The 7 Best Startups You Can Buy On StartEngine Right Now

| February 16, 2021

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This equity crowdfunding platform is one of the best in the industry

Among the myriad equity crowdfunding platforms — which allow anyone to invest in startups — StartEngine is one of the leaders. A critical factor has been the company’s early mover advantage in the industry. But StartEngine has also been innovating. For example, the company introduced a secondary trading platform. This allows for trading in the shares of startups, which should help to encourage even more trading activity.

Howard Marks is the CEO and co-founder of StartEngine. Before launching the company, he started several other successful ventures, most notably Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), which has a market value of $79 billion. He also co-founded Acclaim games, which was later sold to Disney (NYSE:DIS).

“Overall, I consider StartEngine to be one of the three ‘must-have’ accounts for online startup investors,” said Brian Belley, founder of and VentureWallet. “Investing on any other equity crowdfunding platform is much more of an optional preference for investors who either want to invest in certain niches or want to spend additional time screening every equity crowdfunding deal.”

Keep in mind that StartEngine currently has more than 100 deals on its platforms. So then, what are some that look good? Let’s take a look at these seven:

  • Taste Labs
  • Booksniffer
  • Sugarfina
  • MentalHappy
  • Atmos Home
  • KapitalWise
  • Alelo

Now, let’s dive in and take a closer look at each one.

Equity Crowdfunding: Taste Labs

As veterans in the tech and marketing industries, John Lin and Justin Messina wanted to create a personalization technology for movies. The main reason was that they believed the review apps were often manipulated.

So they created Taste Labs in 2016. Although, at first, it was more of a hobby. But the app would get lots of traction, primarily through Reddit. There was also a move into other categories like digital media and fashion retail.

The recommendations are based on taste profiles of the users. This helps to tailor recommendations that are much more relevant,  similar to Netlfix’s (NASDAQ:NFLX) “Match%” system.

Year-over-year, Taste Lab’s user base has spiked by 76% and the return-on-ad-spend is 286%. In all, there are over 500,000 registered users and the platform processes 5.8 million screen views per month.

As for the equity crowdfunding round, the company has raised more than $129,000 from 79 investors and the valuation is $4.97 million. The minimum investment is $249.78.


For most book authors, it is extremely difficult to gin up sales. The advertising on platforms like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google can be expensive. There are also large numbers of titles released every day — many of which are self-published.

BookSniffer is setting out to solve this problem. The company has developed an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android app that has more than three million books and registrations of over 1,600 authors.

Some of the features of BookSniffer include:

  • Direct messaging between authors and readers
  • Sophisticated author portals
  • Low-cost advertising programs that have systems to help identify the right keywords
  • Custom book landing pages

In October, when the app was launched, revenues hit $30,000. The company’s business model includes both advertising and subscriptions.

Regarding the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised almost $62,000 from 99 investors, and the valuation is $18.4 million. The minimum investment is $249.84.


For the most part, the candy and confections market is focused on kids. But this means there is an opportunity for growth in the adult segment.

And this is the focus for Sugarfina, which is a seller of luxury treats. A key part of the strategy involves partnerships with artisan candymakers across the globe. The offerings are extensive, spanning categories like chocolate bars, cocktail candies and gummies.

Additionally, packaging is certainly essential. For example, there is the Candy Bento Box that is curated with various candies.

Since late 2019, revenues have come to about $18 million for Sugarfina. The company distributes its products primarily from e-commerce channels (34.5%) and wholesale (36.3%) partners like Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), Bloomingdale’s and high-end specialty grocery stores.

Regarding the equity crowdfunding round, the company has raised more than $230,000 from 201 investors, and the valuation is $125 million. The minimum investment is $500.


Tamar Lucien Blue is an alum of the famed Y Combinator accelerator and a serial entrepreneur. She started her first venture in 2015, which was focused on developing curated wellness kits for corporations.

This provided a good foundation for her current startup: MentalHappy. This is an online community that provides tools for mental health. The environment is secure and comforting. There is also a self-serve version as well as access to counseling from professionals.

To help build the company, Blue brought on board Amy Leo as the chief positive psychologist. She has been a therapist for more than 15 years and has a degree in psychology from Johns Hopkins University. Leo is also a noted author and speaker.

To ramp up growth, the company has been pursuing partnerships, such as with Devoted Health. It also has relationships with more than 30 employers like SAP (NYSE:SAP), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX). The company charges $7 per person per month for the service.

Regarding the equity crowdfunding campaign, MentalHappy has raised more than $169,000 from 563 investors, and the valuation is $6 million. The minimum investment is $100.13.

Atmos Home

Atmos Home’s goal is to become the Apple of the smart home. This is certainly ambitious. But then again, the market potential is massive. According to research from Serviceable Available Market, about 4.4 million households are looking for a smart home control system.

This seems reasonable because there are a large number of apps that have various use cases and do not necessarily integrate well. This can easily lead to awful experiences.

But the AtmosControl control system is focused on solving the problem (the product is currently in beta). It allows connections across the five most common smart home protocols, such as Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Infrared. These are all then controlled by voice, touch, smartphone and gestures.

Additionally, another key to AtmosControl is a focus on privacy. The company does not save the data or use it for ads. This is important because of the personal nature of smart home systems. Do you want microphones to record what’s happening? Probably not.

Since inception, the company has raised over $1.2 million and $900,000 of this has come from Luminance Brands, which is a strategic partner. In terms of the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised more than $820,000 from more than 1,000 investors and the valuation is $12 million.


KapitalWise operates a platform that helps financial institutions improve their client relationships. At the heart of this is the use of leveraging large amounts of data from a company’s call center, bill payment system and so on.

With the emergence of fintech startups, traditional financial institutions are under much pressure. Customers have come to expect to have rich experiences, such as with a mobile app or website. But traditional financial institutions usually do not have the resources to create their own technologies.

However, with KapitalWise, its possible to get more digitally sophisticated. The system can help identify client goals as well as determine the right times to engage with customers, such as when there is a major life event. This not only increases loyalty but also revenue opportunities, such as with cross-selling and up-selling.

Overall, KapitalWise has been getting momentum. Consider that the company has contracts with firms like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Standard Chartered Bank UK, and ABSA, which is the Barclays (NYSE:BCS) operation in South Africa.

Founded in 2017, KapitalWise has raised more than $500,000 in seed funding from investors and accelerators like Techstars and Breega Capital. Regarding the equity crowdfunding round, the company has received commitments of over $238,000 from 354 investors and the valuation is $15 million. The minimum investment is $249.90.


Founded in 2006, Alelo develops artificial intelligence- (AI) powered avatar systems for training. The company currently has more than 500,000 users and has generated more than $55 million in revenue since inception.

The company has been particularly successful with getting adoption from governmental agencies and academic institutions. Some of the customers include the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and the Office of Naval Research.

But Alelo is leveraging its experience to move into to the corporate training market. With the novel coronavirus pandemic, there was been a surge in demand for this. The training is primarily focused on areas like communications, team building and language skills. In turn, these types of “soft skills” can be boost workforce productivity.

While systems like Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM) have been effective for training, the experience is can be too passive. But Alelo’s immersive and interactive approach can provide a cost-effective approach. Keep in mind that the company’s system involves realistic virtual environments and online conversations with virtual humans. Think of it as like having a personal tutor.

As for the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised above $410,000 from 658 investors and the minimum investment is $276. The valuation has been set at $10.5 million.

On the date of publication, Tom Taulli did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article.

Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is the author of various books on investing and technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, High-Profit IPO Strategies and All About Short Selling.


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