36 consumer startups that will boom in 2021, named by venture capitalists

  • We asked a group of investors at successful venture capital firms to name the startups poised for success next year.
  • VCs named so many consumer startups that we couldn't include them all on our big list of 81 startups that will boom in 2021. 
  • And so we created this separate list, which includes all 36 consumer startups that these VCs believe will take off next year.
  • Whether you're looking for new products, prospective employers or tech trends, this list is the best way to know what's hot in the consumer startup world.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Even with a raging pandemic that has transformed work and living, life's basic necessities remain the same: we need to eat and sleep, we want to stay healthy and become smarter, and we want to achieve financial security. 

Technology, of course, has already changed how we achieve these things from ordering food to buying publicly traded stock, all from our phones. That cycle of innovation didn't stop in 2020 and is set to churn even faster in 2021. 

At the end of every year, Business Insider asks a group of well-known venture capitalists to name the startups they think will take off in the new year.

We published our main list of the 81 startups that will boom in 2021, but VCs nominated so many consumer startups that we couldn't include them all in that larger list. The companies they named were so intriguing that we decided they merited their own list.

The following crop of startups touches upon many of 2020's hot trends, such as the shift towards personal and remote banking and the rise of independent creators using new tools to make a living out of their passions. They also include products that improve life's more mundane moments, such as wearable ring that tracks our sleep patterns. 

These startups, organized alphabetically, are all venture-backed companies. We included the estimates of their total funding according to deal database Pitchbook as well. 

Here are the 36 consumer startups that VCs say are set to take off in 2021:

Albert: personalized financial advice

Startup: Albert

VC: Sumi Das, CapitalG

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $71.83 million 

Headquarters: Walnut, CA

What it does: helps people automate their financial well-being by tracking bills and spending habits, how much money you make, investments, and more.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Albert is leveraging automation and machine learning to improve consumers' financial wellness through their holistic, mobile financial advisor that Americans can actually afford," Das said. 

Bloomscape: e-commerce for plants

Startup: Bloomscape

VC: Johnson Yang, General Catalyst

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $24.2 million

Headquarters: Detroit

What it does: a plant shopping platform that delivers fully-grown potted plants to customers.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Bloomscape has figured out how to ship thriving, beautiful plants in a box all across the country 365 days per year, resulting in better quality, variety, and convenience than your typical big box store Garden Center offers," Yang said.

"It's never been easier for new plant enthusiasts to buy and care for plants thanks to Bloomscape," he added.

Chime: no-fee online banking service

Startup: Chime

VC: Shawn Carolan, Menlo Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $1.54 billion

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A banking app with special perks like no-fee checking accounts and paycheck advances.

Why it will boom in 2021: Carolan expects Chime's features like paycheck advances and free "spot me" loans of up to $100 on overdraft will give the fintech startup an edge over traditional banks.

"They are growing a fantastic business while making average US consumers more financially secure," Carolan said.

Clay Software: reconnecting with forgotten friends

Startup: Clay

VC: Peter Boyce II, General Catalyst

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: NA

Headquarters: New York

What it does: a social networking app designed to help users connect with the people they've met throughout their life.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Clay is a beautiful and private rolodex that helps you remember and be more thoughtful with the people in your life," Boyce said, adding that the app can serve a variety of functions, including revitalizing old family relationships and surfacing potential job opportunities. 

Commonstock: app for sharing user knowledge

Startup: Commonstock

VC: Li Jin, Atelier Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $11.2 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A site, still in beta, where novice investors can chat with experts, trace others' investment portfolios, and make trades of their own.

Why it will boom in 2021: "I'm excited about the future that Commonstock is shaping, in which investing is made more accessible, fun, and educational to a much broader swath of the population," Jin said.

Everlywell: at-home food sensitivity and COVID tests

Startup: Everlywell 

VC: Aileen Lee

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool

Total funding raised: $266.1 million

Headquarters: Austin, TX

What it does: provides consumers with at-home lab tests ranging from food sensitivity tests to metabolism tests.

Why it will boom in 2021: The company recently launched an at-home COVID-19 test, which Lee says will drive its growth numbers.

"Consumers are increasingly stressed about their health and well being, and have time to investigate and adopt new, more convenient and affordable ways to address their healthcare needs," Lee said.

Folx Health: healthcare for LGBTQIA+ people

Startup: Folx Health

VC: Chelsea Stoner, Battery Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool. 

Total funding raised: $4.35 million

Headquarters: Boston

What it does: Folx Health is a digital health company designed for LGBTQIA+ people specifically, offering services like hormone replacement therapy, HIV prevention, and fertility testing. 

Why it will boom in 2021: "LGBTQIA+ people often meet with clinicians who don't understand their bodies or their needs, resulting in often difficult and sometimes traumatic experiences. Folx is reimagining healthcare for this population from first principles with a medical team made up of leading queer- and trans-care specialists," Stoner said. 

Forage: career discovery platform

Startup: Forage

VC: Mercedes Bent, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $12.06 million

Headquarters: Sydney, Australia

What it does: Forage is a career discovery platform that lets employers create courses simulating what it's like to work at their firms.

Why it will boom in 2021: Bent likes how job candidates on Forage can use it for both "casual learning and intense job searches," and how the courses on the platform are designed by actual employers, as opposed to third-party providers. 

Found: business banking for the self-employed

Startup: Found

VC: Bill Trenchard, First Round Capital and Mark Goldberg, Index Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VCs just think it's cool.

Total funding raised: $15.2 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Found assists self-employed people with business banking services like expense tracking and tax savings.

Why it will boom in 2021: Trenchard said he's "impressed with the simplicity of the product" Found offers. "It radically simplifies finance tasks that millions of self employed people struggle with, including knowing what their taxes owed are in any given quarter (estimated payments) or what they can deduct."

"It's a major headache for freelancers to set aside the appropriate amount of money to pay in taxes, and Found combines banking with expense tracking to do this automatically. With a killer team, this is a company to watch in 2021," Goldberg said.

Hinge Health: digital healthcare for treating back and joint pain

Startup: Hinge Health

VC: Roger Lee, Battery Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $127.09 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: digital healthcare programs for chronic conditions such as back and joint pain.

Why it will boom in 2021: "As physical therapy and surgery continue to be postponed during the pandemic, folks with chronic conditions and pain are at risk for being left untreated," Lee said.

"Hinge Health provides a truly end-to-end solution by democratizing access to critical resources and quality services at a lower cost, and more conveniently to members," he said.

Hydrow: Smart rowing machines

Startup: Hydrow

VC: Michael Madden, Alumni Ventures Group

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $60 million

Headquarters: Cambridge, MA

What it does: Hydrow offers rowing machines for full-body home workouts which are used by star athletes like professional tennis player Sloane Stephens and NBA player Carmelo Anthony.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Hydrow is part of the revolution of in-home connected workout machines that allow people to exercise from home with all of the fun of being part of a group," Madden said.

Luma: Virtual event planning for influencers

Startup: Luma

VC: Li Jin, Atelier

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $3 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Tools for influencers and content creators to plan, promote, and carry out remote events held via videoconference or livestream, as well as sell products to their followers.

Why it will boom in 2021: "In 2021, more creators will be making their living in the 'passion economy'," Jin said. "Luma gives these creators a home across platforms where they can develop a community and make money."

Lydia: PayPal of mobile payments

Startup: Lydia

VC: Amit Jhawar, Accel

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $72.78 million

Headquarters: Paris

What it does: Provides mobile payments, loans, checking accounts, and credit cards to a primarily French user base.

Why it will boom in 2021: Lydia has become the dominant peer-to-peer payment platform in France, and Jhawar expects it to continue to expand as it rolls out new features like online checking accounts.

"Lydia has become a verb in France and next year will bring a whole set of new capabilities to continue the momentum," he said.

M1 Finance: fintech for personal finance

Startup: M1 Finance

VC: Greg Baker, Alumni Ventures Group

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $99.5 million

Headquarters: Chicago

What it does: Fintech app that helps users consolidate their various personal finance needs by offering roboadvising, neobanking, and lending services onto a single platform.

Why it will boom in 2021: "M1 operates in a space where the vast majority of capital is kept in legacy systems, leaving a lot of room for M1 to grow its existing capital base as capital is transitioned into digital mediums," says Baker, who added that the company doubled its assets under management from $1 billion in February to $2 billion by October.

Notion: app for productivity, reminders, and calendars

Startup: Notion

VC: Ethan Choi, Accel

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $70.85 million 

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A productivity app for consolidating calendars, notes, reminders, and other documents in one place.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Notion provides users and teams a single place to get work done and track it, resulting in less context switching, fewer applications to log into and pay for, and a more organized user interface with less searching for files," Choi said.

OmSom: direct-to-consumer Asian food

Startup: OmSom

VC: Anu Duggal, Female Founders Fund

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $3.15 million

Headquarters: New York

What it does: creates Asian cuisine starter kits and recipes that are easy to make.

Why it will boom in 2021: "OmSom makes it easy to recreate some of my fave dishes," says Duggal, who added that she grew up in Asia and loves all types of Asian cuisine. "As Americans are cooking more and more at home and expanding their palates in Asian cuisine, I have no doubt OmSom will do incredibly well in 2021."

Oura: wearable ring to track sleep patterns

Startup: Oura

VC: Shawn Carolan, Menlo Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $46.52 million

Headquarters: Oulu, Finland

What it does: A wearable smart ring that tracks people's pulse overnight and makes recommendations to improve their sleep.

Why it will boom in 2021: Carolan expects the sleep tech industry to soar in the coming year, with Oura at the forefront.

"They are the leader in the category, one that will become increasingly important as the power of the platform and algorithms increase to diagnose sleep disorders," Carolan said.

Outschool: online classes for small groups

Startup: Outschool

VC: Alex Taussig, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Mike Duboe, Greylock Partners

Relationship: Taussig is an investor. Duboe has no relation to the company. 

Total funding raised: $57 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A marketplace that offers live, scheduled online classes that students or parents can buy from a variety of teachers across subject areas.  

Why it will boom in 2021: "The pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of online learning, and Outschool met the moment this year, growing over 30 times in just a few months earlier this year," Taussig said. 

"While models like Outschool gained momentum out of necessity during the pandemic, the duration of COVID has opened parents' eyes to what schools do and don't offer to students," Duboe added. "Video learning has been normalized, and even as students go back, Outschool plays a valuable role in enrichment content."

Popshop Live: live video streaming for e-commerce

Startup: Popshop Live

VC: Ian Sigalow, Greycroft

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $4.5 million

Headquarters: Los Angeles

What it does: an e-commerce platform that lets sellers use video streaming to market their products directly to customers.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Our team has spent significant time studying consumer behavior trends in the Chinese market, including the rise of social shopping platforms like Taobao Live. COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to ecommerce, and online shoppers are seeking more entertaining, social retail experiences," Sigalow said.

"We're excited about Popshop Live's potential to reinvent commerce in the U.S. and beyond," he added. 

Public: social network for retail investors

Startup: Public

VC: Ian Sigalow, Greycroft

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $91 million

Headquarters: New York

What it does: a "social investing" app that lets users trade stocks and learn from investing experts and other app users.

Why it will boom in 2021: "The company is led by a team of repeat founders with significant domain expertise that is able to rapidly release new features that delight consumers and inspire users to refer their friends, driving attractive network effects," Sigalow said.

Real: provider of virtual, remote therapy

Startup: Real

VC: Anu Duggal, Female Founders Fund

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $6 million

Headquarters: New York

What it does: app for mental health resources and remote therapy. 

Why it will boom in 2021: "With the ups and downs of 2020, there has never been a more relevant time for both men and women to invest in their own mental health practice," Duggal said, adding that Real hosts support group sessions on relatable topics like "Navigating the Holidays without Loved Ones" and "Undoing Your Upbringing."

Shef: marketplace for homemade meals

Startup: Shef

VC: Johnson Yang

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $8.95 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A peer-to-peer, community-based online marketplace for homemade meals.

Why it will boom in 2021: Shef wants to give rise to amateur chefs, a "whole new category of gig economy workers," Yang said. 

"I believe Shef can do to the restaurant industry what Airbnb did to the hospitality industry, but similar challenges with regulation, operations, and growth hacking have to be surmounted," he added.

ShopShops: online shopping via livestream

Startup: ShopShops

VC: Eurie Kim, Forerunner Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $23.14 million

Headquarters: New York

What it does: Lets people remotely shop from brick and mortar stores via online live-streamed events.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Live stream commerce has been thriving in Asia for years, and is projected to drive [roughly] $170 billion in market value in China this year. We are just beginning to see this behavior take off in the US," Kim said, adding that she believes ShopShops will be at the forefront of that trend.

SoLo Funds: a way to get, and give, small loans

Startup: SoLo Funds

VC: Mercedes Bent, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $23.93 million

Headquarters: Los Angeles

What it does: A peer-to-peer lending system that lets people provide loans of $50 to $1,000 without interest.

Why it will boom in 2021: "In stressful times like the pandemic SoLo is allowing users to more easily and affordably access short-term emergency loans," Bent said. "Many people are still under financial distress and in need of personalized lending solutions."

Sprout Therapy: at-home therapy for kids with autism

Startup: Sprout Therapy

VC: Ben Ling, Bling Capital

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $10 million

Headquarters: Bristol, PA

What it does: Sprout Therapy expands healthcare access to autistic children by matching families with healthcare providers, therapists, and experts.

Why it will boom in 2021: Ling believes that Sprout Therapy taps into a large market, noting that one out of every 52 kids in the US has some form of autism, according to the CDC. 

"Early treatment helps makes strides [for children with autism]," Ling said. "Sprout Therapy makes the process simple and painless for parents."

Step: digital banking for teens

Startup: Step

VC: Todd Jackson, First Round Capital

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $76.3 million

Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA

What it does: Step's digital banking platform is geared toward teens opening their first bank account. It offers a free, FDIC-insured bank account and a secured spending card meant to help them build positive credit, as well as its own person-to-person payments platform.

Why it will boom in 2021: "[Gen Z] has been very vocal about wanting more modern financial resources and Step not only provides those but also markets directly to them," Jackson said.

"At the end of the day, this generation already has massive spending power so if Step can capture these users now, it's bound to be very lucrative," he said.

StockX: online marketplace for hypebeasts

Startup: StockX

VC: Roger Lee, Battery Ventures

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $565 million

Headquarters: Detroit

What it does: StockX's marketplace lets people buy and sell high-demand sneakers, streetwear, bags, and collectibles with a focus on rare and limited edition items that fetch high prices.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Despite unprecedented, industry-wide challenges in retail, StockX's digitally-native and asset-lite business model has proven to be quite resilient, allowing them to serve their consumers throughout COVID-19 with minimal disruption," Lee says, adding that the company is quickly expanding beyond its core Gen-Z demographic.

Substack: newsletter platform for independent writers

Startup: Substack

VC: Alex Taussig, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Eurie Kim, Forerunner

Relationship: No relation to either VC, but Taussig publishes his own (free) newsletter on Substack.

Total funding raised: $21.21 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Substack's platform lets writers create newsletters which can be sent exclusively to paying email subscribers or published publicly online. 

Why it will boom in 2021: Taussig notes that Substack "has been able to attract top talent from big publishers across the media ecosystem," including writers who recently left established outlets like Vox and New York Magazine to start their own newsletters. 

"In a world where large publications must cater to a mass audience, Substack allows readers to vote with their dollars on content they want to see and this trend is likely to accelerate in 2021," Kim adds.

Tempo: AI-powered gym for at-home strength training

Startup: Tempo

VC: Ben Ling, Bling Ventures and Ed Yip, Norwest

Relationship: Investors

Total funding raised: $77.42 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Tempo's home gym uses AI-powered 3D mapping to guide users through weight lifting regimens and give them feedback on their form.

Why it will boom in 2021: Ling says Tempo's strength is its "amazing product market fit with strong customer love and engagement," and that it's poised to capitalize on the growing at-home fitness trend.

"Consumers who were once too busy to commit to the gym or who were intimidated by classes are now hopping on the at-home workout train," Yip adds.

Toggle: market insights for amateur investors

Startup: Toggle

VC: Elizabeth Weil, Scribble Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: Not disclosed

Headquarters: New York 

What it does: provides AI-powered news alerts, analysis, and market insights for everyday investors.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Toggle is the Bloomberg Terminal for retail investors," Weil says. "Just as Schwab, Interactive Brokers, and now newcomers like Robinhood and Betterment have disrupted market access for retail investors, Toggle is aiming to disrupt investment analysis."

Tonal: an AI-powered home gym and personal training

Startup: Tonal

VC: Matt Murphy, Menlo Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $276.7 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: A rising star in the booming home fitness market, Tonal sells a smart mirror with adjustable pulleys that uses AI-powered computer vision to evaluate users' workouts and give them feedback, along with remote human-led classes.

Why it will boom in 2021: "The classes and AI to both motivate and improve your form are game changers. No question more people will be working at home post pandemic and home fitness will benefit from that shift," Murphy says.

Topicals: skincare for people with chronic skin conditions

Startup: Topicals

VC: Gabby Cazeau, Harlem Capital

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $2.6 million

Headquarters: Santa Monica, CA

What it does: Topicals sells skincare products geared towards people with chronic skin conditions like eczema and hyperpigmentation. 

Why it will boom in 2021: "While there's been considerable growth in the beauty category, there hasn't been as much focus on medicated skincare products," Cazeau said. "It is a massive market that hasn't seen much innovation and current products don't speak to the needs of millennials and GenZ."

She adds that "Topicals understands their community of 'skintellectuals' and engages with them in creative ways."

Upgrade: fintech platform focused on personal loans and credit cards

Startup: Upgrade

VC: Ben Narasin, NEA Ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $211.27 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Founded by LendingClub founder Renaud Laplanche, Upgrade first launched with loans and credit card services and has more recently expanded into more banking tools like digital checking accounts.

Why it will boom in 2021: Narasin expects the startup to see "tremendous uptake" next year thanks to its service offering a low-cost traditional term loan of up to $30,000 that users can draw down with a credit card, "giving them a longer term (multi-year) payback period and lower loan-like rates," he said.

Wealthsimple: fintech platform for investing, crypto, and tax filing

Startup: Wealthsimple

VC: David Thacker, Greylock

Relationship: Investor

Total funding raised: $274.96 million

Headquarters: Toronto

What it does: The Canada-based startup began as an automated investing service and now also offers stock and crypto trading tools, savings accounts, a cash card, and tax filing software.

Why it will boom in 2021: "Consumers (especially millennials and Gen-Z) want modern financial products with low, transparent fees, a great user experience, and the convenience of using multiple financial products from a primary institution. This desire has created a massive opportunity to transform the Canadian financial services industry," Thacker says.

Whisper.ai: AI-powered hearing aids

Startup: Whisper.ai

VC: Ted Wang, Cowboy ventures

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $53 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

What it does: Whisper builds AI for voice recognition and uses it to power hearing aids, which distinguish spoken words from background noise.

Why it will boom in 2021: "The application of AI to hearing loss is an ideal fit," Wang said. Next year "will see the product rollout at scale and continue to increase its lead over conventional hearing aids."

Wyze: Internet-enabled smart homes devices

Startup: Wyze

VC: Scott Jacobson, Madrona

Relationship: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Total funding raised: $36.30 million

Headquarters: Kirkland, WA

What it does: Best known for selling a $20 smart home camera, Wyze is now expanding into other internet-connected home devices.

Why it will boom in 2021: Wyze boasts a "strong team, great product at a great price and awesome growth," Jacobson said.

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