In Pictures: 10 mobile startups to watch

As a catch-all term, “mobile” can mean anything from a me-too app to an elaborate augmented reality platform.

  • As a catch-all term, “mobile” can mean anything from a me-too app to an elaborate augmented reality platform. While venture capitalists have been cautious since the 2008 crash, you wouldn’t know that if you simply focused on the mobile sector. Mobile is well into a gold-rush phase, and these 10 startups hope to cash in before the vein runs dry.

  • Gravity Jack Founder: Luke Richey, who was previously CEO of Elite Distributing. What it does: Develops augmented reality solutions. Why it's interesting: Augmented reality has underperformed so far, but Gravity Jack bucks this trend. The company has created augmented reality campaigns for major clients, including Coca-Cola and Bowflex. Gravity Jack’s browsAR platform features real-time visual search, interactive e-commerce, polling, social media integration, analytics and white-label integration. They also plan to roll out additional features, such as object detection, soon. Funding: The company has raised $220,000 in seed funding and is currently one-third of the way through raising a $1.5 million bridge round.

  • Enterproid Founders: Andrew Toy, Alexander Trewby, and David Zhu, all former IT executives at Morgan Stanley. What it does: Develops mobile security solutions. Why it’s interesting: Enterproid’s Divide platform partitions a user’s phone into a “work” section and a “personal” section. Divide creates a secure and cloud-manageable workspace on an employee’s personal mobile phone or tablet, giving IT control of sensitive data while also respecting the personal freedom and privacy of the employee. Funding: $13 million from Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and others. Customers: Preferred Health Partners and Arrow Container.

  • OneTok Founders: Ben Lilienthal and Jerry Norton; founders of the VoIP conferencing company Vapps. What it does: Provides a platform that lets developers add voice recognition to apps and devices. Why it's interesting: OneTok is a cloud-based platform that lets developers configure any word or phrase to invoke any activity. OneTok gives developers libraries that address standard audio hurdles on the device, such as echo cancellation, noise suppression and audio compression. For consumers, OneTok lets you interact with and use apps through simple voice commands. Instead of jabbing at buttons while driving or typing, users of smartphones and tablets need only to speak to control navigation apps, enter logins or initiate web searches. Funding: $1.5 million from RRE Ventures and Peter J. Solomon. Customers: Blackstone Technology Group.

  • payvia Founder: Darcy Wedd, a founding member of “one of the fastest growing carrier billing companies in North America.” What it does: m-payments. Why it's interesting: The m-payments space is highly fragmented and confusing. However, payvia has already processed over $2 billion in m-payment to merchants, developers, political campaigns, etc. Payvia powered text message contributions for both Obama and Romney PACs. Funding: An undisclosed amount of funding from Silverlake Sumero, Montgomery & Co. and Trinity Ventures. Customers: Obama for America, Romney for President.

  • ItsOn Founders: Dr. Greg Raleigh, formerly VP of Mobile Internet at Qualcomm, and Charles Giancarlo, who was previously President and CEO at Avaya. What it does: Provides a cloud-based platform that offers service plan flexibility and real-time service customization features for both mobile operators and service providers. Why it's interesting: Through ItsOn, consumers gain control over and visibility into their mobile services, buying only what they want, when they want it and with no restrictive plans or bill shock. Mobile operators and content providers, meanwhile, gain the agility to create and roll out new, unique and profitable services in hours rather than months or years. Services can be targeted to specific user demographics and devices. Funding: ItsOn just closed a $15.5 million Series B round of funding.

  • Bonfyre Founders: Mark Sawyier and Raymond Gobberg, who met as students at Washington University in St. Louis. What it does: Bonfyre is developing mobile social networks around events and experiences, rather than artificial “circles” or endless strings of distant friends. Why it's interesting: Bonfyre is a free mobile app for iPhone and Android built around the concept that sharing around experiences and events is a more accurate reflection of real life than static connections, circles or groups. Funding: Closed an angel round of $750,000 in early 2012. Customers: Bonfyre’s main customers are consumers who download the app. They have, however, partnered with corporate brands, such as the St. Louis Rams, to deliver an enhanced in game experience for fans.

  • Fixmo Founder: Rick Segal, formerly a partner at JLA Ventures, a large Canadian Venture Capital fund. What it does: Provides mobile risk management solutions. Why it's interesting: Fixmo’s mobile risk management (MRM) solution helps government and enterprise employers contain and encrypt corporate data, manage employees’ mobile devices, and monitor the risks associated with those devices, as well as the infrastructure which supports them. The MRM platform is made up of two complementary products – Fixmo Sentinel for device security and management and Fixmo SafeZone for application and data security. Funding: $31 million in three rounds of funding.

  • Bizness Apps Founders: Andrew Gazdecki, CEO, and Zach Cusimano, COO What it does: Provides a mobile app development platform targeted at SMBs. Why it's interesting: The Bizness Apps platform helps SMBs develop mobile apps, without forcing them to learn any programming. Even having a really good WordPress site, depending on what Theme you use, still requires at least a little familiarity with CSS. With the Bizness Apps platform, SMBs with no tech know-how whatsoever are able to develop apps for iOS, Android or even the Web with HTML5. Funding: Angel funding from Christian Friedland, CEO of, and undisclosed investors. Customers: Bizness Apps says that it has “have tens of thousands of clients all over the world.”

  • Leap2 Founder: Dan Carroll, formerly senior vp of digital at Icon International; and CEO Mike Farmer, who previously held senior management level positions at CAP CO2, kozoru, and Rand McNally. What it does: Develops mobile search solutions. Why it's interesting: Instead of a search engine or a “decision engine,” Leap2 provides a “context engine” that delivers “faster, more precise answers by combining direct-to-web options with social results.” Leap2 also has a “living search” feature. Many search queries – such as updates from sports teams or healthy recipes – are driven by an ongoing curiosity. A person’s interest doesn’t end at that precise moment; instead, a sports fan wants to know about athlete injuries, scores, drafts and trades as soon as they happen. Funding: $280,000 in seed funding.

  • SOASTA Founder: Tom Lounibos, who previously served as President and CEO of Kenamea. What it does: SOASTA provides automated app testing through their CloudTest and CloudTest mobile software, simulating millions of concurrent users to make sure a developer’s app won’t fail when it goes live. Why it's interesting: Many, many mobile apps just aren’t very good. Personally, I uninstall most mobile apps after trying them for the first time and finding that they freeze, crash my phone or just don’t deliver. Services like SOASTA’s should help correct that. Funding: $32.7 Million from Pelion Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, Formative Ventures, and The Entrepreneur’s Fund. Customers: SOASTA was responsible for testing NASA’s site for the Mars Landing and the Olympics website, the most visited sports website in history.

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