8 of the Most Unique U.S. Startups to Watch

by Jeff Sans · 42 comments

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This is a guest post courtesy of Jeff.

It’s always fun to examine some of the different start ups out there and see whose doing cool things.

That said, here are 8 of some pretty unique businesses to give you a little inspiration for your own venture. 

As always, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below.

Entrepreneurship is the new rock n roll, and startup founders the stars.

But with so many cropping up in the digital age, it’s hard to keep track of the best ones.

Only a few, however, stand out as being truly original and, ultimately, disruptive to other companies on the block. Here’s a rundown of the most unique startups in the tech space that are making waves in 2012.

BlackLocus

This unique B2B service allows businesses to keep an eye on their competitors’ pricing strategy, making organizational management, pricing and budgeting a whole lot simpler.

Having launched in 2010 it has gone on to achieve a $2.5 million equity investment. Rodrigo Carvalho founded the business after working as an IT consultant for IBM.

Expensify

Expenses are a headache for any business. Not just paying them but keeping on top of them. Expensify allows businesses to streamline their expense reports, through phone apps and desktops, making life for accountants much easier.

David Barrett, the founder, previously worked in engineering for several computing businesses.

Birchbox

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and with Birchbox a $10 a month subscription is all that is required to become that beholder.

The site sends beauty samples to subscribers so they can sample the latest beauty products and be better educated on what is available on the market rather than splashing out money on products they end up being disappointed by.

Giving power to consumers, it is likely this unique model will be replicated by other businesses in other sectors too. Founders Hayley Barna and Katie Beauchamp founded the business after studying together at Harvard.

Skillshare

Taking advantage of the increasing desire that people have to learn new skills in our increasingly DIY economy, Skillshare allows people to post up classes on any subject to be taught offline.

Classes to date have ranged from jewellery making to investment. So far classes are only held in 70 U.S. and international cities (having started in New York) but that number will grow hugely by the end of the year.

The founder and CEO, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, has co-founded other start-ups previously including All Day Buffet and The Feast.

Pinterest

Yes, this is another social media site but it takes the best of what is already on the market and combines it in one platform. Like LinkedIn it is invite only but like Facebook it can be used for general social, not just professional, reasons.

Founded by Evan Sharp, Paul Sciarra and Ben Silbermann in 2010, the site has experienced rapid growth; transforming the company into a household name.

Taskrabbit

This site allows users to hire a service or be hired to provide one within their local community. Tasks are usually unskilled, such as shopping or washing cars.

Given the recession Taskrabbit is helping cash strapped people earn some extra money by bidding for simple chores. A unique valuable service with a major social benefit, this business is sure to become a global phenomenon in coming years.

It was founded by current CEO Leah Busque, a former IBM software engineer.

BetterBoo

We all know shopping can be a social experience, but this website allows online shopping to be sociable too, so yes the predictable Facebook of online shopping label can be applied here!

Utilizing the aforementioned site and Amazon, BetterBoo allows you to choose what gifts to buy with the support and insight of more experienced shoppers.

Nick Chmura who founded the business is currently a senior at the University of Tampa and has secured $40,000 in seed funding to date.

Pulse Motors

Providing environmentally friendly transport in the form of electric bikes, their first (and so far only) vehicle is the Personal Electric Vehicle Zero.

Able to travel 30 miles at time before requiring a one to three hour charge, the PEVO could revolutionize the daily commute.

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