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Convoy co-founder Grant Goodale accepts the award for Next Tech Titan at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The Pacific Northwest tech scene is known primarily for giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, but there is a huge crop of fast-growing companies ready to make the leap to become the region’s Next Tech Titan.

Past winners in this illustrious category at the GeekWire Awards have gone on to become household names in the technology world, with many successfully going public and becoming leaders in their categories.

Now it’s time to place your bets on the next dominant force in the Pacific Northwest tech scene.

We’ve opened voting in 11 GeekWire Awards categories, and community votes will be factored in with feedback from our more than 30 judges (see here). On May 2 we will announce the winners live on stage at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — in front of more than 800 geeks at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Community voting ends April 19.

This year’s nominees for Next Tech Titan — Flexe, Outreach, Remitly, Rover and Stay Alfred — are taking the industry by storm, bringing new technologies to the table in areas ranging from pet-sitting, immunotherapies and short-term apartment rentals. They’ve raised some serious cash in recent years to turn their big ideas into new products and expand across the globe.

Last year’s winner in this category was Convoy, a Seattle startup aiming to transform the trucking industry with an Uber-like system that matches truckers with the loads they carry. Convoy joins a list of big-name winners that also includes BitTitan, Smartsheet, Avalara, Zulily and Tableau Software.

Read up on the finalists below and vote on all the categories while you’re here. And don’t forget to grab your tickets here, as the GeekWire Awards sell out every year.

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Flexe: No. 93 on the GeekWire 200

Karl Siebrecht, co-founder and CEO of Flexe. (PRNews Photo / Flexe)

With the rise of e-commerce and customer appetite for rapid shipping, warehousing solutions have become an important consideration across the retail landscape. Enter Flexe.

The Seattle startup offers on-demand warehouse space for companies that want to compete with giants such as Amazon and Walmart in shipping, but don’t have the time or resources to build out their own supply chain. Flexe’s overall goal is to help those with unused space earn additional revenue, while enabling businesses to utilize a pay-as-you-go, on-demand model when they need additional warehouse space.

In 2017 it made a major leap, introducing a next-day delivery service, which the company said at the time would give brands the ability to reach 98 percent of U.S. customers faster than Amazon Prime two-day shipping.

Flexe CEO Karl Siebrecht said the company is “defining the new approach to the warehousing and fulfillment challenges that every retailer and brand faces.” In the coming years, Siebrecht envisions “a future where goods will move around the world similar to the way data moves around the internet — seamlessly from source to destination.” He hopes Flexe will continue to grow and lead the transformation of the $1.5 trillion logistics industry.

Outreach: No. 24 on the GeekWire 200

(Outreach Photo)

2018 was a busy year for Outreach.

Last May, the sales automation company raised a whopping $65 million round to bring its total funding to $125 million. In the next few months, the company leased a big chunk of office space to upgrade its headquarters and made its first-ever acquisition. 

Outreach uses machine learning to help customers like Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, DocuSign, and others automate and streamline communication with sales prospects. It offers one system to track all touch points, from phone calls to emails to LinkedIn messages. The software integrates with existing tools like Salesforce and Gmail.

Outreach more than doubled its revenue in 2018 and met all goals and metrics, CEO Manny Medina told GeekWire in February. Outreach now has more than 3,100 customer accounts and 50,000-plus users. It employed 315 people as of February and plans to reach 450 by the end of 2019.

Medina said the company will continue to invest in its hometown, with a goal of becoming “the next enterprise beacon of Seattle.”

Remitly: No. 7 on the GeekWire 200

Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer. (Remitly Photo)

Remitly is reimagining how people transfer money abroad, and it just announced a major deal with Visa to push that goal forward. The partnership lets people send money directly to Visa debit cards across borders through the Visa Direct push payment service, creating another option for international transfers.

Remitly describes itself as the largest independent mobile remittance company in North America, and it has more than 800 employees worldwide. In December it expanded its reach, and it is now active in 40 nations across the globe.

Remitly is one of the most well-funded startups in the region, having raised $175 million to date. In 2017 it raised a $115 million round, one of the largest investments for a Seattle company in recent years.

Going forward, Remitly will “continue to re-think financial services from the immigrant point of view,” said CEO Matt Oppenheimer, who is also in the running for Big Tech CEO of the Year. “They’ve long been dismissed and ignored by financial institutions and we want to level the playing field.”

Rover: No. 6 on the GeekWire 200

Phil Kimmey, co-founder of Rover, at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo)

Rover is bent on global pet-sitting domination, and so far the company is on track.

CEO Aaron Easterly calls the company the “largest peer-to-peer pet care marketplace in the world.” Rover allows pet owners to connect with more than 300,000 sitters.

In the last year, Rover has embarked on a European expansion that included the acquisition of a U.K.-based pet care company. Rover invested in a Brazilian company, giving it a window into the Latin America market, one of the biggest pet ownership areas in the world.

Total funding for Rover — often described as the Airbnb for pets — stands at $310 million, after a massive $155 million round last May. The pet care industry is estimated to be a $200 billion business by 2025, and Rover’s core products of dog sitting and walking make up less than 10 percent of that market, with very few incumbent businesses, Easterly said. The way people treat their pets is changing, he added, so the company will continue to expand geographically and add more services and types of pets to meet that trend.

“The humanization of pets — and the corresponding need to assist pet parents — is a global phenomenon,” Easterly said. “Our mission is not over until it is sufficiently easy and affordable for everyone to experience that unique form of unconditional love in their life.”

Stay Alfred: No. 48 on the GeekWire 200

An amenity area at 505 Tower in Nashville, one of the buildings Stay Alfred offers units in. (Stay Alfred Photo)

Stay Alfred could be our first-ever Next Tech Titan to emerge from Eastern Washington. The company is out to make a national name for itself following a $47 million funding round last year that will fuel expansion across the U.S.

The Spokane, Wash. startup leases downtown apartments and buildings in big cities and turns them into short-term rentals. The company handles the furnishing, cleaning, booking, and customer service for each rental. Customers are primarily leisure travelers or people who want a hotel experience with the flexibility of a furnished apartment.

Stay Alfred originally started as a short-term rental company, such as Airbnb or VRBO, but pivoted to a hybrid of a hotel and vacation rental. Jordan Allen, who co-founded the company when he was 28 years old, previously described his business as “Marriott meets Airbnb.”

Going forward, Allen predicts that by “2025, short-term rentals will be part of every upscale apartment building.” As the “pioneers of the travel apartment concept,” Stay Alfred will surpass 1 million guests by 2020, Allen predicted.

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