Ever since the wheel was invented, innovations have taken the world forward, right from sending humans to space to the ubiquitous handheld. Innovations have broken the barriers to information, made communication faster and most importantly, made our lives easier by changing the way we travel, shop, pay our bills and interact with people. While the rate of innovation has increased dramatically, as a natural corollary, things are also getting obsolete faster. That means companies not only have the challenge of staying ahead of the innovation curve, but also staying relevant for a longer period of time.
Companies that have managed to do both have been game-changers in their field, be it Google, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter. Now the race is on to find on the next Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter. And if we knew the answer to that question, we would be betting our houses on it right now. So, we did the next best thing. We decided to find the most exciting trends coming out of Silicon Valley. The idea being to not only look out for the next big companies in the making, but also find out more about how technology is poised to change our lives. Yet again.
We decided to cast our net wide and looked at companies across the technology, cloud, mobile, education, healthcare, automotive and energy verticals. Not surprisingly, there were several rounds of debate about which companies should be included and which ones dropped. Finally, the criteria for putting a company in the final list were fairly simple: it should either be using technology to disrupt the space in which it is operating or should create a market opportunity where none existed. The following pages feature 20 start-ups that we believe represent the most innovative companies in the Valley today.
Three of the biggest trends in technology — mobile, cloud and big data — are spawning multiple opportunities and companies are leveraging these opportunities to scale their business at breakneck speed. But technology has now thrown up new business models such as marketplaces, crowd funding and wearable technology and there are several new players in these areas. To make our list more broad-based, we feature one company in each category. Outlook Business visited Silicon Valley to get an up close and personal look at eight of these companies, understanding their business models, growth prospects and how they took an idea and built a company on it.