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15 Disruptive Startups from San Diego to Add to Your Watchlist

Oct 24, 20197 min read

Patrycja Mach

IT Marketing Expert at Ideamotive. Focused on Growth Marketing, Data Analytics and Marketing Automation.

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Sure. No place can beat San Francisco as regards IT talent pool (btw, stay tuned for our big feature on top SF startups – coming soon;). However, San Diego, the second-largest city in the Land of Sunshine and Opportunity, has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to startup innovation. 

“The birthplace of California” boasts over 20 incubators and accelerator programs, including initiatives such as Startup San Diego NGO, that fuel the city’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors with support to keep the local startup scene hot and alive! They focus on San Diego’s core industries, such as life sciences, aerospace, defense, tourism, and R&D, but also take advantage of the city’s dynamic, diverse economy to push the envelope in other sectors. Let’s see which ones. 

1. DiversyFund

We start from a real estate crowdfunding platform that creates access to wealth-building opportunities for everyone. DiversyFund is a vertically-integrated platform where users can review and browse available properties to invest in, monitor their investments, and build investor knowledge. 

What sets it apart from similar solutions is that investors don’t pay any brokerage or intermediary fees, and they can set up their account for free. The minimum investment amount is $500. While the startup owners call themselves real estate guys leveraging tech and not the reverse, they seem to be doing just fine on the technical side. Their platform is not only useful, but it also comes with a clear and highly-efficient UI/UX design

Round of funding: Series A

Founder/ CEO: Craig Cecilio

Funding: $4.3 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

2. Brain Corp

The next San Diego startup, Brain Corp, leverages the amazing neuroscience experience and expertise of its founders, Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, and Dr. Allen Gruber to create intelligent autonomous systems. 

Brain Corp is a software technology company specializing in the development of a scalable, cloud-connected operating system for commercial autonomous robots. The company has been around since 2009 and has solid financial backing from Softbank Vision Fund and Qualcomm Ventures, which is the investment arm of the telecom giant.

Round of funding: Series C

Founder/ CEO: Allen Gruber, Eugene Izhikevich

Funding: $125 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

3. Portfolium

With over 50 colleges and universities within the San Diego metropolitan area, the city boasts a vibrant student community. To embrace the needs of that group, Portfolium delivers a full-stack social networking platform that helps students improve success in education.

The platform connects students and graduates with businesses and employers to showcase their resumes and academic achievements. The solution features functions such as pathway development, e-portfolios, badging and credentialing, and employee browsing. While the software is easy to use, the underlying technology is multi-faceted and sophisticated, comprising SSO authentication, open API integration with external systems, responsive design, and built-in real-chat support.

Round of funding: Unknown

Founder/ CEO: Adam Markowitz, Daniel Marashlian

Funding: $7.8 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

4. Human Longevity

The global digital health market is expected to surpass $504.4 billion by 2025, and our next San Diego tech startup is hoping to tap on that potential by merging AI and machine learning with health research. Human Longevity is a genomics-based company that aims to provide people with access to data-driven health intelligence in order to improve their health and extend longevity. 

This extremely progressive startup builds on the work of its multidisciplinary team of research scientists, computing experts, and physicians to gain detailed, personalized insights into human health from genomics data. Considering the jaw-dropping funding of $300 million that Human Longevity secured in just three rounds, it seems like it hit a home run with its value proposition.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Peter Diamandis, Robert Hariri

Funding: $300 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

5. Acutus Medical

Another healthcare-oriented startup from San Diego, Acutus Medical, is a prime example of how technology can save human lives. The company’s team of medical scientists and biomedical engineers develops medical technologies to treat complex cardiac arrhythmia. 

The electro-functional solution combines advanced imaging, navigation, and mapping to provide doctors with the ability to monitor the heart’s electrical function in real-time. Patients get a mobile app to track their heart condition easily wherever they are. The outcome is truly impressive. See it for yourself!

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Randy Werneth

Funding: $308.2 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Twitter

6. Housecall Pro

Paperwork. No one likes it, maybe except for accountants. Fortunately, there are solutions such as Housecall Pro that handle it for us. It’s a field service management platform that makes it possible for small company owners to manage their business on the go with a mobile app.

The app comes with a wide array of built-in features, from online booking and job management and scheduling, through live map GPS and texting, to payment processing and invoicing. It even supports small businesses with marketing, offering a website builder, reviews system, follow-up marketing, and e-mail automation. According to the company, business owners can save up to 15 hours a week by going paperless with this comprehensive app.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Adam Perry-Pelletier, Chris Zwickilton, Ian Heidt, Reza Olfat, Roland Ligtenberg

Funding: $20 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

7. Netradyne

Netradyne was founded in 2015 with the mission of leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Edge Computing to drive advancements in fleet transportation solutions. The San Diego startup has developed a data-based provides that supports drivers and fleet managers with advice, comments, and feedback to help them improve road safety and driving performance. 

The company’s vision-based technology monitors and collects detailed information about driver behavior and performance, and turns it into recommendations that serve to enhance the driving experience. The available solutions include a portal with dynamic fleet metrics and driver performance information, real-time alerts and notifications, and a mobile app that gives drivers real-time updates on how they perform.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Avneesh Agrawal, David Julian

Funding: $37 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

8. KaiOS Technologies

Everyone knows Android and iOS but does KaiOS ring any bells? If not, that might be because this Linux-based mobile operating system is quite recent, as it first appeared in 2017. However, with Google’s blessing and over 100 million devices shipped worldwide to this day, it stands a good chance of success.

KaiOS designed its system to support good old physical keypad devices (remember flip phones?). The company stands by closing the digital divide and creating new opportunities for people by democratizing access to mobile technologies. The OS provides support for 4G, Wi-Fi, and HTML-based apps, comes with built-in Twitter and Facebook, and is very light, requiring only 256 MB of memory. So if you are looking for a mobile device that is sturdy, affordable and has insane battery life, ditch your shiny smartphone and have a look at one of the models running on KaiOS. 

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Sebastian Codeville

Funding: $79 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

9. Mitek Systems

If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, chances are you’ve come across at least one app that utilizes a facial recognition system. But the application of facial identification extends far beyond social media apps or logging into your smartphone without a PIN code. Mitek Systems develops elaborate digital identification technologies to allow secure customer acquisition, enable fast money movement, and prevent account takeover fraud.

The company makes use of AI algorithms and facial biometrics to help banks and financial institutions enhance their operations and make them more secure. It also extends its services to other organizations that can use facial recognition technology, e.g., to onboard new customers remotely.

Round of funding: Post-IPO Equity

Founder/ CEO: Max Carnecchia, Jeff Davison

Funding: $15.8 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

10. Cordial Inc.

Cordial is an email tech company that aims to resolve the greatest issue of all marketers: “What do my customers exactly want?” To answer that question, the company uses real-time data analytics and then triggers dynamic behavioral- and event-based messages to provide customers with highly-personalized campaigns. 

Cordial’s all-in-one marketing platform comprises several solutions that allow businesses to enhance customer intelligence and deliver highly-personalized messaging. The solutions include a data management module for the collection and management of all customer data, a personalization engine, a customer identification and acquisition component, a drag-and-drop message editor, and much more.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Adam Gillespie, Chris McGreal, David Baker, Jeremy Swift

Funding: $23.6 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

11. Measurabl

Meet Measurabl, another Sad Diego tech startup that supports businesses with advanced, AI-backed data analysis. Measurabl targets sustainability professionals with a feature-rich app that allows them to collect and analyze utility, waste, and travel data, and generate on-demand reports. The platform also features a benchmarking component for asset- and fund-level performance tracking and comparison. It is a subscription-based solution, with a free plan available for new customers.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Matt Ellis

Funding: $23.6 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

12. Shield AI

We remain in the realm of unlimited AI capabilities. Shield AI is a San Diego tech startup that specializes in developing Machine Learning solutions for indoor and outdoor intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. 

The company’s flagship product, Hivemind, is an AI framework that allows unmanned vehicles and systems to learn from experience. Shield AI uses it for its own machines, such as Nova, an autonomous drone used for in-door exploration in dense urban environments and GPS-absent areas.

Round of funding: Series A

Founder/ CEO: Andrew Reiter, Brandon Tseng, Ryan Tseng

Funding: $23.1 M

Follow on: LinkedIn

13. PatientSafe Solutions

San Diego is a stronghold of life sciences innovation, and here’s the proof. PatientSafe Solutions delivers a workflow-driven, context-aware communication application that connects patients with their care teams and enhances clinical communication and workflows. 

The app delivers HIPAA-compliant messages, voice calls, alerts, notifications, and nurse calls, all from a single platform hosted on a single device. The solution also facilitates medical professionals’ work by allowing them to access vital patient information, including personal data, medications, test results, and other data with a single tap.

Round of funding: Unknown

Founder/ CEO: Patrick Steusloff

Funding: $145.8 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

14. eSUB Construction

We’ve already had some examples of cloud-based apps that help companies and individuals go paperless, and here’s another one. eSUB Construction is a user-facing app that provides project management, timecard management, and corporate management for commercial subcontractors of all trades. 

By using the app, subcontractors can log into a secure Internet portal, and create, update, and store project documentation, including photos, drawings, and reports. Thanks to the elimination of manual paperwork, the company claims to be saving 10-25% of employee time while increasing the efficiency of orders by up to 92%.

Round of funding: Series B

Founder/ CEO: Benny Baltrotsky, Wendy Rogers

Funding: $20 M

Follow on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

15. Platform Science

Platform Science, the last San Diego startup on our list, is an enterprise-grade IoT fleet management solution. It supports drivers, operations personnel, and back-office staff by delivering functionalities that improve the in-cab experience and make fleet management more efficient, easier, and data-driven. 

Thanks to Platform Science, fleet drivers and operators can manage, track, and configure all smart devices in every vehicle, improve driving safety and performance, and ensure the entire fleet is operational and in good shape. 

Round of funding: Convertible Note

Founder/ CEO: Joel Kennedy, Jake Fields

Funding: $28.7 M

Follow on: LinkedIn


The above fifteen state-of-the-art San Diego startups are forging ahead on the US tech scene at the moment, making the city one of the hotbeds of startup innovation. Which of them appealed to you most? 
Maybe some of them inspired you to leverage a mobile or web app to take your own startup to the top? If so, let us know! We’ve got the skills, grit, and talent to accompany you on the way up.

Patrycja Mach

Patrycja is a B2B Marketing Expert with experience in growing IT businesses since 2014. She creates and implements 360-degree marketing strategy. In her career, she focuses on lead generation based on marketing automation, collecting data, AB experiments and complex customer journeys. Business and self-development and psychology enthusiast.

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