25 Bay Area Startups Making a World of Difference

25 Bay Area Startups Making a World of Difference


Obvious bias aside, the San Francisco Bay Area is one bad ass region. We embody ingenuity and create products that people around the world love and enjoy on a daily basis. You're all very welcome. 

Though nothing more than a pen-sized dot on your average globe, a lot goes down here. Brilliant engineering minds, vibrant recruiting teams, and young CEOs are becoming a staple in the city—seriously, when else in history has running a multi-million (sometimes billion) dollar company before turning the big 3-0 been this common?

We've partnered with fellow local brand Hangar 1 Vodka, quickly establishing itself as an industry leader, to recognize other Bay Area startups making California proud. Google, Twitter, and Facebook need no introduction. Cheers to small companies doing big things that you may or may not have known are locally grown.

1 | AdRollEver been online shopping for a new pair of boots and the next thing you know that same pair of boots is in every advertisement no matter what website you're on? Some call it fate, but those who know better call it AdRoll. At the ripe old age of seven, AdRoll boasts the most widely used ad-retargeting platform in the world, calling household names like Google and Facebook partners. With a 97% retention rate, this team of young people connects brands with their "most likely to succeed" customers.

2 | AfterlightIf you're an avid Instagramer (#WhoIsntTheseDays), you've noticed more and more photos with thick white borders, light beams, and filters that go above and beyond the average X-Pro II and Hefe. This Sacramento-based company of two (yes two) people is taking over the photo editing market, establishing a new style that competitors are mimicking all around the world. Simplifying professional-level photo editing tools for the average person to turn iPhone pics into decent looking works of art--making ordinary people, places, and things look extraordinary.

3 | AGOGOWho are the all stars of the 2014 NBA season? Is the Ukraine on the brink of civil war? Do animals like music? Pretty much anything you ever wanted (and didn't want) to know about is now in one place, ready for your ears. AGOGO brings together top news, music, and entertainment platforms to produce one go-to place for people to hear their favorite things, all the time. Listen to what both Fox News and NBC have to say about the same subject matter in one click. Catch multiple ESPN interviews on a single player in one channel. Time to listen up.

4 | Airbnb: For the longest time, there was no reasonable middle ground between an expensive hotel and a dirt-cheap hostel when it came to world traveling, unless of course you knew someone who knew someone with a spare room wherever it was you were going. Now people can input their destination, budget, travel dates, and number of guests in exchange for a plethora of detailed, photographed listings of available housing options. On the flip side, people all over the world are uploading their homes, lofts, and yes, even castles, for their fellow humans to choose from and enjoy. With 600,000+ worldwide listings, Airbnb continues to change the way the human population explores the world.

5 | CreativeLiveTechnology is continuously allowing people to learn about the world and connect with one another, more so now than ever before. In a time where education is an expectation and tech degrees become outdated in a matter of years, CreativeLive presents a plausible solution. Introducing industry experts in a classroom setting to people in the comfort of their homes is quickly becoming a new reality. Now you can learn the latest version of Photoshop, get professional tips on launching an online business, and even find out how to market yourself on YouTube, all without putting on pants. (Please consider pants before your YouTube debut.) Isn't technology great?

6 | EvernoteFor the sake of explanation, take a moment to imagine the last project you worked on, whether it be personal or professional, and everything that went into it's conception. Maybe you jotted a phone number down on the back of a receipt, communicated through a long stream of emails, snapped iPhone photos of inspiration during your morning jog, and bookmarked related websites to use as references. Now imagine streamlining all of that into one place that you can reach on any device at any time. Yes, it's possible thanks to another boss-ass Bay Area business. Evernote, that "personal assistant that you never could justify the cost of because you should be able to organize your own life, but it's just so hard to keep it all together" app. Take a deep breath and download. 

7 | FitbitA tight group of NorCal folks have developed a series of products that show the average person how their daily routine translates into health and fitness standards, from a wearable wristband to a bathroom scale. Whether you're sound asleep in your city loft or huffing and puffing up a flight of stairs, Fitbit tells you how good/bad everything you do is compared to previous tracked days and industry benchmarks--a constant reminder that you're either a monumental success or the world's laziest sack. Sync your Fitbit device to your mobile device for a visual translation into charts and graphs, all at the touch of a button. 

8 | FlipboardThere is something to be said for flipping through a magazine--that simple satisfaction that you get from turning a page as oppose to scrolling through cyberspace (at least the 7x7 mag team thinks so). But what about the ease of clickable links, creating that beloved breadcrumb trail of related info? Flipboard has seemingly addressed all of the above with their digital, flippable magazine platform. Mags are no longer limited to text and photos, but are rather entering an age of multisensory experiences, incorporating videos, music, and social media into their once one-dimensional paper pages.

9 | GoProExtreme sport meets extreme photography. Thanks to this Bay Area company, people are documenting their journeys in ways we've never seen before. Together the world has taken jumps out of planes, dived deep below the ocean's surface, flipped upside down on snowboards, and climbed the highest mountains, all through the lenses of tiny cameras stuck to athletes' equipment. GoPro is a simple invention that allows those of us who have a harder time channeling our inner daredevil to live vicariously through the adrenaline-inclined.

10 | HomejoyYou have to admit that a clean home makes you feel a little better about the other aspects of your life, even if ever so slightly. From folded laundry to dusted baseboards, these maids do just about anything and everything you could possibly need, just short of tucking you into your neatly made bed at night. If for whatever reason, your house isn't sparkling as brightly as you had imagined, they come back and do it again for free. Employees go through extensive background checks prior to stepping through your door, if that eases your mind at all. From SF to Boca Raton, Homejoy is cleaning this country up.

11 | IFTTTIf This Then That, pronounced "gift" without the "g." If you like a song on Soundcloud, then it downloads to Dropbox. If it's supposed to rain in the next hour, then you get a text alert. If your stock drops by 5% or more, then you get an email. Using the trigger/action recipe, you can make your apps work even harder for you. It's like all your favorite apps are best friends and working together to make your life easier. What a happy thought.

12 | IndiegogoFrom spy cams to heart transplants, the amount of things that require funding in this world is endless. Indiegogo provides deserving causes with an opportunity to get the world invested in something bigger than themselves. Even James Franco turned to this Bay Area brand for film funding.

13 | JawboneOnce known for its wearable fitness-tracking device, Jawbone has since released portable speakers controlled by users' iPhones. The Mini Jambox brings pocket-sized sound to a world full of clucky hardware. It's not often that one company takes over two entirely separate industries. But what can we say? They're from the Bay.

14 | KitchitIt's not every day that you host a dinner party in your home, or maybe it is. Think The Real Housewives of San Francisco. Whether you're planning a romantic date night or impressing a group of frenemies, Kitchit brings top culinary talent into your home for the ultimate personal chef dining experience. Choose from pre-planned menus and customize as needed to ensure everything is perfect for your guests, whoever they might be. The chef grabs the groceries, cooks, and even cleans up! A-freaking-men. This local startup of less than 20 people is making a huge impact on this niche in the market, changing the way we do dinner. Now if only there were a hot waiter app...

15 | Leap MotionMaking the average person feel like the wizard they always wished to be. Imagine sitting in front of your computer, twirling your index finger, and making things move on the screen. A world without mouses and controllers is an amazing thought, one that is slowly becoming a reality thanks to Leap Motion. Keep up the good work, guys. We're here to offer our magical hands for any sort of testing you might need! 

16 | LookoutAs inconceivable as it may seem these days, nobody used to believe it was possible for cellphones to be hacked. That is, until the Lookout founders (and in those days, just a couple of super smart dudes) built the Bluetooth Sniper and used it to break into celebrities' mobile devices at the 2005 Oscars. Glad these masterminds are on our side now. This team of hackers hacks in the name of justice these days and is constantly finding new ways to protect our privacy, two steps ahead of the bad guys.

17 | LovelyWe can't quite think of a better place for an app like this to be birthed, considering the rental nightmare that is San Francisco. Lovely takes the best listings from various sites and places them on a map for you to interact with, bird's-eye-view status. Say you want to live in North Beach or the Marina, have a max monthly budget of $4.5K (who are you and can we be friends), need two bedrooms, and have a pet cat. Just fill out the simplified template and watch the city map populate with available properties fitting that description. It's like online dating for you and your dream rental home. Everyone deserves true love. And a cat-friendly building.

18 | Luvo: If it's good enough for Derek Jeter and Jennifer Garner's stomachs, it's sure as heck good enough for ours. Even Delta Airlines is presenting these pre-made meals to their first class flyers. From kale ricotta ravioli to apple cinnamon flatbread, stuffing your face with this food is perfectly acceptable because it's super healthy. 

19 | MedivationFor anyone who has ever lost a loved one to a disease and wondered if there was anything more that could have been done, Medivation has stepped up to offer hope. Bringing promising treatments still in development to patients of Prostate Cancer specifically, the team hopes to discover new ways to cure deadly diseases. The scale on which this company is changing lives is pretty remarkable, and happening in our own backyard!

20 | PinterestBinders and bulletin boards are so last decade. For daydreamers and planners everywhere, there is now a digital space connecting people to inspiration, pin-spiration if you will. Whether you have a doting fiancé or you're as single as it gets, it's never too early to plan that dream wedding you may or may not have someday. "Pin" bridal photos, dress links, and cake recipes from friends and strangers alike, to a personal "board" for later use. Do this for any of your obsessions (not limited to weddings). Pinterest is a veteran in the starup world, the perfect example of new technology reinventing an age-old concept.

21 | PocketYou've been stuffing your pockets full of everything imaginable since your days spent running around the playground, always sure you were going to need whatever it was you found later. This local company takes that concept and incorporates it into your everyday life on a digital level. And you don't even need Internet to do it. Funny videos, fitness inspiration photos, recipe links, and more can now all be stored in one place for when you finally run into that friend you wanted to show them to. Genius.

22 | SquareMaking phones and tablets that much more useful, Square is essentially a portable cash register. Nothing more than a tiny, for lack of a better noun, square that you plug into your digital device and swipe a credit card through. Transactions are handled through the downloadable software and customers sign on the dotted line with their finger. Viola! 

23 | TaskRabbitWhether you're the type of person that loves to help or the kind that needs help (you know who you are), this app is guaranteed to improve your life. Need an oil change, but never learned to do it yourself? Need help packing for a big move, but too lazy to do it yourself? Name your task, price, and when you need it done. Somebody, somewhere nearby is waiting to give you a hand. Not so helpless? Assist those in need and make a few bucks. Who says you shouldn't benefit from others' misfortunes?

24 | UberAlong with a handful of other companies on this list, if you haven't heard of Uber by now, we're judging you. Mean glares aside, Uber is popping up everywhere, most recently in California Wine Country. This fleet of average Joes and their automobiles gets people from here to there at the tap of a phone screen. Friendly drivers, known to supply complimentary beverages, snacks, and even Valentine's Day roses, swoop you from your stoop and drop you at your destination. Choose from standard cabs, slightly nicer regular cars (mostly Priuses), black cars, and SUVs when determining your ride options. Rate your driver at the end, but be sure to flash them a smile because you're being rated on your passenger skills, too!  

25 | ZooskDating on your phone, not quite to the extreme the dude in Her took it to, is the new normal and Zoosk is leading that charge. The app takes note of your taste in the opposite sex as you click around, promising to match you with people that you're most likely to find attractive. There's 25 million+ fish in this cyber sea, in 80 countries and 25 languages. Sometimes scrolling through dating profiles on your phone as opposed to a desktop computer feels a little less "somebody love me" and a little more cool, calm, and collected. The things we do for love, right?

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