Unicorn startups are everywhere these days.
CB Insights’ unicorn tracker — keeping tabs on privately-held companies valued at $1 billion or more — is quickly approaching 1,000 companies. And earlier this month, GeekWire identified 16 startups in the Seattle region that have already reached this status.
As we kick off the new year, startup valuations continue on the upward trajectory. In fact, the average pre-money valuation for later-stage venture-backed companies hit $750 million last year, up from $431 million in 2020, according to the Venture Monitor report.
Since we’ve already identified the Seattle area startups that have achieved unicorn status, we thought it would be fun to think about which Pacific Northwest companies might be donning a horn this year. This is more of a speculative exercise, so to help us pick the up-and-comers we surveyed a dozen venture capitalists from the Seattle area to get their picks.
One important caveat: In order to eliminate the biases of the VCs — who not surprisingly often shamelessly tout their own startups — we requested that each deal maker choose a company that’s outside of their individual portfolios.
Amazingly, and speaking to the vibrancy of the Pacific Northwest startup scene, only two venture capitalists picked the same company.
Here’s who the venture capitalists chose, with quotes on why they think each company is destined for big things. Pay attention to this group of startups.
Future unicorn: Flexe
Prediction made by: Anthony Bontrager, managing director at WestRiver Group.
Quote: “As I noted in my predictions blog post for 2022, the pandemic shined a very bright light on the fragility of global supply chain and logistics and its underlying technological infrastructure. Creating more resiliency and intelligence in this area has never been more important and companies such as Flexe are solving the need for both predictability and flexibility.”
Co-founder and CEO: Karl Siebrecht, former president of aQuantive’s Atlas unit and ex-CEO of AdReady.
Future unicorn: Logixboard
Prediction made by: Kellan Carter, founding partner at Fuse Venture Partners.
Quote: “Logixboard is quickly transforming the massive freight forwarding industry by bringing real-time transparency and visibility to a market that has historically made money through opaqueness. Julian is a relentless founder that always exceeds an already high bar.”
Co-founder and CEO: Julian Alvarez, former partner at AIOS.
GeekWire coverage: Freight forwarding software startup Logixboard lands $13M
Future unicorn: OctoML
Prediction made by: Aviel Ginzburg, general partner at Founder’s Co-op.
Quote: “It is an extremely strong team … in an emerging and extremely important category. They have a very unique set of technology … (and) there is really just no solid competition. Especially as supply chain speeds up post-pandemic, the more need for ML on edge and things like that, they are just in an extremely enviable position.”
Co-founder and CEO: Luis Ceze, a University of Washington computer science professor.
Future unicorn: Wyze
Prediction made by: Andy Liu, partner at Unlock Venture Partners.
Quote: “They’ve executed really well on building low-cost consumer hardware devices with a strong onramp to consumer adoption of computer vision and subscription services.”
Co-founder and CEO: Yun Zhang, former instock manager at Amazon.
Headquarters: Kirkland, Wash.
Future unicorn: DexCare
Prediction made by: Yuval Neeman, managing director of Trilogy Equity Partners.
Quote: “A company we really like is DexCare, marrying modern digital technology with the arcane EMR systems to orchestrate demand and capacity within existing large health care providers. We have tremendous respect for its CEO Derek Streat, a 6X local entrepreneur.”
CEO: Derek Streat, former CEO of C-SATS.
GeekWire coverage: Providence health-tech spinout DexCare raises $50M
Future unicorn: Glowforge
Prediction made by: Yi-Jian Ngo, managing director at the Alliance of Angels.
Co-founder and CEO: Dan Shapiro, former CEO at Ontela and Sparkbuy and ex program manager at Microsoft.
Future unicorn: Syndio
Prediction made by: Heather Redman, managing partner at Flying Fish Partners
Quote: “It is early days for them still, but the big vision of using data to unleash the true potential of all workers and their families is powerful especially in a world where talent is scarce and increasing inclusion is low hanging fruit for employers.”
Co-founder and CEO: Maria Colacurcio, former vice president of marketing at Smartsheet.
Future unicorn: Fabric
Quote from Guyette: “Fabric is a key component of the modern commerce stack. By democratizing access to best-in-class digital commerce tooling, Fabric allows merchants who aren’t served well by Shopify, Oracle, or Salesforce (and other hosted platforms) to thrive in an e-commerce world. Why does this matter? For all Shopify’s success — and they’ve been really successful! — the reality is that commerce is incredibly large and complex. If you’re an omni-channel retailer, if you deal with B2B payments, or even if you simply grow large enough – Shopify might not work well for your business and the alternatives aren’t much better. Fabric gives scaling merchants additional speed, customization, and portability in their quest to deliver the best customer experience possible. Commerce is gigantic, continues to move online, and this world is rebelling against Amazon to stay relevant. Both Shopify and Fabric are arming the rebels – as it turns out, there are many different types of rebels that need help.”
Quote from Sandler: “Great team, timely value proposition for online brands and retailers. E-commerce has been redefined as much as it has been supercharged by the pandemic. Brands and online retail companies need to compete not only on price and selection, but more than ever on end-to-end experience. All that requires a robust tech stack which too many online brand/retail tech teams are ill-equipped to build from scratch, especially as they outgrow Shopify. We’re quite bullish on several companies in the region addressing this theme, and Fabric’s true “headless commerce” offering speaks to it beautifully.”
CEO: Faisal Masud, former chief technology officer at Staples and former manager at Amazon.
Future unicorn: Flyhomes
Prediction made by: S. Somasegar, managing director at Madrona Venture Group
Quote: “Real estate is consistently an important part of the economic landscape, it is very unique in that it blends emotion and investment in a very lasting way for many people – and reaches a diverse audience. And despite news around how renting makes more sense, in many cases, people have a desire to own a home and go to great lengths to do that. Flyhomes addresses this desire directly and speaks to the new home buyer. They recently hired a CRO showing a real focus on growing their audience. We have also seen many startups in the real estate tech arena indicating a big opportunity for both market and technological growth.”
CEO: Tushar Garg, former program manager at Microsoft.
Future unicorn: Textio
Prediction made by: Martina Welkhoff, founding partner at WXR Fund.
Quote: “I’ve been really impressed with how Textio has expanded their product offering and adjusted their positioning to respond to the increased emphasis on DEI in the last few years. Under Kieran Snyder’s fantastic leadership, I’m confident they’ll be joining the unicorn ranks soon.”
Co-founder and CEO: Kieran Snyder, former group program manager at Microsoft.
Future unicorn: Dooly
Prediction made by: Kirby Winfield, founding general partner of Ascend.vc.
Quote: “Dooly’s position at intersection of applied AI and sales enablement couldn’t be more timely. Modern workers are overwhelmed with SaaS apps and need help making multi-app workflows more efficient; nowhere more so than in sales and revenue ops.”
Co-founder and CEO: Kris Hartvigsen, former EVP of Strategic Alliances at Vision Critical.
Headquarters: Vancouver, B.C.