The Rocket Ship Startup List: 2021 Edition

A year ago, in the wake of the pandemic, finding a growth-stage startup for graduating students hungry to dive into the startup community was about as hard as could be imagined. This year, thanks to arguably the greatest tech and innovation boom in history, graduating students have an abundance of opportunities to productively start their careers.

Each spring, I provide a comprehensive list of exciting, growing, hiring startups that are worthy of consideration as places to start or continue a career in StartUpLand. I try to be as objective as possible in creating the list, leveraging insider knowledge and input from VC and entrepreneur friends regarding who has real momentum. The objective criteria for being on the list is is a mix of fundraising (typically > $20m in the most recent round), scale (typically > 100 employees), momentum (typically growing users or revenue > 50%/year), and hiring (typically growing headcount > 50%/year, including a number of entry-level positions that would be a fit for recent college or business school graduates).

I try to include a few international startups each year, thanks to my VC friends in startup hubs like China, India, Israel, South America, and Western Europe. Pitchbook data is less reliable outside the US so I am particularly grateful to those who shared their local market insights.

Before listing the companies, I suggest checking out two of my posts where I give more detailed advice on how to select the right company for you and position yourself to secure a job — a playbook that is more important than ever in this competitive environment:

Once you have reviewed this framework for deciding what you’re looking for, review the nearly 400 companies (276 US, 115 International) below. As usual, the list is organized by location. Even in an era of remote work, I advise my students (borrowing a bit from David Brooks) to select a geographical particular community to invest in and contribute to over the long term. Similar to last year, the list is also organized by sector and we created an Airtable to make it easy to navigate.

I’m sure I made many mistakes and omissions and I thank you in advance for any feedback you might have — the wisdom of the crowd definitely makes this list better. Very special thanks to the indomitable Shreyas Nair of Harvard Business School and Sequoia, who spent countless hours helping me sort and resort the list. Without further ado:

Here is the Airtable link for the 276 US companies:

The geographic spread is as follows:

  • Boston: 24
  • LA: 18
  • NYC: 60
  • SF/Bay Area: 155
  • Other (Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin): 19

And here is the Airtable link for the 115 non-US companies:

The geographic spread is as follows

  • China: 13
  • India: 35
  • Israel: 14
  • South America: 28
  • Europe: 25

Disclosure: Among the listed companies, the following are Flybridge portfolio companies — Bowery, Chief, Codecademy, FalconX, Imperfect Foods, Infracommerce, MadeiraMadeira, NS1, and Splice

As always, feedback welcome!

Former entrepreneur turned VC @Flybridge, teach @HBS, author of Entering StartUpLand and Mastering the VC Game

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