CircleUp, which invests in and advises start-ups, recently announced the CircleUp25, the 25 companies it believes are the year’s most innovative consumer brands. The biggest theme is women-owned and women-led, with those companies accounting for 52% of CircleUp25 companies, up from 44% last year.
“While fewer venture dollars still go to women-founded companies compared to their male counterparts, we believe this list is a strong signal that -- as an industry -- we’re making progress,” it says in its announcement. (Among the many CircleUp25 companies founded by women are Framebridge, Maude and Mirror.)
Winners -- some of them brand-new companies and some already unicorns -- are selected by a panel of expert judges and Helio, its technology platform that identifies, classifies, and evaluates 1.4 million brands. It also uses data from Nielsen, and excludes companies in its investment and credit portfolios.
Here are the year’s winners (which also include many D2C brands), in alphabetical order:
*Blueland, which is on a mission to be the future of cleaning and personal care while eliminating the need for single-use plastic packaging. It makes cleaning tablets with natural ingredients.
*Bombas, the comfort sock company with a “one purchased, one donated” commitment. This certified B Corp. has already topped $100 million in revenue. (Helio’s analysis has shown that B Corps, which meet standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, grow three times faster than other brands in their categories.)
*Curology, which puts dermatology providers to work with customers one-on-one, mixing custom skincare and prescription-level acne treatments.
*Framebridge, with a goal of disrupting the framing business, makes custom framing easy and affordable.
*Good Catch, a plant-based seafood company looking to expand into vegan crab cakes and fish-free whitefish burgers.
*Magic Spoon, a healthy children’s cereal.
*Maude, a sexual wellness company focused on quality, simplicity and inclusivity.
*Mejuri, selling affordable handcrafted jewelry for every day.
*Mirror, a connected fitness system that streams live and on-demand classes to users.
*Modern Fertility, which arms women with powerful and money-saving information about their reproductive health.
*Molekule, using nanotechnology to eliminate pollutants on a molecular level.
*Oatly, turning liquid oats into food and drinks with maximum nutritional value and minimal environmental impact.
*Olipop, reportedly the first clinically backed digestive health drink that benefits the microbiome, digestive function, and metabolic health.
*Quip, a D2C oral care company.
*Recess, sparkling water infused with hemp extract to replenish the bodies’ endocannabinoid system and achieve a balanced state of mind.
*Rent the Runway, which rents out designer clothes, has surpassed $1 billion in valuation and recently opened its fifth and largest brick-and-mortar store.
*RightRice, a shelf-stable grain packed with the power of nutritious vegetables.
*StockX, an online marketplace for buying and selling sneakers, streetwear, watches, and designer handbags.
*The Farmer’s Dog, making human-grade dog food from farm-fresh ingredients.
*The Sill, a D2C plant seller expanding into brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco.
*Thrive Market, an ecommerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products at reduced costs.
*Tonal, an at-home fitness system.
*True Botanicals, an organic skincare company.
*Vybes, ready-to-drink beverages with hemp CBD.
*Wild One, which CircleUp says “could be described as Everlane for dogs.”