This is a list of the 200 startups in tech that have the most upside growth potential. We base this on a number of quantitative factors including revenue, user growth and engagement, unit economics and headcount growth. We also use qualitative criteria: domain expertise, quality of the founders and backing from top VC’s and angels. All companies are pre-IPO and have valuations around or below 10 Billion dollars. In short, our goal is to find the next Facebooks, Googles, Apples and Amazons of the world.
We decided not to be solely quantitative because different verticals have different key metrics — there are no objective, multi-industry benchmarks.
We know this isn’t comprehensive. If you think we left a startup out that belongs here or should take a startup off because of issues with growth, please contact email@example.com
How The Hockeystick List Should Be Used
This list is merely an initial screen test for a startup’s likelihood to succeed. Screening out startups that aren’t quality will help you avoid wasting years of your life and getting laid off. However, just because a startup is a “rocket ship” or a “breakout company” doesn’t mean you should work there. The factors you should consider are:
1) Do you like the people you’d be working with? Can you learn from them? Will they make you better?
2) Will your day-to-day energize or enervate you?
3) Will the skill set you learn help you achieve your end career goal (or next career goal)?
4) Do you believe in the company’s “why” or mission?
5) Commute time, compensation, work/life balance — studies show that these are essential for a baseline of satisfaction, but don’t make a job ultimately fulfilling.
The Hockeystick 10 Commandments
1. We are in a tech bubble. There is more capital in investment than there is demand. Social networking, mobile apps, on demand startups and overhyped technologies (i.e. blockchain, AR/VR) are all examples of oversaturated markets. That’s not to say there isn’t immense opportunity in these spaces — this list was made to disambiguate real, high-growth and promising early startups from the rest.
2. Current unit-economics of a startup are the best indicator of its future unit-economics. Counting on raising prices or automation to lower costs is risky.
3. All popular trends have hypecycles. Those that stay in these fields over the longhaul and apply them to age-old consumer behavior will be rewarded.
4. Prospective employees should think more like value investors than VCs. VCs can afford to fail 9 out of 10 times. Employees can’t afford to waste years of their life on a failed venture.
5. Startups working in existing markets are better off than startups trying to invent new ones.
6. Domain expertise (people), reason for existing (mission) and grit (work ethic) are the biggest determinants of a startup’s early success.
7. Most successful tech products speak to people’s most primitive needs; the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy.
8. A small idea with traction is more likely to become a massive company than a big idea without traction. Consumer behavior is the hardest variable to predict.
9. Raising money and too much PR often hurt a startup’s chances of success. Scale and attention, especially without demand, brings problems.
10. No one, including us, can predict the future