The Top Startups of 2019: Companies Around the Globe That Are Disrupting Industries and Attracting Talent


As you can see, the lists are peppered with the expected software, fintech, and e-commerce companies. But they also feature plenty of upstarts intent on fueling new industries (cannabis, cryptocurrency, e-learning) or upending mature industries (think automotive, banking, and healthcare). Many of the startups are still small and scrappy, while a few have achieved unicorn status by reaching a valuation over US$1 billion. At least one, India’s hotel superpower Oyo, has become a “decacorn,” with a US$10 billion valuation.

We found a few other intriguing tidbits to savor in the 2019 lists:

Innovation hubs. Despite the expense of doing business there, Silicon Valley continues to be the cradle of more disruptive, mind-blowing startups than anywhere else in the United States — and maybe the world. Twenty-eight of the top 50 U.S. startups call the Bay Area home. Another nine are headquartered in New York City and six in Los Angeles. Other innovative hotbeds include Paris (23 startups), London (22), São Paulo (21), Toronto (20), Berlin (20), Sydney (14), and Bengaluru (13).

Heads in the cloud? A LinkedIn Learning report earlier this year found cloud computing to be the No. 1 hard skill that companies are searching for. And, sure enough, 10 of the 50 U.S. startups on our list have cloud computing as one of the top three skills they’re looking for. In Australia, six of the top 25 show cloud computing as a priority. But interestingly, none of the top startups in either Canada or India show an acute need for cloud computing. In India, it’s all about programming languages — SQL is needed at 14 and C++ at 9.

Inside dope. Dosist, a startup best known for its cannabis dose pen, is No. 2 on the U.S. list. In Canada, two cannabis-related companies made the Top 25 — CCI advises businesses on regulatory issues involving cannabis (and has an open position for a general manager of toxicology) and Ample Organics has created software that helps cannabis producers track everything from growth to clientele.

Auto pilots. In some cases, startups are creating brand-new industries; in other cases, they’re turning old industries inside out. In the United States, Zoox, Aurora, Voyage, and Nuro are all pushing to make the day of the autonomous vehicle arrive as quickly as possible. In the Netherlands, Lightyear has created a prototype of a lightweight electric car that uses sunlight to recharge while on the road — the hood and roof have solar panels. Lightyear’s Dutch counterpart, Etergo, is developing an electric scooter that will be available next year. U.S. startups Bird and Lime have already hit the streets with thousands of dockless electric scooters in major metro areas.

Picture perfect. Around the globe, fast-growing young companies are on the hunt for people who have digital and social media chops and know their way around Instagram and Adobe Photoshop. That need seems particularly acute in France, where seven of the top 25 startups, and two of the top three, are in need of new employees with Photoshop skills.

Sounds like a winner. For those of you who think the name of a company is everything, you may have a point. Two of the companies on our lists are called Sonder, one is an Australian internet company that provides home security and the other is a U.S. firm that is transforming apartment rentals into hotel experiences. WhiteHat GB is a U.K. startup that offers apprenticeships as an alternative launchpad for careers, while WhiteHat Jr is an e-learning company in India that teaches coding to kids from 6 to 14. Ritual is a California-based business that offers vitamins and supplements by subscriptions while is a Toronto firm that provides a mobile app that allows “social ordering” at 5,000 restaurants across Canada.

Recruiting for . . . recruiters. Three of the leading U.K. startups — Moneybox, Attest, and WhiteHat GB — show recruiting as one of the top three skills they’re hunting for. In France, the online driving school, Ornikar, is also looking for team members with recruiting skills, as is Canada’s CCI.

Startups for . . . startups. New companies are often long on ideas and short on cash. Which is where Canada’s Clearbanc comes in. The No. 3 company on our list, Clearbanc provides financing to startups so that the founders don’t have to surrender additional equity. And San Francisco–based Brex offers a corporate credit card for startups.

Talent is the lifeblood of all companies — and particularly startups

Of course, startups need more than just funding — they need talent. As they scramble to build teams that will allow their dreams to flourish, they can turn to the best practices of those who have gone before them:

1. Standardize your interviews. Assign roles and responsibilities to each of your interviewers and ask each candidate a consistent set of questions.

2. Keep an eye on efficiency. Monitor how much time gets spent for each hire and how each part of your hiring funnel performs.

3. Make a work assignment part of your assessment. Strong performance on a job audition that reflects the work a candidate would do for you is the best predictor of on-the-job success.

4. Give your hiring managers accountability. Some companies hire by consensus, but a committee approach can be more time-consuming. As well, when one person is on point, more care will be taken with each decision.

5. Keep tabs on your best sources of hire. With time and money at a premium, double-down on the channels that bring you early success.

Follow these tactics and next year your startup may be debuting on one of our lists.

To build the lists, LinkedIn examined billions of actions taken by 645 million members, paying particular attention to four areas: employee growth; interest in a startup’s jobs; member engagement with the company and its workforce; and the success of the young startups luring talent away from businesses on the LinkedIn 2019 Top Companies lists. To be eligible for our Top Startups lists, a company has to have at least 50 employees, be privately held, be 7 years old or younger, and be headquartered in the appropriate country.

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