22 superb players in the New York start-up ecosystem to watch in 2018

12 Jan 2018

The Brooklyn Bridge, New York City. Image: TTstudio/Shutterstock

All roads lead to New York, renowned for its vibrant and diverse tech start-up scene.

Last year, we looked at 30 New York start-ups to watch in 2017. Ahead of the next Inspirefest Salon in New York City (NYC), an invite-only event, we are looking at the game-changers and the start-ups to watch in 2018.

On 1 February at Gizmodo Media Group’s offices on West 17th Street, the Inspirefest gathering will hear from award-winning Inspirefest founder Ann O’Dea (Dublin), Silicon Valley Bank managing director for early-stage banking, Claire Lee (San Francisco), and playwright and performer Heather Massie (NYC). Gizmodo CEO and Inspirefest regular Raju Narisetti (NYC) will open proceedings.

We decided to look at some of the game-changing platforms, investors and services to emerge in the city as well as the diverse array of start-ups worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead.

While Silicon Valley gets a lot of attention in terms of the US tech scene, New York – or Silicon Alley, as it is also known – holds its own in terms of vibrancy and variety.

NYC is home to Wall Street, making it pretty much the financial capital of the world as well as America, and a natural home for fintech and enterprise software start-ups.

Culturally, especially in terms of pop culture, the city’s streets are familiar to millions of people thanks to countless movies, TV shows and music videos, to such a degree that, in our imaginations, it is a second home.

This fusion of finance and whimsy adds up to an eclectic and razor-sharp entrepreneurial scene.

The scene is bolstered by long-established venture capital players such as Thrive Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Bowery Capital, Warburg Pincus, Insight Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures and Greycroft Partners, to name a few.

And so, ahead of the New York Inspirefest salon, here’s our take on what to watch in 2018.

6 inspiring New York-based game-changers to watch in 2018

Bank of Ireland Startlab
Bank of Ireland is first Irish bank to establish a start-up incubator in New York

From left: Tom Hayes, CEO of corporate banking at Bank of Ireland; Claire Mc Hugh, CEO and co-founder of Axonista; Jon Bayle, founder of Deposify; and David Tighe, head of innovation at Bank of Ireland. Image: Naoise Culhane

Last year, Bank of Ireland became the first Irish bank to establish a New York start-up incubator. The collaborative space, located in Manhattan on the 41st floor of 2 Grand Central, offers seven scalable technology companies the opportunity to gain access to a free incubation space in NYC for a 12-month period. For the first cohort, the bank selected innovative Irish tech start-ups Deposify, Pulsate and Axonista to join the incubator in Manhattan.


Founded by Nisha Dua, #BuiltByGirls is on a mission to inspire young women everywhere who see themselves as creators, whether their interests lie in coding, science, fashion, design or music. The key is to embed young women in tech from the earliest stages, and the organisation visits tech companies to prep them for internships.

Female Founders Fund

Founded in 2013 by Anu Duggal and Sutian Dong, Female Founders Fund (F3) is a seed fund that invests in start-ups with women founding members. F3 has invested in more than 38 companies already, including WayUp, Eloquii, Minibar and Tala.

Golden Seeds

New York-headquartered Golden Seeds was founded in 2005 to address the surge in women-led businesses in the US, but also the dearth in women securing venture capital (VC) investment. Led by Jo Ann Corkran, Golden Seeds’ goal is to raise substantial capital for women entrepreneurs and to encourage both women and men to become active venture investors, by providing a venue where they can learn and work together. Investments include BentoBox, Groupize and RippleNami.

Susan O’Brien outlines the 7 basic survival skills of the entrepreneur

Susan O’Brien outlines the seven basic survival skills of the entrepreneur. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Founded by Mary McEvoy and Susan O’Brien, LEAP provides entrepreneurs with coaching, training and project assignments. LEAP aims to support professional development, increase advancement opportunities, and promote connectivity between Irish professionals and Irish emigrant associations and organisations.

The Wing
22 superb players in the New York start-up ecosystem to watch in 2018

Source: The Wing

Founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, The Wing is a co-working space and social club exclusively for women, located in the Flatiron district and SoHo. As well as working spaces, there are showers on site, spaces to nap, a café and a library. With more than 1,500 members and more than 8,000 people on the waiting list, The Wing is planning an expansion to Brooklyn and Washington DC. It has attracted $10.4m in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

16 of New York’s finest start-ups to watch in 2018


Betterment is an online wealth management platform that connects investors with a customised, low-cost service that helps them optimise their investment returns. Its mobile technology enables users to manage their investments in a customised, diversified portfolio. Founded by Eli Broverman and Jon Stein, Betterman last year raised $70m in funding led by Swedish investment firm Kinnevik AB, bringing its total funding to $275m.


The brainchild of married couple Vicki and Rich Fulop, Brooklinen is an e-commerce platform that provides bedding such as sheets and pillows on demand. The start-up has raised $10m to date from FirstMark Capital.

Bowery Farming

We are living in the age of megacities and, therefore, why not urban farms? Bowery Farming grows its plants inside a giant warehouse under LEDs instead of sunlight, and inside nutrient-rich water beds instead of soil. It sells its produce at Whole Foods and other stores in New York. Founded by Irving Fain, David Golden and Brian Falther, Bowery also has an operating system for urban farming called BoweryOS. The start-up raised $27.5m last year in a round led by General Catalyst.


Citizen keeps residents informed of crimes in their neighbourhood using data sourced from 911 calls. The app has expanded from New York to San Francisco. Founded by Andrew Frame, Citizen has raised $13.5m in funding from Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund.


Eligible seamlessly integrates with healthcare systems to provide real-time eligibility functionality via APIs. Founded by Kately Gleason, a Y Combinator alumni, Eligible wants to make it easier for people to understand what they will be paying for when they interact with the medical industry, and ultimately reform medical billing. The start-up last year raised $25m from a syndicate of investors including Reddit’s Steve Huffman, AngelList’s Naval Ravikant and Dropbox founder Drew Houston.


Ellevest is a fast-growing hybrid financial services company led by former Merrill Lynch CEO Sallie Krawcheck. Ellevest is building a powerful hybrid financial services company, combining digital and human financial advising, and targeting the novice and experienced female investor alike. The platform redefines personal finance and investing for women with a practical, goals-based approach, aimed at giving women the tools they need to take financial control. Ellevest recently raised $34.6m in a major funding round.

Elysium Health

Elysium Health may not have found the elixir of life but it wants to help people to live longer and healthier through supplements. Its first product, Basis, uses a protein to boost nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide levels to increase the health of cells and slow down the ageing process. Founded by Eric Marcotulli, Dan Alminana and Leonard Guarente, Elysium has raised $20m in a Series B round led by General Catalyst.


A spin-out from the Google X moonshot R&D group, Dandelion is focused on the future of home heating, building geothermal systems to heat and cool homes in a less expensive manner than traditional systems. Founded by Kathy Hannun and James Quazi, Dandelion has raised $2m in funding from Collaborative Fund, Borealis Ventures and ZhenFund.


Flip is focused on the apartment subletting market and allows tenants to list available space and find reliable, trustworthy subletters via a peer-to-peer leasing marketplace. Founded by Susannah Vila, Elias Wehbe and Roger Graham, Flip has raised $3.4m in funding to date from investors that include Union Square Ventures.


InVision evolved from a prototyping tool into a complete platform for design teams to drive the digital product-design process from start to finish. It powers this process for more than 3m people at tens of thousands of companies, including 80pc of the Fortune 100 and brands such as Airbnb, Amazon, HBO, Netflix, Nike, Slack, Starbucks and Uber. Founded by Ben Nadel and Clark Valberg, it recently raised $100m in a Series E funding round led by Battery Ventures.


Jopwell is a job-hunting site dedicated to people from minority backgrounds. It helps these people find decent jobs and internships, particularly in technology. Clients include: Lyft, Airbnb, BlackRock, Pinterest, the NBA and Northwell Health. Founded by Ryan Williams and Porter Braswell, Jopwell has raised $11.75m from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Valar Ventures, the San Francisco 49ers and Magic Johnson Holdings.


Kinnek is a marketplace for small businesses to find suppliers and manage purchasing in a trustworthy way. Founded by Rui Ma and Karthik Sridharan, Kinnek has raised $31.5m from investors including Thrive Capital, Matrix Partners and Great Oaks Venture Capital.

22 superb players in the New York start-up ecosystem to watch in 2018

Loomia CEO Janett Liriano. Image: Loomia

Founded by Thiel fellow and Forbes 30 under 30 recipient Madison Maxey, Loomia is developing some of the highest-quality and most-functional textile circuits in the wearable industry. The Loomia Electronic Layer (LEL) can heat, sense and collect data such as temperature, rate of motion and frequency of wear. Loomia is leveraging a blockchain-based data exchange to allow consumers to sell the information collected from the LEL to brands that will inform product development and management. Loomia is led by CEO Janett Liriano and supported by Paul Raffin, former president at J Crew.

The Players’ Tribune

Established with the goal of enabling athletes to tell their stories to fans, The Players’ Tribune is adding an important new series of voices to the sports narrative and bringing fans closer to the games they love. The Players’ Tribune is chock-full of well-crafted interviews, podcasts and video content from various sports stars who are also investors in the platform. Founded by Derek Jeter and Jaymee Messler, The Players’ Tribune is funded to date to the tune of $58m from investors including GV and Kobe Bryant.


Quartet is medtech start-up founded by Arun Gupta that uses patients’ behavioural data to connect a quartet of stakeholders – patients, medical providers, behavioural health clinicians and payers – to deliver improved outcomes and lower the cost of care. The start-up has raised $87m from F-Prime Capital Partners, GV and Oak HC/FT.


Zola is an all-in-one wedding-planning platform that enables couples to manage and pay for everything in one handy place. Services range from from booking venues and paying for flights, to managing guest lists, tracking RSVPs and a whole lot more. Founded by Shan-Lyn Ma and Nobu Nakaguchi, Zola has raised $40m so far from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Thrive Capital, Canvas Ventures, Forerunner Ventures and the Female Founders Fund.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Get your Early bird tickets now to join us in Dublin on 21 and 22 June 2018.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years