There are a few early clues that a startup will be successful, according to market researcher Quid: Have the company’s founders worked together before? Is the business in a hot sector, one where many other new startups are also focusing? Has it raised funding at a quick pace? Based on those criteria and others, Quid looked at more than 50,000 companies and chose 50 it deemed the most promising.
While venture capitalists often try to assess startups’ potential one by one—at the moment they hear a pitch—some market researchers such as Quid are trying to crunch data on tens of thousands of startups to come up with their own set of best bets. This isn’t Quid’s first attempt to do this: In 2009, Businessweek asked Quid, then named YouNoodle, to pull together a list of 50 promising startups that were flying under the radar. Almost eight years later, it turns out that the list had its share of flops—companies that shut down or lost value—but some notable home runs as well. Cloudera, Palantir, Evernote, Twitch and Spotify all increased at least 30 times in value since 2009. If YouNoodle’s list had been a venture portfolio, it would have been one of the best-performing funds of the last two decades. So we asked Quid’s chief executive officer, Bob Goodson, to make a new list.