In fact, the number of new startups hit a growth spurt due to the pandemic, and rampant tech layoffs we’ve seen in 2022 and into 2023 will likely continue that trend.
In the six years since the inaugural Delaware RealLIST Startups, Technical.ly’s annual roundup of the First State’s most promising young tech companies, we’ve seen the local ecosystem expand, especially in areas such as green tech, blue tech and healthtech. Esports and gaming have held a RealLIST presence over the past couple of years, as well as a few apps and platforms designed to help the ecosystem grow.
Last year’s RealLIST Startups was very STEM-focused, with the top two startups — Desikant and Hx Innovations — based on new technologies in smart garments and athletic footwear, respectively. Another three of the 10 on the 2022 list — Elyte Energy, CM Materials and the now-Philly-based Carbon Reform — focus on environment-prioritizing green technology.
For 2023, we looked to our own reporting, networking and toward startup-focused events such as the Delaware Prosperity Partnership-led Startup302 pitch competition and the State of Delaware’s EDGE Grant to find this year’s crop of promising startups. As in 2022, we’re seeing a lot of STEM startups, especially in greentech and healthtech, as well as ecosystem-building startups that are working to support entrepreneurs and technologists in Delaware and beyond.
Technical.ly started the RealLIST as a yearly look at the exciting early-stage tech companies in each of our markets. Its name comes from a question that has often been debated in our newsroom: Is that startup real? Is the team serious? Is the product interesting?
Since there’s no single definition for what a startup even is, we needed to lay down some rules for what qualifies as a “real” startup in our eyes:
- Founded no earlier than 2020 (though we know founding dates can be tricky)
- Most of its revenue comes from an innovative product — so, no agencies
- Has shown some track record of success
- Remains independent, meaning it’s not been acquired, merged or gone public
- Headquartered and primarily staffed in Delaware — especially important in a state where many of the companies incorporated here don’t live here
As we say every year: These rankings are not scientific. This is merely a list of 10 companies we’re most excited to follow in 2023. And, of course, feel free to argue your case if you think we’re wrong: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out past years’ lists: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Without further ado, meet Technical.ly’s 2023 RealLIST Startups for Delaware.
Founded in 2020 by José Salazar, Wilmington’s Enetor develops online engineering simulators to help intensive projects troubleshoot while meeting their budgets. The 2021 Swim With Sharks people’s choice award winner has plans to hire 150 employees.
Technical.ly has followed Backyard Gig since it started as a University of Delaware Summer Founders project during the pandemic. The localist task app is aimed at connecting college students with members of the community looking for help with chores, tutoring or help with creative tasks. It was an honorable mention in 2022, and it’s met some of its goals for the year, including adding ads to the platform. Founder Suryanuj Gupta was also honored as Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ 2022 Organization CEO of the Year.
Cofounded by Bryce Fender — who is also cofounder of 2019 RealLIST Startups honoree Wilminvest — and Wilmington filmmaker Moises Velazquez in 2020, this creative startup helps support visual artists by turning paintings into framable puzzles that pay artists 20% of every piece sold, compared to as little as 3% for retail puzzle art. Why puzzles? During the height of the pandemic, stores couldn’t keep puzzles in stock as families looked for lockdown activities that didn’t involve devices.
This young but growing Wilmington-based healthtech startup (and 2022 RealLIST honorable mention) focuses on small molecule therapies that target cancers. Executive Director Hui Wang previously worked for Incyte, including as its associate director of small molecule therapy oncology programs.
This Dover-based mental health startup — a spinoff of the Mental Edge clinic — was a recipient of a 2022 EDGE grant for its advanced, drug-free treatments for trauma-based disorders that uses neurofeedback, biofeedback and brain mapping. Co-owned and run by John Vander Ven, Jr., Kenneth Phillips, Julia Pritchett and Hunter Melson, its biggest advancement is a “dry” QEEG brain scanning cap (meaning it uses no gel or saline for conductivity) which will allow the company to increase the number of patients it serves.
Cybersecurity Marketing Society
When the Cybersecurity Marketing Society was first cofounded by Newark-based Gianna Whitver and Connecticut’s Maria Velasquez, it was simply a Slack channel for cybersecurity marketers to network. It’s since evolved into a national-reaching startup that organizes events — including Cyber Marketing Con ‘22 in Arlington, Virginia — plus industry surveys, a job board and the podcast called “Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing.” As the Society becomes more IRL, it is working toward establishing local chapters throughout the US.
Founded in August 2021 by University of Delaware students Genpei “John” Ye and David Bichara with Boston University alum NJ Umoh, CompSciLib was a finalist in the 2022 Hen Hatch competition in the post-revenue track for its online edtech platform for computer science majors. The platform for computer science students in every stage offers tools, support and a glocal community of CompSci students and educators. In addition to subscription access, CompSciLab offers free events including the recent Instagram live event, “The Secrets to Landing a Tech Internship.”
Launch Point Labs
Founded in 2021 by partners Delaware-based Eric Smith as well as Kyra Gilmore, Travis King, Damon Martin and Brandon Mahoney, Launch Point Labs is a startup studio that build small businesses and nonprofits across the country, offering a pool of over 100 carefully selected designers, marketers, sales pros, project managers and advisors to help fill talent gaps and give funding and investment help. Last year, the team started building a $5 million fund to invest in startups directly — something that could be especially valuable to Delaware’s startup ecosystem, which is light on VC investments.
OmniPotential Energy Partners
Though its founding date is in the fall of 2019, curbside electric vehicle charging startup OmniPotential Energy has had its biggest milestones since 2020, including the development of its Curbstar product — a publicly shared residential charger, and the passage of Delaware legislation that would allow installation of EV chargers in residential areas. SB1-87, written by OmniPotential Energy founder Cora Castle and passed in June 2022, requires large municipalities in the state to issue permits for the installation of EV charging stations.
Keeping up with Delaware’s esports trend, Tangia was founded by UD engineering students Dan Goodman and Alex Pickett in the summer of 2020. Then known as Ultimate Tournament, the company had a virtual arcade, but ultimately pivoted to creating a platform to help streamers increase engagement. The evolving startup was accepted into Y Combinator’s summer 2022 cohort, and in October, Tangia raised $1.2 million, bringing its total amount raised to $2.1 million.
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