The Rocket Ship Startup List — 2023

Jeff Bussgang
3 min readApr 13, 2023

Where to Land…in Startupland

Each spring I provide a comprehensive list of exciting, fast-growing, rapidly hiring startups that are promising places to start or continue a career in Startupland.

This year has been a challenging year for tech. Layoffs and cutbacks have become the norm. One analysis suggests there were 168,000 layoffs in tech in 2022 and 158,000 in Q1 2023 alone.

As a result, the list has shifted. Some high flyers who are no longer hiring graduating students and mid-career professionals have been dropped from the list.

The methodology for compiling the list remains the same: leveraging insider knowledge and input from VC and entrepreneur friends regarding who has real momentum, we mix subjective and objective criteria in assembling the list. The objective criteria include:

  • Growth / momentum: typically growing users and/or revenue > 80% year over year
  • Fundraising: typically has raised > $50 million, including > $20 million in the most recent round, which closed in the last 12 months (note: independent, private companies only)
  • Scale: typically > 100 employees
  • Hiring: typically growing headcount > 30%/year and have a robust number of job postings, including a number of entry-level positions that would be a fit for recent college or business school graduates
  • Young: founded in 2012 or later

With the help of numerous VC friends in startup hubs throughout Canada, Europe, India, Israel, LatAm, and Southeast Asia, I try to cover international startups each year. Pitchbook is less reliable outside the US and so I am particularly grateful to the dozens of folks who shared their local market insight.

This year, I include nearly 500 companies: over 300 US companies and over 170 non-US. As usual, the list is organized by location although I decided to be a bit more expansive in including startups from all over the US instead of just the tech hubs given remote and hybrid work. That said, even in this era, I advise my students to select and commit to a particular geography. Investing and contributing to a community in the long term is valuable for both your career and your life.

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 and position yourself to secure a job — a playbook I have seen executed successfully now across my decades as a VC and entrepreneurship professor at HBS working with thousands of young professionals:

As usual, I am sure I have made many mistakes and omissions and so thank you in advance for your feedback. Continued feedback (and lobbying!) definitely make this list better over time. A very special thank you to the talented Aditi Sharma of Harvard Business School whose hard work and precision made this year’s list what it is.

Without further ado, here is the Airtable link for all 500 companies:

Disclosure: Among the listed companies, the following are Flybridge portfolio companies — Amartha, BitSight, bloXroute, Bowery, Chief, FalconX, Habi, MadeiraMadeira, and Zubale.

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Jeff Bussgang

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