding, including cash from Arch Venture Partners, Polaris Partners and Maveron. Hood, a biotech legend who has started companies such as Amgen, Applied Biosystems and Rosetta, says that Arivale is poised to be the Google or Microsoft of a new category they are dubbing scientific wellness.
Convoy: Fresh off a $16 million venture round, Convoy keeps on trucking. The Seattle startup, whose backers include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi and others, is developing an on-demand service that matches trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight. Convoy has built a smartphone-based, Uber-like system that lets truckers find jobs in a matter of minutes without the traditional legwork — and monetary cut — required when using a broker.
Envelop VR: Virtual reality is gaining momentum, and Envelop VR is poised to capitalize on an often overlooked component of the emerging category: Enterprise applications. The Bellevue startup last year raised $4 million, which included money from Madrona Venture Group, and then brought in another $1.5 million earlier this year from GV, formerly Google Ventures, as part of the series A round. Led by video game veteran Bob Berry, the company is developing an operating system for VR that will allow workers to more efficiently complete tasks inside a virtual environment.
Flexe: Flexe wants to be the Airbnb of excess warehouse space, allowing warehouse owners to easily rent out space on a month-to-month basis. And the Seattle company is well on its way, with more than 300 warehouses in its network comprising some 10 million square feet of space. The company was founded in 2013 by Karl Siebrecht, a well known Seattle tech executive who previously held top roles at AdReady and aQuantive and was also a founding board member of EnergySavvy. Backers include Fritz Lanman, Hank Vigil, Second Avenue Partners and SV Angel, with Flexe raising just over $6 million to date. Siebrecht, who started Flexe with Edmond Yue and Francis Duong, came up with the idea after he met the CEO of a wholesale wine accessory distributor who was struggling with warehousing issues.
Usermind: With backing from Silicon Valley powerhouses Andreessen Horowitz and Menlo Ventures, Usermind is developing complex enterprise software that helps make business operations more productive and efficient. The company, started in 2013, is led by CTO Przemek Pardyak and CEO Michel Feaster. Usermind raised $16 million in venture funding last month, with Feaster — a former VP of product at Apptio — saying that the company’s software “acts like a conductor” unifying data across various teams and applications.
Good luck to all of the Startup of the Year finalists, and make sure to get your tickets for the GeekWire Awards today.