11 Most Promising Startups In San Diego To Watch In 2020
When you say ‘startup’, most people think about California. And while many jump directly to San Francisco, we took a look at San Diego. Startups there spring up like mushrooms, and when we were around, we decided to meet some companies operating there. Conclusions? San Diego really is an awesome (but often overlooked) place to scale-up your idea or business!
When you think ‘startup’ most people think about California but, while many jump to San Francisco, we look to San Diego! We’ve met some fantastic companies there, so we know that it’s an awesome (but often overlooked) place to scale-up your startup idea or business!
In fact, San Diego has a lot going for it over its more famous contemporary counterpart. While it isn’t a globally recognized IT talent pool like ‘San Fran’, it nonetheless benefits in its own way by being free of the latter's infamous rent and living cost issues. In other words, it’s an ideal location for a startup!
Want some proof? Here are 11 of the most inspiring or successful startups currently in San Diego.
First off, we want to showcase one of the first startups to impress us with San Diego’s potential. We’ve worked closely with Retention Rocket, so we’ve gotten to know plenty about the company and the SaaS product itself. Spoilers: it’s all good!
Retention Rocket specializes in retention marketing for the e-commerce sector. Through a wide range of features and integrations, the platform lets companies retain existing customers and, more important, measure the ongoing engagement.
Thanks to its versatility and white label approach, it’s already utilized by over 100 brands, creating more than 20 million in additional revenue. If e-commerce continues to grow (and, let’s be honest, it will!), support tools like this will become essential, putting Retention Rocket in a very good position.
Let’s move on to something topical - if the current epidemic has highlighted anything, it’s that the current range of remote-teaching options leave something to be desired. This is down to a combination of technology problems and teachers that aren’t experienced in the virtual medium.
The latter will improve in time, but there are a number of companies looking to fix the entire system already, like TakeLessons.
Alongside connecting local teachers with those looking to learn, this San Diego startup offers virtual courses. All teachers are pre-screened and the organization is currently active in over 2,800 cities in the U.S, and boasts 300 subjects to choose from. However, it’s the ability to offer virtual meetings and courses that has the most potential here, and one we expect TakeLessons to (at least temporarily) pivot heavily to.
It’s hard not to love concepts that utilize cutting-edge technology to help people in new ways. Aira does this by combining AI and AR to help blind or visually-impaired people. Inspired by wearables such as Google Glass (but usable with a smartphone camera!), Aira’s service enables users to gain a better understanding of their surroundings.
If needed, trained experts are also available to talk to, but the overall goal is to give users as much independence as possible. While it’s yet to make the leap to Europe, it’s already popular in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, so its popularity is growing. Further, it’s already supported by some big names, such as Target.
In a world that’s gradually moving towards smart cities and interconnectivity, Aira’s technology has plenty of opportunities ahead.
We don’t want to simply label this as “Airbnb” for property investment, but it’s a good place to start. DiversyFund allows property investors to browse current opportunities, acquire new assets and manage their portfolio directly within the portal itself.
What makes DiversyFund standout, more than it’s online ‘click-and-go’ design philosophy, is that it doesn’t require brokerage or intermediary fees - even accounts are set up for free, although the minimum investment is $500. This is something we’ve seen in other markets - in the fintech sector, for example, startups like Revolut and Nutmeg offered access to existing opportunities through streamlined, tech-driven solutions without additional costs.
Now, San Diego has the same answer for real estate investment - and it has the potential to go global, which is why it’s worth keeping an eye on!
Healthcare is one sector that’s increasingly relying on technology - but it also needs data. Larger data enables bigger breakthroughs and innovations, and LunaDNA does this by using a simple premise: everytime a user shares a medical file, they receive shares in the company in return.
What does LunaDNA do with all this data? In their own words, the medical information is used for “developing research projects with non-profits and for-profits to drive medical discoveries.” It’s an enabler across the medical field, with some strong potential to prove profitable as well.
Of course, the company is also aware of today’s stringent data rights and ensures users have the right to control and withdraw their data at any time! Because of its potential, and the fact it’s received plenty of funding from confident investors, we expect plenty more from LunaDNA!
Another health-based startup, Acutus Medical goes deep where LunaDNA goes broad. The company specialists in mapping techniques and solutions for various forms of atrial arrhythmias, which has a broad use in heart and cardio-related areas. It’s visualization methods enable electrophysiologists to get a clear understanding of a specific heart and its pulse.
Needless to say, this has global benefits, which is why the company has recently expanded outside of the US, entering into the EU earlier this year.
(Okay - technically this startup is based in Carlsbad, but it’s so close to San Diego that it basically counts!)
Although it’s been around since 2009 and has successfully moved through three rounds of funding, it’s hard not to define Brain Corp as a startup: this San Diego tech company is constantly improving and never settles for standardization.
Brain Corp is a team of robotic experts helping to create the hardware and software to support companies in various tasks. While the final application may vary, all their products utilize the custom-made BrainOS for navigating and adapting to environments, as well as managing data and report generation.
In other words, Brain Corp is building its own framework and system for creating elegant, smart robots, unlike the clunky obstacle-hitting varieties that are still found today.
As of this year, Brain Corp has announced partnerships with AT&T, Unicarriers Americas and Dane Technologies. That’s three companies that have very little in common, which goes to show the potential of Brain Corp’s robotic expertise.
We’re passionate about e-commerce, so you shouldn’t be surprised to find a retail focused startup here! Daasity offers analytics for online stores. Of course, we also know that each e-commerce can be different, so integration is essential. While Daasity is still expanding (which is why we recommend watching it!) it’s already compatible with Shopify, Google Ads and Amazon. However, there are some that are currently planned, such as Pinterest, and others that seem to be absent, such as Magento.
Given the rise of e-commerce solutions in the wake of the recent epidemic, Daasity’s pre-built dashboards might find an audience in businesses that have had to accelerate their online shopping plans. Whether it’s viable for more advanced purposes remains to be seen.
Despite being around for 5 years, Platform Science is certainly taking the ‘slow and steady’ route. The company provides IoT fleet management telemetrics. Essentially, though the use of IoT-enabled hardware, it enables both fleet operators and individual drivers to track and manage vehicles as needed.
Of course, many reporting products already exist - what we like about Platform Science is that it also enables reporting on driving safety and performance, generating as many insights as possible, rather than the basic factors. This makes it a strong choice as an enterprise-level product.
In fact, the company arranged a deal with Schneider National in the US, helping them to better move a 9.3 million mileage of annual freight operations.
Check how we developed an advanced enterprise-level IoT monitoring solution for energy grids: LV CloudCheck case study
Speaking of freight and logistics, here’s another startup that’s looking to enhance how we transport and deliver goods! TuSimple is focused on providing autonomous driving solutions for the freight industry.
In fact, last year the startup earned over $200 million in funding and secured that elusive ‘unicorn’ status that so many dream of - certainly a strong sign of things to come!
The move itself should come as no surprise, as companies like Tesla have been promoting this technology (but ultimately not showing 100% road-safe results as of yet) for a few years now. However, whereas those companies are focused on individual cars and products, TuSimple is looking to provide freight operators with their own complete solution.
Currently, their “autonomous freight network” is active between Phoenix and El Pasio (via Tuscan - but yes, the company itself is operating out of San Diego), with future plans for Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. But after that, who knows? TuSimple is already partnered with UPS and the United States Postal Service, as well as tech partners AWS, Navistar, Nvidia and Sony, so they have all the individual elements for success!
Trust & Will
This is another great example of taking a long established process and simply using technology to make it as simple as possible. Trust & Will lets users take care of their eponymous estate planning - currently Trusts, Wills and Guardian documents - through their online service.
Not only is it affordably priced, it also removes much of the legal issues and costs for many that go through the traditional lawyer and legal-expert heavy route.
So far, things seem to be going well and the company even reported doubling sales between February and March. It’s safe to say that, so far, the model seems to be working!
Honorable Mention - Pierogi Truck
Finally, we couldn’t complete this last without mentioning the little startup Pierogi Truck. It’s always good to know where to get great Polish food (and it doesn’t get more Polish than pierogi) wherever you are, so it already has our business!
As you can see, the range of startups in San Diego is certainly huge. We know that not every startup will be the next Airbnb or Uber, but we also know that this is a great place to scale-up without the expensive costs or pressure of other locations (while still having world-class talent at your doorstep).
If you’ve got a great startup or a recommendation for one that we’ve missed on our list, let us know!
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