Enterprise startups proved a hot commodity in 2014, and there is no sign of slowed growth for these new companies looking to impact the business world.
Big investments and big exits accompanied massive valuations for enterprise stalwarts such as Box, Dropbox, MongoDB, and Zendesk. This stoked the interest in the enterprise space for entrepreneurs and investors alike, and we are just starting to see the fruits of that renewed interest.
Additionally, venture capital investing hit its highest point since 2001 early in 2014, setting a strong foundation for startups in the coming years. Here are 10 enterprise startups that you should keep an eye on in 2015.
Another one of the most talked about startups last year was Slack, the enterprise messaging platform founded by Stewart Butterfield. I've written about Slack before, but their story is worth revisiting. For an enterprise tool, Slack experienced unheard-of viral growth in 2014, and was quickly lauded as the communications tool that could finally upend email. Late last year, the company raised $120 million and hit a valuation north of a billion dollars.
Toward the end of 2014, it seemed like all anyone could talk about was Docker, the open-source platform for building container-based applications. Containers are nothing new, and Docker has been around since early 2013, but its popularity and install base grew tremendously in 2014. Also, Docker closed a $40 million round in the fall that increases its valuation and gives it the fuel to continue innovating well into 2015.
The growing trend of BYOD means that enterprises will need solid mobile security options to help enterprises deal with the slew of outside devices employees will be using. San Francisco-based Bluebox secures mobile data at rest and in transit, and gives insights into how corporate data is stored and used. Bluebox also offers a unique "personal mode" feature that allows employees to suspend access to corporate data and access their device as a non-employee at will. The company raised an $18 million Series B round in early 2014.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning were big in 2014 and MetaMind is poised to capture that energy for the enterprise. The company offers natural language processing, image prediction, and database tools for the everyman. MetaMind makes AI useful and accessible, especially for people without a PhD in computer science. The company launched in December with backing from some heavy hitters in Silicon Valley, including Marc Benioff and Khosla Ventures.
Illumio first made waves for its stealthy moves in 2013 and much of 2014, raising huge funding rounds. However, the company launched to the public toward the end of 2014 and is one of the security startups to watch in 2015. Illumio is a security product for the data center and the cloud, and it can create a security policy for each workload you're running. The product is unique in that it can secure applications anywhere and its security processes adapt to changes.
DataRPM bills itself as smart machine analytics for big data. The company sets itself apart bu using natural language search to analyze big data so users can point to a specific data set, ask a question, and get a visualized answer. The company offers insights and predictions, as well as a few other big data tools. DataRPM launched a couple years ago, but it raised its Series A round in 2014.
At Crypho, confidentiality is key, especially when it comes to transferring files or maintaining a sensitive chat session. The Norway-based startup was founded in 2012 and provides end-to-end security for your company's communications. Crypho is network agnostic and users can communicate between organizations as well.
Want to set up a development environment in 30 seconds? Bowery, a startup that uses the cloud to automate the process of configuring a development environment, claims that it can do it. Users add an application, choose software and tools, share, and collaborate. In 2014 the company launched the desktop version of its app and raised a seed round of $1.5 million.
Similar in concept to Docker, ElasticBox allows users to pull together app components and put them into what it calls "boxes." The goal is to make these app components reusable to speed the delivery time of application. You can use a box to manage settings or integrations or whatever else you like. ElasticBox wants to make it easier for developers and operations to work together on a deployment. The company raised $9 million in 2014.
Big data is a big issue in the enterprise. Cambridge-based Tamr emerged from stealth in early 2014 to provide a single window into all of a company's data sources. Tamr shows users how their data is constantly changing and how data from different data sets may be connected. The company raised $16 million last year in a round led by Google Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.
What do you think?
We want to know. What enterprise startups do you think we should watch in 2015?
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.