The 34 most powerful startups in Charlotte

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Charlotte’s startup scene may be early in its development, but it’s already produced some powerful companies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Charlotte’s startups have definitive clusters in financial tech, healthcare and energy. But there are also plenty of companies flying under the radar locally but making huge impacts in their industries.

“Startup” can be a loosely defined term, and the companies on this list vary widely in age, financial structure and headcount. We use startup to mean an innovative company with high growth and scaling potential.

Power, too, is a broadly defined term. This list takes into account the company’s size, scope, traction, funding and growth trajectory. Being accepted to a well-known accelerator program boosts a company’s position, as does being a consumer-facing business that lots of people know about.

This article doesn’t encompass everyone. Even companies at the bottom of the list are noteworthy and honestly, a big deal.

The rankings also, unfortunately, miss great Charlotte startup success stories like Yap, the voice-to-text tech company scooped up by Amazon a half-decade ago. They also leave out very cool boutique small businesses making a splash in Charlotte.

Think I missed a deserving startup? Email me at

1) AvidXchange

Year founded: 2000
Headquarters: AvidXchange Music Factory
CEO: Michael Praeger
What they do: Accounts payable automation. In other words, they help companies pay their bills.

While the company is one of the oldest on this list, they’re now experiencing the hypergrowth characteristic of a startup. They’ve gone from about 80 employees in 2011 to more than 800 today. They’ve also just finished building a gleaming new headquarters at the Music Factory (which now carries the company’s name).

Last year, AvidXchange was recognized as the most well-funded startup in North Carolina. AvidXchange also closed a $300 million funding round earlier this year, building on a $225 million investment in 2015. They’re still hiring like crazy and have plenty of room to grow.

2) Red Ventures

Year founded: 2000
Headquarters: Indian Land, South Carolina
CEO: Ric Elias
What they do: Marketing — everything from paid search to inbound call centers.


Red Ventures is the other OG in the Charlotte startup scene and now has an estimated valuation north of $1 billion. They, too, have a spectacular new headquarters and have raised at least $250 million. They now employ more than 2,700 people and have been on an acquisition spree as of late.

3) Movement Mortgage

Year founded: 2008
Headquarters: Indian Land
CEO: Casey Crawford
What they do: Home lending platform

Movement started with four employees and has grown to more than 4,000 in 650 locations. They recently launched a charter school through their philanthropic arm and the CEO acquired a bank.

4) SmartSky Networks

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: Near Charlotte Douglas International Airport
CEO: Haynes Griffin
What they do: In-flight broadband internet

Here’s a benefit of Charlotte being an American Airlines hub. This company has flown under the radar for the last few years but just raised $170 million in Series B to bring their product to market.

5) Passport

Year founded: 2010
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Bob Youakim
What they do: Mobile payment systems for parking and transit


Passport office via Passport

Passport is one of the best examples of Charlotte as a fintech hub. Led by a former Wells Fargo exec, the company raised $8 million last year and has signed contracts in the cities of Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City.

Passport gets a big leg up on this list as a customer-facing business. You’ve probably even used the service. They power the mobile ticketing app that Charlotte Area Transit System just rolled out and some parking lots near Uptown are on the system.

6) MapAnything

Year founded: 2009
Headquarters: Near I-77 and Tyvola Road
CEO: John Stewart
What they do: Operate one of the most popular apps in the Salesforce ecosystem

They’ve raised more than $41 million and tripled in size over the past year.

[Agenda story: MapAnything is making a killing by being the best app in the business world]

7) PeraHealth

Year founded: 2008
Headquarters: SouthPark
CEO: Stephanie Alexander
What they do: Healthcare data company that helps doctors diagnose at-risk patients more quickly

The company has raised $14 million to date and is currently in use in about 80 hospitals.

8) Stratifyd

Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: FreeMoreWest
CEO: Derek Wang
What they do: Data analytics that can mine unstructured text

The company raised $7 million earlier this year to ramp up sales and marketing.

9) Payzer

Year founded: 2014
Headquarters: Ballantyne
CEO: Joe Giordano
What they do: Mobile platform for contractors to manage their business

The company has raised nearly $10 million and hired rapidly.

10) Torrent Consulting

Year founded: 2012
Headquarters: South End
CEO: Daniel McCollum
What they do: Help companies implement Salesforce

Torrent has plans to double in size in its new office over the next two years. Their revenue growth rate is crazy fast.

11) Tresata

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: South End
CEO: Abhishek Mehta
What they do: Predictive analytics software

Tresata has a major client in Harris Teeter (Tresata does their suggested shopping list feature). The company grew from Packard Place to a swanky new office on Camden Road.

12) SignUpGenius

Year founded: 2008
Headquarters: Ballantyne
CEO: Dan Rutledge
What they do: Online sign-up and volunteer management

SignUpGenius is one of those companies that everybody uses but few realize they’re headquartered here in Charlotte. They’ve added some heavyweights to their management team over the past year and took on a majority investment.

13) AddShoppers

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Jon West
What they do: Marketing platform that targets customers online

Their revenue growth is among the fastest in Charlotte.

14) Elements Brands

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: South End
CEO: Bill D’Alessandro
What they do: Consumer product eCommerce

Elements Brands buys mom-and-pop consumer product lines and turbocharges their sales with their online expertise. This company is poised to rocket up this list, with a handful of acquisitions lined up for the next year.

[Agenda story: This Charlotte startup is building the Procter & Gamble of 2050]

15) SkillPop

Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: West Charlotte
CEO: Haley Bohon
What they do: Pop-up in-person classes


This bootstrapped company has a devoted Charlotte following and has since expanded to Raleigh, Greenville and Nashville with more cities in the pipeline.

16) Quimbee

Year founded: 2007
Headquarters: Cotswold
CEO: Matt Sellers
What they do: Online law study tool and test prep

Ask any law student and they’ll be obsessed with this company. They’ve been on the Inc. 5000 list.

17) 2ULaundry

Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: Plaza Midwood
CEO: Alex Smereczniak
What they do: Outsourced laundry and dry-cleaning

After making a splash in Charlotte, 2ULaundry has been accepted to a prestigious startup accelerator program and raised nearly $3 million to expand to other markets.

18) Brewpublik

Year founded: 2014
Headquarters: Music Factory
CEO: Charlie Mulligan
What they do: Beer delivery service for home and office


Brewpublik was accepted to the 500 Startups accelerator program and has expanded from Charlotte to the Bay Area, Raleigh and Charleston.

19) Eat The Bear

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: SouthPark
What they do: Protein powder

ETB protein

ETB brought on Panthers star Luke Kuechly as a partner and spokesman and recently inked a deal with the Spartan Race series.

20) DealCloud

Year founded: 2010
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Rick Kushel
What they do: Deal management software for private equity companies and investment banks

The company landed a $5.3 million investment in 2015 after being founded by Ben Harrison of Falfurrias Capital Partners. They recently moved from Industry Coworking to a new office Uptown.

21) Tech Talent South

Year founded: 2013
Headquarters: Belmont neighborhood
CEO: Betsy Hauser Idilbi
What they do: Coding bootcamp and training program

Photo via Tech Talent South

They have campuses in 11 cities across six states and recently landed a multi-million-dollar investment to build out their corporate training program.

22) uBack

Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: Myers Park
CEO: Melissa Bodford
What they do: Mobile fundraising app


The company closed a $2 million Series A round last year and already has more than a quarter-million nonprofits on the platform.

23) Atom Power

Year founded: 2014
Headquarters: Northlake
CEO: Ryan Kennedy
What they do: Build technologically advanced circuit breakers

They recently closed on a $3 million funding round.

24) Ecomdash

Year founded: 2013
Headquarters: University City
CEO: Nick Maglosky
What they do: Inventory management software


Ecomdash team photo via Facebook

25) Fuzzy Logix

Year founded: 2007
Headquarters: University City
CEO: Partha Sen
What they do: Big data analytics

They raised $5.5 million in 2015.

26) The Waggle Company

Year founded: 2016
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Meggie Williams
What they do: On-demand dog walking company


They’ve spent the past year building out a powerful management team in a high-growth category.

27) Jackrabbit Technologies

Year founded: 2004
Headquarters: Huntersville
CEO: Mark Mahoney
What they do: Class management software for gyms and dance studios

28) Fit To Rent

Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: Huntersville
CEO: Sean Healy
What they do: Software that helps landlords vet tenants

Fit To Rent raised a $500,000 angel round and counts military veterans as founders.

29) Ekos Brewmaster

Year founded: 2014
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Josh McKinney
What they do: Software to manage beer breweries

As of last year, Ekos Brewmaster was in use by 500 breweries. Today they’re at 1,000-plus. The company has plans to branch out into cideries and wineries as well.

30) smpl

Year founded: 2017
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Garrett Tichy, Mike Bifulco and Sean Rogers (cofounders)
What they do: Coworking space management

Founded by Hygge owner Garrett Tichy, they have plans to reach 100 coworking spaces in the next year.

31) Novarus Healthcare

Year founded: 2011
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Tom Hearn
What they do: Create apps to manage hospital employee benefits

The company landed a $750,000 investment last year.

32) Cloosiv

Year founded: 2017
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Tim Griffin
What they do: Starbucks-style mobile ordering for breweries and pop-ups

This company is in the very early stages but has massive potential. They landed a $300,000 seed round.

33) Honeyfi

Year founded: 2017
Headquarters: North End
CEO: Ramy Serageldin
What they do: Financial management app for couples

via GooglePlay

This fintech startup recently launched in beta.

34) ClubUp

Year founded: 2017
Headquarters: Uptown
CEO: Matt Rose
What they do: Uber for golf caddies


ClubUp caddies during training day at Quail Hollow via Facebook

They’ve offered service at Charlotte Country Club, Quail Hollow, Carmel and Myers Park Country Club.

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Andrew Dunn
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