The Future 5 of San Francisco Tech, Q3 2022
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 11 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. Read our round-up of rising startups from last quarter here.
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Even as the world has gone remote, San Francisco is still considered the tech capital of the world. Corporate giants like Apple, Meta and Twitter are still firmly planted in the Bay Area. Aside from these tech giants, San Francisco is also home to a number of exciting new startups that deserve their share of the spotlight.
Over the course of the last year, San Francisco tech entrepreneurs have continued to innovate. From what may become the world’s first digital nation to a fitness app that enables coaching at scale, the local innovators on this list may be small but are mighty in their respective fields.
Built In’s Future 5 Up-and-Coming San Francisco Startups, Q3 2022
- Afropolitan (Metaverse)
- Limitless Guided Visualizations (Healthtech)
- Perform (Fitness Tech)
- U4U (Healthtech)
- Vestaboard (E-Commerce)
Afropolitan is a metaverse company working on its four-part plan to create the first digital nation, also known as a Network State, for the African diaspora. Starting as an event company, Afropolitan now hopes to grow its online community to occupy space as its own country in the physical world.
“African countries were put together by accident and force. We have suffered the consequences of that decision with no light at the end of the tunnel,” Afropolitan founder Echeme Emole told Built In via email. “We believe that by working with the best minds and leveraging current technology, we can build a country by reflection and choice; A nation people opt into, launched first as an online community before materializing physically on land after reaching critical mass.”
The company’s plan includes first communicating its vision by releasing an NFT campaign to grant users a digital passport for the nation and its events. Next, Afropolitan plans to launch its “super app” to bring together the nation’s utilities like its cryptocurrency DAO. Third, it will focus on furthering the nation’s legitimacy before finally acquiring physical land to reside on.
Limitless Guided Visualizations is an app using metacognition — which is the awareness of one’s thought processes and patterns — and guided audio sessions to help users work on their mental health. Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, Limitless calls its approach metacognitive healing methodology (MHM).
The method works by allowing users to tap into metacognition through full-body experiences, pulling from both psychedelic and traditional medicines. Users are able to notice their limiting thoughts, rethink them and shift their own perspectives.
“People are increasingly seeking self-help because the systems currently in place are lacking fundamental metacognitive support,” Cali Chill, Limitless founder and CEO, told Built In via email. “Limitless is the first-ever digital model to teach MHM. ... By changing the relationship one has with themselves and their perspectives on life, sources of trauma can be revealed and transformed.”
For some users, the app is the “missing piece that brings all of their entire mental health and personal wellness journey together,” Chill said, adding that for others, MHM has been life-changing.
Perform is a coaching platform for runners that matches users with a personal running instructor. The app allows coaches to manage athletes at scale, making it more affordable for runners compared to other running apps that offer similar services. After each workout, the app automatically imports fitness data, which coaches can use to offer suggestions for ways to improve a user’s training.
“At Perform, we’re trying to put an expert in every runner’s corner. ... There are a lot of great resources out there for runners, but very few runners have access today to quality coaching and instruction. Perform uniquely combines human coaching with best-in-class technology to make one-on-one coaching and training more accessible than ever before,” said Eric Brownrout, CEO and co-founder of Perform. “Perform is great for runners of all levels who are looking for something more engaging, tailored and personalized than an off-the-shelf solution, without breaking the bank.”
The app is meant for both professional athletes and those trying to build up a running habit. So far, the user response has been positive with many reporting improvements in not only their running but other areas of their health.
U4U is an online space for teen girls to learn about and improve their mental health, connect with other teens and find empowerment. The company offers a number of supportive features on its website including mentoring, pen pals, events and online content about various topics surrounding teen health.
“Supporting teen girls is the greatest opportunity to [make a positive impact] as girls go on to be key influencers of their families and communities. Through supporting and boosting teen girls we can also increase the number of females in the highest levels of political and organizational leadership, and research shows that this will greatly benefit our world in many ways — [including] reducing environmental degradation, increasing global peace, reducing hunger, etc.,” Ila Marchetta, U4U founder and CEO, told Built In via email.
The company has a number of additional tech-enabled offerings in its pipeline, including offering tailored, multi-year courses on a variety of mental health topics. The platform U4U is building will use machine learning to meet teens where they’re at, predict mental health needs and tailor support to prevent bigger mental health issues.
Vestabord is a sleek messaging board made for homes and businesses that can be customized from anywhere in the world. The board can be used to keep families connected across distances, display flexible menus in restaurants and more, all customizable from the company’s free mobile and web-based applications.
“Vestaboard creates spaces that build human connections,” Dorrian Porter, CEO and founder of Vestaboard, told Built In via email. “The digital age has left people looking down at their phones, consumed with countless notifications and endless scrolling. Vestaboard gets employees, customers and visitors looking up from their phones for moments of inspiration and information.”
Since launching in 2020, the company has launched its optional paid software Vestabaord+ which gives users the ability to curate and automate content from a library of over 200 channels and integrate with third-party applications.
The company plans to shift from a pre-order model to an inventory-based one in the next few months. By next year, Vestaboard hopes to start research and development on its second display, which it plans to make more affordable.