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50 Seattle startups to watch

Barbara Sehr, February 29, 201250 Seattle startups to watch

Seattle is full of once-little companies that have made it big -- you know them as Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. Entrepreneurs who want to follow their gold-bricked road to success also know them as angels, as in angel capital. The seeds of the Silicon Forest are being planted with talent and support flowing out of Redmond, Lake Union and SoDo to nurture the incubators of a new generation of Seattle startups.

Most of the companies on this list have been in business for only a few years, but many have already taken root in a less than splendid economy, and some may be snapped up soon by larger enterprises. These creative Seattle startups encompass tech innovations, consumer advice, education, entertainment, travel and more.

Business

  • ActiveRain: Real estate professionals communicate with buyers, sellers and lookie-loos.
  • Biznik: Networking online and face-to-face with other small business owners.
  • Mercent: Amazon-inspired online retailing assistance and marketing for merchants.
  • Redfin: Online real estate services including home buying and search apps.

Consumer

  • Avvo: Before you hire a lawyer, doctor or dentist, ask for free advice.
  • EnergySavvy: Upgrade your energy conservation efforts with free software.
  • PayScale: Online salary database: stay on top of what your job is worth on payday.
  • RealSelf: Consumer reviews and medical advice on cosmetic surgery.
  • Tippr: Seattle's answer to Groupon has daily deals and promotes local retailers.

Education

  • eNotes: Academic thought, homework help, discussion and study guides are offered here.
  • Livemocha: Broaden your language skills in a conversational setting.
  • Vittana: Global non-profit enabling micro-loans for higher education, which are repaid when students begin working.

Entertainment

  • BigDoor: "Gamification" platform lets you add "pay to play and stay" model to non-gaming sites.
  • BuddyTV: The drama, the fun and even the "reality" of all things TV are spelled out in this watcher's companion guide.
  • Cheezburger Network: Laughing out loud at the funny cats, failures and things that go bump on the Internet.
  • GoTime: Everywhere you look there's a happy hour. Here's a city guide for cheap dining and drinking.
  • Groundspeak: Technology meets geo-caching, and a treasure hunt is born. Enjoy these location-based tools for outdoor play.
  • Hark: Rich media platform for collecting quotes, images and soundbytes.
  • Sporcle: Mental diversions ranging from sports to science, plus other ways to pass the time.
  • Wetpaint.com: If your obsession with Hollywood entertainers is more than casual, you come here when you're not in the supermarket check-out line.

Family services

  • Cozi: Keep track of family members with a multi-tasking tool for scheduling and sharing.
  • Nearlyweds!: A 21st century tool for going to the chapel and getting married.
  • SeniorHomes.com: Free resource for locating assisted living, independent living and nursing homes.
  • Smilebox: Build an online scrapbook with videos and photos for your family and friends.

Food

  • BigOven.com: Eat, shop, enjoy and share recipes with other foodies with a tech inclination.
  • Chewsy: Picture the food, digest opinions and find menus for hundreds of restaurants in dozens of cities.
  • Menuism: Review not only where you ate, but what you ate!

Retail and shopping

  • Bag Borrow or Steal: Rentable fashion with designer accessories and more.
  • Bonanza: Buyers and sellers of unusual collectibles network together and sell online.
  • Frugal Mechanic: If Amazon sold auto parts…
  • Zulily.com: When you're expecting, you expect an online store like this.

Tech: mobile tools, Web development and IT services

  • AppStoreHQ: Focus in on the best apps for your mobile device.
  • Apptio: Vertical application for management of IT departments.
  • DevHub: Create your own e-commerce, gaming or network site, and build your brand online.
  • Earth Class Mail: Virtual mailroom services include sorting, scanning, storing and forwarding postal deliveries.
  • Epik: Build value into parked domains and manage the domain life cycle.
  • Eyejot: The answer to cold, faceless email is an "eyejot" away. Send video mail with this mobile app.
  • Feedjit: Friend or stranger? Who is looking at your site, and where do they come from?
  • Kickoff Labs: Landing pages that adapt to your content management system for that first impression.
  • Mangoapps.com: Real-time collaboration and social networking under an enterprise cloud.
  • PopShops.com: Affiliate online sellers are eased through the e-commerce maze here.
  • RescueTime: Software that keeps an eye on productivity, workloads and time wasters.
  • SEOmoz: Software tools for search engine optimization and an active SEO community.
  • SimplifyThis: How to succeed in small business with down-to-earth software.
  • Swype: A patented mobile technology for text entry and data input on tiny keyboards and various devices.
  • WebStarts: A do-it-yourself website development experience with access to domain names.

Travel and lifestyle

  • 43Things.com "Tag" your goal, and join others on the same path, whether you're hoping for weight loss or a prank involving lawn gnomes.
  • Raveable.com: Hotels reviewed/rated based on passion, particulars and parasites.
  • Walk Score: How pedestrian friendly is your neighborhood?
  • Yapta: Travelers track flight fares and learn how to get refunds on higher-priced tickets.

"Seattle is truly an amazing place to start a company," said Mike McSherry, the co-founder of Swype, when accepting the honor for the Best Mobile Startup at the 2011 Seattle 2.0 Awards. McSherry, a Microsoft alum, is an example of the entrepreneurial growth fueled by local talent, which may come not only from tech companies, but also from the University of Washington. Add in the area's managers with big ideas and venture contacts, and you have the recipe for a fresh batch of Seattle high-tech startups.

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