New York is one of the best places to build an app business. In fact, it’s the number two startup ecosystem in the world (just behind Silicon Valley), according to Compass.
As a top financial hub New York has, unsurprisingly, seen a rise in fintech startups. But it’s not the only industry in which the city’s app startups are thriving. Food delivery, ticketing and healthcare are all areas that are inspiring app entrepreneurs and attracting VC funding. Although investors have grown cautious, compared to 2015’s funding boom, experts say that rounds are still frequent.
Greater diversity is a huge advantage for New York’s tech scene. A report by the New American Economy revealed that 36% of tech founders in the US are immigrants. Foreign businesses and entrepreneurs have played a big part in the growth of New York’s startup scene, despite current immigration laws being a roadblock to success.
From early stage startups to established names, we take a look at the app startups thriving in New York.
Roomi is a free app that’s revolutionizing the rental industry. The app syncs with Facebook and helps renters find the perfect housemate, not just a room. It’s currently available in 16 different cities across the US and Canada but is set for big growth. In September 2016, Roomi acquired California-based housemate finder Room.me which will help grow its user base by more than 25%. This year, Roomi raised a $4 million seed led by DCM Ventures, bringing its funding total to a cool $6 million.
- Led by: founder and CEO Ajay Yadav
- Funding total: $6 million
Zeel pioneered massage on demand in 2012. A year later, the startup launched its mobile app, allowing users to book a 5-star massage with a vetted therapist at home, a hotel, workplace or event in as little as an hour. 2016 has been a big year for Zeel, the New York-based startup raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Emil Capital Partners and acquired MassageNow to enhance their in-home and in-spa offerings. Zeel is currently in 36 US cities and adding more locations every month.
- Led by: founder and CEO Samer Hamadeh
- Funding total: over $15 million
Maven is a digital clinic that enables women to book video and messaging appointments with health practitioners. Created by Katherine Ryder, the healthcare app is not designed to replace your regular doctor but to provide a reliable resource to address health concerns. On discovering that a large percentage of its users were young women, Maven launched Maven Campus app for students which uses an unlimited subscription model. In 2015, Maven raised a $2.2 million seed led by Great Oaks Venture Capital.
- Led by: founder and CEO Katherine Ryder
- Funding total: $2.2 million
Stash is an investment app geared towards millennials. The New York-based startup calls it, “investing for real people” as the app simplifies the process (it has 33 investment options) and users can get started with as little as $5. There are no hidden fees and Stash charges a subscription fee of $1 per month. A year since launching, Stash has over 150,000 users and recently secured $9.25 million in Series A funding to continue its growth. The round was led by Goodwater Capital and Valar Ventures.
- Led by: Co-founder and CEO Brandon Krieg
- Funding total: $13.75 million
ALICE is a startup that’s reinventing how hotels operate, with its integrated cloud platform. The app acts as a concierge and front desk service for guests and a request management system for staff. ALICE is used in hundreds of luxury hotels around the world. Earlier this year, ALICE closed a $9.5 million Series A round led by Expedia to expand its operations across Europe and Asia.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Justin Effron
- Funding total: $13 million
Hooch is a members-only cocktail app that gives users one drink every day for a monthly subscription fee of just $9.99. Since debuting in New York, Hooch has expanded its service to several US cities and Hong Kong, its first international location. This year, Hooch acquired nightlife apps Flux and Grotto to continue its growth and bring its cocktail experience to more venues in New York and the Hamptons.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Lin Dai
- Funding total: $2.2 million
Described by the New York Times as a “bank of the future”, Moven is a mobile banking app that provides spending insights to help users manage their finances better. Last year, the New York startup raised $12 million in a Series B round led by Route 66 Ventures. The money was put towards international expansion and Moven has already made licensing deals with TD Bank in Canada and WestPac in New Zealand.
- Led by: founder and CEO Brett King
- Funding total: $24.4 million
Juno is a new ride hailing app (still in beta) that wants to entice New Yorkers away from Uber. Juno differentiates itself by putting drivers first; offering them equity in the company and taking a measly 10% commission on each ride, compared to Uber’s 20%. CEO Talmon Marco (known for co-founding messenger service Viber) started Juno in 2015 and has been tight-lipped about financing. It’s been suggested that a $30 million round of funding was discussed with investors.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Talmon Marco
- Funding total: undisclosed
TodayTix, a mobile app for last minute discount theatre tickets, first conquered Broadway before expanding beyond New York to eight US cities and London. Founded by theatre producers Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer, its mobile technology is attracting a millennial audience. In 2016, TodayTix raised $9 million in a Series B round led by Walden Venture Capital and TYLT Ventures; with contributions from well-known figures in the theatre world such as Robert Fox and Andrew Lippa (a Tony-nominated composer).
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Merritt Baer
- Funding total: $15.7 million
Umi Kitchen is a food delivery app that connects talented home chefs with time poor New Yorkers who want home-cooked meals delivered to their doorstep. Founded by CEO Khalil Tawil, Hallie Meyer (the daughter of Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer) and Derek Gottfrid, Umi Kitchen officially launched in September 2016. Umi has raised over $1.4 million in funding so far, with David Tisch, Adam Rothenberg, Hayley Barna (of BirchBox), and Elizabeth Cutler (of SoulCycle) all invested in its success.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Khalil Tawil
- Funding total: $1.4 million
Talkspace is an app that gives users access to licensed therapists through video and messaging appointments. The startup has signed up over 1,000 registered licensed therapists and says its user base has tripled to over 300,000 in the last year. In 2016, the New York-based startup raised a $15 million Series B round led by Northwest Venture Partners to expand its services. Existing investors Spark Capital, Metamorphic Ventures, Softbank and TheTime also participated in the round.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Oren Frank
- Funding total: $28 million
Vive began as a subscription-based beauty app offering unlimited blowouts (wash and blow dry) for a flat monthly fee. A year on, they’ve ditched this model in favour of á la carte packages offering 3, 5 or 10 blowouts at top salons across New York, the Hamptons, Chicago, and Los Angeles. This year, Vive closed a $2.3 million seed funding round led by Deep Fork Capital, which included investment from Y Combinator and talent manager Scooter Braun.
- Led by: founder and CEO Alanna Gregory
- Funding total: $2.3 million
App entrepreneurs are drawn to New York with its thriving finance, healthcare, fashion and media industries. The city’s startup accelerators, venture capital firms like the Female Founders Fund, and programs such as World to NYC, are helping to propel New York’s app startups to success.
See more roundups on the app industry in our startups series.