11 startups to bet on in 2015

Story highlights

  • These companies have great technology, great leadership or massive investor backing
  • Or they have several partnerships and industry attention

(Business Insider)Every year we survey the field of startups selling their wares to businesses to find the ones we think are sure-fire winners.

These are companies with great technology, great leadership, massive investor backing, or tons of partnerships and industry attention. Or all the above.
Enterprise has become a hot area for startups in the last year or two. We actually had difficulty narrowing our list down to these select few.
    1. Watching your website
    Company name: Mixpanel
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Investment raised to date: $77 million
    Mixpanel grew hot in 2013 by helping companies figure out what website visitors were doing, and has been growing like crazy ever since.
    Today, it counts nearly 3,000 companies as customers, including Uber and Airbnb, and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, early Yelp and PayPal exec Max Levchin, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Yammer founder David Sacks. In December, it raised a $65 million round that valued the company at $865 million.
    2. Insanely popular chat app for work
    Company name: Slack
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Investment raised to date: $180 Million
    Slack, a chat room for coworkers, is one of the fastest-growing business applications ever, going from launch to a value of $1 billion in a jaw-dropping 9 months. It now has over 365,000 users (including teams at Business Insider).
    Prior to Slack, CEO Stewart Butterfield was a co-founder of Flickr, sold to Yahoo in 2005 for about $25 million.
    3. Hottest employer in the Valley
    Company name: Zenefits
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Investment raised to date: $83.6 million
    Two-year-old Zenefits has become the hottest employer in the Valley. It's causing chaos in the insurance and HR software industry by giving away cloud human resources software for free, making money as an insurance broker instead.
    It's on track to grow its user base 1,600% this year and is so hot that "PayPal Mafia" angel investor David Sacks (who sold his last company, Yammer, to Microsoft for $1.2 billion) not only invested in Zenefits but signed on to work as its COO.
    4. Taking the web hosting world by storm
    Company name: DigitalOcean
    Headquarters: New York
    Investment raised to date: $90.2 million
    Cloud-hosting startup DigitalOcean has grown extraordinarily fast in 2014. In 2010, they had about 100 computers on the web and by January 2015 had grown to more 132,000 computers, making it the third-biggest web-hosting company, according to a site that tracks such things, Netcraft. They have 380,000 customers.
    Two of the cofounders are brothers who met their third cofounder by a help wanted ad on Craigslist.
    5. The wonderful world of big data databases
    Company name: Couchbase
    Headquarters: Mountain View, California
    Investment raised to date: $116 million
    Couchbase makes a kind of database called noSQL that is particularly good at storing the kind of data used in big-data and cloud-computing applications. As those technologies grow more popular, Couchbase has been riding the wave, doubling its revenues in 2014, and landing many multimillion deals, it says.
    Its customers are AOL, Cisco, eBay, PayPal, Disney, Nielsen, Nordstrom, Wells Fargo, and many others.
    6. From nowhere to everywhere in an instant
    Company name: Docker
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Investment raised to date: $55 million
    In less than two years, Docker went from a tiny side project built by Solomon Hykes and a couple of his friends to a worldwide phenom, with names like Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, Dell, HP, and Red Hat knocking on his door, begging to to be his partner.
    Docker is in a relatively new area called "container" technology, which makes it easier for programmers and companies to launch and runs apps in the cloud. Hykes nervously showed it during a developer conference and it took off from there.
    Docker has now been downloaded over 100 million times and is used by companies like eBay, Baidu, Yelp, and Spotify. And competitors are starting to sprout up to challenge it, including Google.
    7. Making waves in the data center
    Company name: CoreOS
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Investment raised to date: $8 million
    Alex Polvi launched CoreOS in 2013 to make computer software for huge cloud-data centers. (He sold his first startup, Cloudkick, for about $40 million when he was 25.)
    In 2014, CoreOS made waves by taking on its former close partner, Docker, and released a competing technology called Rocket.
    Now there's an all-out battle on for control of this new hot new tech for developers called "containers," and CoreOS is right in the middle.
    8. Investors won't stop investing
    Company name: Nutanix
    Headquarters: San Jose, California
    Investment raised to date: $312.2 million
    Nutanix makes a device that has radically changed the enterprise storage market. To add more storage, you just plug together more of these devices. They include computers and software that makes them all work together like one big disk drive. It's an almost painless way to deal with growing amounts of data.
    Investors can't pour money on this company fast enough. A year ago it raised $101 million and was valued over $1 billion. In December it raised another $140 million, valued at $2 billion. Next stop: IPO.
    9. One of the hottest startups in London
    Company name: Huddle
    Headquarters: London
    Investment raised to date: $89.2 million
    Huddle is London's hottest enterprise startup, a cloud service that competes with Box and lets workers share documents and work together. In December it raised $51 million, which, by UK standards, was considered a massive sum.
    It also just hired a new CEO, with its charismatic founder CEO Alastair Mitchell moving into the CMO role. While Huddle insists it's focused on growth, not going public, all signs point to an IPO sooner rather than later.
    10. Bringing Facebook-like technology to the world
    Company name: Interana
    Headquarters: Menlo Park, California
    Investment raised to date: $28.2 million
    Interana was founded by two former Facebookers who created some of Facebook most popular data-analysis tools, Bobby Johnson and Lior Abraham. They are famous in the big-data world for creating the open-source tools Scribe and Haystack.
    When the time came to launch their own startup, Johnson persuaded his wife, Ann Johnson, a former electrical engineer at Intel, to be their CEO.
    Their mission is to do for every enterprise what Facebook did for friendships: analyze billions of events in seconds to bring you the relevant info.
    They just raised $20 million from investors like AME Cloud Ventures (Jerry Yang), Harris Barton, and Cloudera's Mike Olson, among others.
    11. A great idea with a lot of promise
    Company name: HasMetrics
    Headquarters: Seattle
    Investment raised to date: Bootstrapped
    Adam Herscher's deeply personal story about leaving a prestigious, high-paying job at Microsoft to found a startup called HasMetrics went viral in the fall. But he had good reason.
    He and cofounder Sean Andersen are working on a technology that could turn customer service from a painful overhead expense into something that helps the company generate new products and land new customers.
    Although not yet out of stealth yet, we understand the company already has some alpha testers and so far, so good.