12 Startups to Watch in 2012

In 2011 we saw a lot of start-ups with a lot of promise shoot up and, very unremarkably, flair out. As we look to 2012, it appears  more and more entrepreneurs are taking to their computers and breaking into mobile frameworks in hopes of becoming the next big thing. Here are 12 startups to watch in the coming year and reasons why they are of interest:


SimpleMore then just a bank. Simple looks to eliminate the fees, the hassle and the fine print induced stress that normally is associated with banking. Built on the pillars of intuitive design, technology integration and an insatiable need to ask ‘why’? I have a hunch Simple, when they launch, will disrupt banking in a big way.


DekkoBlurring physical and digital. Have you ever been somewhere and seen something familiar but couldn’t figure out what it was or where you’d seen it before? Chances are you pulled out your phone and googled a vague description of it. Dekko looks to eliminate a big step in the process, Dekko is a application that allows you to see real time information on the objects around you through the use of the camera built into your mobile device. They are churning out a hugely functional and important step in Augmented Reality. Although still in stealth mode right now, expect this company to start a revolution in AR applications.


 VotizenTaking back the education behind voting. Voting is an intensely convoluted subject, one that can make even the best of friends want to curse each other out, and yet it is also an increasingly important issue (don’t believe me?  Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was “The Protestor”) Votizen looks to crowd-source and socialize debate and discussion on the issues, the candidates and the decisions, all in a visually appealing format.  As campaigns for the 2012 election rev up, keep an eye on Votizen.


Facebook– I know what you are thinking: “Do they really count as a startup?” But hear me out. Facebook did the unthinkable this Fall; they reinvented. They jumped 10 steps ahead of Google+ and any other of their so-called “competition” with the release of Timeline. They also refuse to be bought by a megaconglomerate, like YouTube was by Google. So ask yourself this: has Facebook become self-satisfied? Or do they continue to innovate and change the definition of a social network? I believe the latter; and I believe with their recent purchase of Gowalla, Facebook can be expected to do some awesome things in 2012.


 SquareThe  PayPal we always wanted. Square is Jack Dorsey’s (one of the founders of Twitter) newest project. Square is a simple and elegant credit card reader for your mobile device. With a very nominal usage charge, Square has already begun shaking up small businesses payment systems and making it easier for more and more people to launch service based businesses out of their pockets. Square has all the elegance and intuitiveness of an Apple product while making a serious disruption in a well-established market. If you don’t have a Square Reader yet, get out and buy one for 2012.


 SoundCloudCreate, discover and share audio, intuitively. When podcasts were first invented they created a huge stir in media distribution and creation on the internet. SoundCloud is the next big step, allowing you to effortlessly record, edit, create, publish, share and discover relevant audio right from your mobile device.  The best part of it is that SoundCloud does so in a way that a 5 year-old can figure out within moments. While services like Spotify are becoming increasingly popular, SoundCloud will begin to take a serious chunk of users.


 Visual.lyData Visualization for the masses. Although not fully launched for the public yet, Visual.ly has an incredible portfolio of clients. Chances are if you have seen a beautiful infographic in the last two years, they had something to do with it. In 2012 Visual.ly plans to launch tools that will allow the lay person to create, easily and instantaneously, beautiful and descriptive infographics. Given the wild popularity that infographics have garnered in the last couple years, chances are Visual.ly’s new tools will also prove incredibly popular.


SmartrThe contacts app you always dreamed of. These days I find myself telling people if they want to reach me, tweet me rather then text me, as I’m more likely to get back to them quicker. Smartr by xobni realizes this and with their beta launch is looking to take a step in remedying the disjointed and often-times chaotic contact management “systems” we have in place. Smartr will aggregate your friends existing contact information with their social presence so there is no more scrounging through your twitter followers or Facebook friends to share something with them, it’s all right there, under their name, in one app. Simplicity at it’s finest.


Vocal– Siri’s first step toward fulfilling her potential. Built by a private developer, Vocal lets you control your Mac using your iPhone 4S’s voice to text capability, even predicting your commands before you can fully articulate them.  Although it is still relatively buggy, this is the first use of Siri’s incredible natural speech recognition capabilities that has the potential to have a profound impact on the way we interface with our computers and technology. For $1.99 get over to the app store and download Vocal because it’s only going to grow from here.


 MisoOne of the first steps in socializing television. With rumors of Apple releasing the next big step in television technology, Miso has jumped ahead of the game and has already begun socializing television, making it easy to get recommendations, share with friends and discover new content. If Apple does indeed wow us with the release of a mind-blowing television, expect Miso to be there, ready to ride the wave.


BitGymMaking cardio awesome. There has been an explosion in health metric related apps and devices recently with the release of the FitBit and Jawbone UP. BitGym takes your cardio routine and makes it awesome by providing an interactive platform for when you are stuck inside a very static environment, such as on a treadmill or elliptical. With whispers of Global Weirding and the long winters we have been known to have, especially here in ‘Cuse, apps like BitGym and their competitors will become increasingly popular amongst winter dwelling users.


graFightersBring your Drawings to LIFE. I wrote about these guys right after their private beta launch this fall and since then they have officially launched with both Android and iOS applications. They might be local right now, but these guys have an awesome product that really pushes the boundaries of what people thought possible, and have a vision for their product that has some seriously cool implications for online and social gaming. If you haven’t uploaded your own graFighters yet, jump on the boat because not only is it ridiculously fun and awesome but it’s only the beginning for this awesome startup.

That’s all I have for now. Although, we’ve covered a lot of really exciting startups, ultimately, you can guarantee there will be awesome new ideas, that haven’t been thought up yet, that will come to fruition and produce some really exciting new products and services in 2012. It’s an exciting time in the tech world.  Anyone can dig in and get messy up to their elbows in code and electronics, and that means there is some serious potential for some wickedly awesome technologies to emerge in the near future. Happy New Year!

Have a question or comment for Isaac?  Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet Isaac at @ibudmen.

Isaac Budmen

Comfortable foot attire enthusiast -- more to read at TeamBudmen.com

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  • Hmmm… Just used 
    http://visual.ly/twitter to create my Twiiter Infographic.. I have to do more tweeting! http://bit.ly/tmmR36
    Started playing with Soundcloud a couple of days ago… nice!

  • sincere

    I just came across this website and your blog, very useful information. I am not technology savvy and you’ve helped me in embracing this. Great post!!