Advice to Grads: Join A Winning Startup

Around this time of year, many students are focused on finding a job in Startup Land and building their careers. If you have your own idea and no one can talk you out of it, that's awesome. But for most undergraduates and graduate students, they have no idea how to get plugged in to the startup community.  I gave some advice in my post, Seeking a Job in Startup Land, but I didn't give specific pointers to companies who I think are emerging winners and thus good places to begin your startup career.

For many years, I have been keeping an updated list of interesting, scaling start ups (private or recently public) to share with the students in my HBS class to point them in the direction of good, fast growing companies worth exploring.  I recently learned that Andy Rachleff at Stanford does the same, although it is lighter on East Coast companies.  Now that graduation season is coming, I thought I would "open source" and share my current list, organized by geography.  Note that this is my own imperfect point of view with imperfect data (full disclosure: Flybridge portfolio companies are hyperlinked).  Feedback welcome! 


  • Private: Acquia, Actifio, AdAgility, Affirmed Networks, Airbo, Anaqua, Applause, BevSpot, Bit9, BitSight, Cloudlock, DataXu, Digital Lumens, Draft Kings, Drifft, Drizly, Dyn, Ellevation, Evertrue, Fiksu, Globoforce, HourlyNerd, Iora Health, Jana, Jibo, Kyruus, Localytics, Nasuni, OpenBay, Panorama Education, PeerTransfer, Promoboxx, Rapid7, RunKeeper, Savingstar, Sonos, Thinking Phones, Valore Books, Veracode, VMTurbo, Zerto
  • Public: Akamai,, Demandware, EMC, EnerNOC, Hubspot, iRobot, Kayak/Priceline, Trip Advisor, Wayfair
  • Private: 1st Dibs, Alfred, Appnexus, BetterCloud, Betterment, Birchbox, Bloomberg, Blue Apron, BuzzFeed, Carnival Mobile, CB Insights, ClassPass, Codecademy, Contently, DataDog, DataMinr, Etsy, Fan Duel, General Assembly, Gilt, Handy, Harry's, Integral Ad Science,, Kickstarter, Knewton, LearnVest, Manicube, MediaMath, MongoDB, Newscred, Oscar Health, Outbrain, Payoneer, Quirky, Rent the Runway, Sailthru, Shapeways, Spotify, Sprinklr, Stack Exchange, tracx, Vaultive, Warby Parker, WeWork, Yext, ZocDoc
  • Public: OnDeck, Shutterstock
  • Private:  Airbnb, Atlassian/HipChat, Automattic, Beepi, BloomReach, Cloudera, Cloudflare, Coinbase, Coupa, Coursera, CreditKarma, DoorDash, DoubleDutch, Dropbox, Eventbrite, Evernote, Fitbit, Flipboard, FundBox, GitHub, GlassDoor, HomeJoy, Houzz, IFTTT, Instacart, Jasper Technologies, Jawbone, JustFab, Lyft, Monetate, Nextdoor, Okta, One Kings Lane, Optimizely, Palantir, Pinterest, Plastiq, Quora, Rubicon Project, Shazam, Slack, Slice, SpaceX, Square, StitchFix, Stripe, Survey Monkey, Thumbtack, Turn, Twilio, Uber, Wanelo, WealthFront, Zenefits, Zumper
  • Public: Box, FireEye, Horton Works, Lending Club, LinkedIn, New Relic, Palo Alto Networks, ServiceNow, Splunk, Tableau, Twitter, Workday, Yelp, Zendesk
Israeli (often with HQ in the US – either BOS, NY or SF)
  • Private:  BillGuard, Fiverr, Forter, Freightos, Hola, IronSource, Kaltura, Kaminario, Magisto, ObserveIT, Outbrain, Riskified, SundaySky, Taboola, tracx, Wochit, Wibbitz
  • Public: CyberArk, Mobileye
  • London:  Bla bla car, CityMapper, Duedil, FarFetch, Funding Circle, GoCardless, King, Purple Bricks, Shazam, TransferWise, Vouched For
  • LA: Cornerstone on Demand, OpenX, Rubicon Project, SnapChat, TrueCar, Zefr, ZestFinance
  • SEA:  Avalara, Julep, Juno, Koru, Peach, Porch, Pro, Refin, Zulilly.
  • CO: LogRhythm, Rally, Sympoz, Webroot
  • UT:  AtTask, Domo, Health Catalyst, Hirevue, Inside Sales, Instructure, Plurasight, Qualtrics
  • CHI:  AvantCredit, BucketFeet, Fooda, Narrative Sciences, Raise, SpotHero,  SproutSocial
  • DC: 2U, Cvent, Opower, Optoro, Sonatype, Vox Media, WeddingWire
  • Other: Kabbage (ATL), Open English (MIA), Yik Yak (ATL)

20 thoughts on “Advice to Grads: Join A Winning Startup

  1. Hey Jeff,
    Awesome article! Thanks for mentioning BevSpot. Any chance you could add a link to our website??


  2. Newscred is an outsourcing company. They outsource all the work to Bangladesh. Fires people when there is no work. I used to work there


  3. didn’t mean to knock you/your list… just astounds me sometimes how poor of a job some of our local startups do marketing themselves. I suppose DC area businesses – whether they be government contractors, cybersecurity firms or consumer facing startups – are a bit more comfortable flying under the radar. Oh, and Everfi is growing fast, too! cheers / grant


  4. beyond 2U and Opower (both of which are public), DC has Vox MEdia (raised >$100m from Accel, General Atlantic and Khosla), Rally Health (recently acquired for >$700M by United Healthcare), Optoro (just raised a $50M round from KP), WeddingWire, APX Labs, Cvent, SocialTables, SmartThings (recently acq by Samsung),, Sonatype, just to name a few… the lack of awareness of activity in tier 2 markets incl LA, San Diego, Boulder/Denver and DC is staggering sometimes


  5. This is a great list, thank you.
    It would be interesting to break it out by revenue/number of employees as well. And to post it on Github, so you didn’t have to do all the work! You may get a flood of founders submitting PRs to include their company 🙂


  6. Precious few hardware companies on the list. Imagine a US economy built on software companies: a two-level society of coders and McDonalds employees servicing coders. Not a self-sustaining model.
    VC is rapidly becoming irrelevant because its goal is to move from engaged, focused investing to mutual fund-style diversification and disengagement.
    When the software-obsessed VC industry finally figures out that mutual funds return less than the S&P500 – or, more importantly, VC’s LPs figure that out – the part of the technology industry that creates the kind of jobs upon which an economy can be grown will suddenly see a return of VC.
    Question: will hardware companies have developed alternatives to VC by then? My guess is yes. Like in farming, sometimes one needs to burn the field in order to get something useful to grow. Time to burn VC to the ground and start over…


  7. Jeff, speaking as the father of a recent college graduate., this is a very useful post. Thanks very much for putting it together.


  8. A lot of these have offices and job openings in more locations than just the ones listed. Twitter for example has positions in most of these cities and then some.


    • Nice list, David, thanks for contributing it. My list is subjective and curated – in other words, I didn’t include some companies on purpose if I don’t think they’re “winning”. Although many I’m sure I left out by accident!


  9. Jeff– nice list. Don’t forget Spotify, in both NYC and Boston — I think we’re a pretty interesting opportunity, and we’re definitely growing like crazy.


    • Thanks, Dave. I have them in SF. It’d be too hard to put everyone’s multiple offices in so I listed what I think is the dominant office. Is that wrong when it comes to Spotify? Is NY bigger than SF?


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