The Future 5 of San Francisco Tech

Here are five up-and-coming local startups to watch as we head into the second half of 2021.
Written by Jeremy Porr
July 13, 2021Updated: July 15, 2021

Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the big guns aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In is launching The Future 5 across eight major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing.

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It’s no secret that San Francisco is home to several top-dog tech leaders, but what about the little guys? The Bay Area is home to plenty of up-and-coming startups that deserve their share of the spotlight as well.

Over the course of the pandemic, the city by the bay has found itself at both the heart of a plant-based foods revolution and the forefront of an edtech boom.

But the city has been a magnet for entrepreneurs outside of the edtech and foodtech sectors as well. From climate-conscious apps to virtual onboarding programs for new mothers, these local innovators have broad sweeping goals and aren’t afraid to start small — proving that San Francisco has nothing to fear in terms of the ever-present “techxodus” narrative.

 

Aerial helps users keep track of how much carbon their plane, train and ride-sharing trips have emitted into the atmosphere.
The Aerial app. | Image: aerial

Aerial (Greentech)

Tornadoes, tropical storms and heat waves have struck across the country this summer, and climate-conscious Californians are already aware of the fact that another historic wildfire season is on the horizon. Climate chaos is here in full force and Bay Area tech leaders are rushing to create new technology to cope.

Almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by transportation, and a new app launched in October of last year is meant to keep travelers educated about their impact on the environment. Aerial helps users keep track of how much carbon their plane, train and ride-sharing trips have emitted into the atmosphere. That said, the app isn’t all doom and gloom — Aerial also suggests ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint as well.

The idea for the app came from the collective mind of three former Microsoft, Google and Facebook employees. Co-founders Andreas Homer, Ari Sawyers and Ebby Amir wanted to find an innovative way to make climate action accessible to everyone.

Once it’s downloaded, Aerial users can connect the mobile app to their Gmail accounts. From there the app scans the inbox for travel itineraries, from flight reservations to Uber receipts, and then presents users with an estimate of carbon emissions from each trip. The app then suggests a donation amount to help users offset their carbon output. The company is currently teamed up with a local conservation project to help the forests of Northern California.

Aerial’s small-but-mighty team of 10 has raised $2 million in financing to date, according to Crunchbase.

 

Dutch was created by former Hims co-founder Joe Spector.
Dutch founder and CEO Joe Spector. | photo: dutch

Dutch (Telehealth)

As more pet parents head back into the office, pet anxiety is at an all-time high. More than 72 percent of dogs exhibit at least one anxiety-related behavior, according to Smithsonian. That number is sure to spike as remote workers get vaccinated and venture back to their office hubs. This Bay Area startup is helping pets get the care that they need by connecting pet parents with licensed veterinarians. And the best part? It can all be done remotely.

Dutch was created by former Hims co-founder Joe Spector. At Hims, Spector helped to build out the company’s national telemedicine and doctor network. He was inspired to apply the same concepts he introduced at Hims to the pet care space and eventually went on to found Dutch, which just launched last month.

“As someone who’s had an anxious dog in my life, and just grew up with pets, I notice that there really wasn’t that level of innovation [re: Hims] on the veterinary side,” Spector said in an interview with Built In.

Dutch’s veterinary specialists will provide a response and an actionable plan to users within 24 to 48 hours of submitting an inquiry, according to the company. Following your consultation, Dutch will send prescription meds straight to your door, so you don’t have to wait at the pharmacy.

“I’m excited to bring innovation to the veterinary space. I think we’ll do a lot for animals and I’m happy to provide greater access and affordability to pet parents seeking treatment,” Spector continued.

Dutch has raised $5 million in financing to date, according to Crunchbase.

 

Landed closed its $1.2 million seed round back in February and its customers already include franchisees for fast food giants like Wendy's and Chick-fil-A.
Landed founder and CEO Vivian Wang. | photo: landed

Landed (HR Tech)

In the midst of a worker shortage and a quietly raging pandemic, employers across the country are looking for new and innovative ways to hire, and keep, their employees. Bay Area newbie Landed is helping employers to do just that. The company’s mobile app helps hourly retail and food workers to connect with local employers. Candidates on the app start out by simply building out a video profile and answering a few questions.

After that, Landed’s AI does all of the heavy lifting on behalf of the employer by filtering through candidates and selecting those that are qualified. Landed’s software evaluates each candidate on more than 50 data points, including things like communication skills, body language, work longevity and more.

Vivian Wang founded the company after several years of working in the retail industry. It was there that she experienced the normalization of high employee turnover rates and felt inspired to find a solution. Instead of having managers constantly on the hunt for new employees, what if there was an app that did all of the hunting for them?

“Typical turnover in the retail and food industries is, on average, 130 percent; most locations need to hire one new employee per day just to stay even,” Wang said in an email to Built In. “It takes a tremendous amount of managers’ time. [We’re] helping them hire faster, hire more qualified candidates and keep employees longer.”

The company closed its $1.2 million seed round back in February and its customers already include franchisees for fast food giants like Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A.

“Employers want and need to invest in their people, and gig work doesn’t have that dynamic. Labor marketplaces of the future will need to have promotion and upskilling paths,” Wang continued. “They will look very different from the job boards of today, and Landed is leading that evolution with a single platform that acts as the livelihood platform for all blue-collar workers: encompassing job attainment, financial wellness, and upskilling.”

Landed’s reach currently extends to seven major metro areas, including Northern and Southern California, Virginia Beach, Phoenix, Atlanta, Reno and Dallas. The company expects that number to triple by the end of the year.

 

Oath Care’s app connects new mothers with six to 10 local mothers at the same stage in their parenting journey to foster a sense of support.
Oath co-founder Dr. Michelle Stephens and CEO/co-founder Camilla Hermann. | photo: oath care

Oath Care (Healthtech)

Mothering a new child doesn’t come with an onboarding program ... but what if it did? This Bay Area startup, co-founded by Dr. Michelle Stephens and CEO Camilla Hermann, has set out to provide new mothers with a network of support and a bevy of digital tools to help them parent the best way possible. Oath Care’s app connects new mothers with six to 10 local mothers at the same stage in their parenting journey to foster a closer sense of community. These “Oath Circles” create a safe space for mothers to discuss the challenges, successes and frustrations that come along with being a new parent.

“We created this because we are parents, clinicians, and technologists who have personally felt the pain of struggling to find answers and community while raising our own kids,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

The app also connects parents with local medical providers in order to provide extra support.

“Pediatrics is responsible for the foundation of human potential, yet as a society, we have chronically underfunded and under-researched this area of care. It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be,” the spokesperson continued.

Medical check-ins are offered in both individual and group settings.

Oath Care closed on its $2 million seed round back in April and membership costs just $19.50 per month.

 

Gail and her husband launched Tulip in November of last year and in April announced a $1.7 million seed round to help expand its service.
Tulip founder Gail Anderson. | photo: Tulip

Tulip (Healthtech)

Fifteen years ago, Tulip founder Gail Anderson launched Donor Concierge, a company to help fertility patients find egg and sperm donors, surrogates and fertility clinics. She wanted to create a space where all of these resources could be centralized, particularly egg donor databases, which are notoriously scattered between hundreds of agencies and frozen egg banks, according to Anderson.

She was inspired to get Tulip up and running after working with a technical development team at Donor Concierge to aggregate all of the donor data from their partner agencies in one place.

“We knew this was a powerful tool that could help a lot of fertility patients who were looking for a donor on their own, so we created a B2C platform,” Anderson said, in reference to Tulip.

Gail and her husband launched Tulip in November of last year and in April announced a $1.7 million seed round to help expand its services.

“We designed Tulip to be low-cost enough to enable wide access,” Anderson continued. “We’re providing unprecedented access for hopeful parents, while ensuring agencies won’t waste their efforts working with people who don’t intend to proceed.”

Tulip provides prospective parents with a searchable database of 20,000 egg donors. Users can filter results by ethnicity, eye color, hair color, education and location.

“We’re proud to be part of a movement working to democratize fertility access. Third-party fertility has long been an out-of-reach option for many hopeful parents, but that tide is starting to turn,” Anderson continued. “More and more parents are using egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates every year, and we are committed to helping them navigate the process as smoothly as possible and succeed in building their families.”

The Tulip platform is HIPAA-compliant and uses blockchain technology to protect personal information, according to the company.

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