The Monthly Rundown: Startups to Watch from Shamus the Sales Guy – May

Well, at least we can say this year has been anything but boring. In the business world, we’ve seen highs and lows as companies grapple with economic whiplash, and startup funding seems to be riding the same wave of uncertainty. 

May saw a slight decrease in venture funding and deal count in comparison to March and April, but the good news is we’re still above where we started the year in terms of dollars invested in startups.


Monthly global funding and deal count data

Source: Crunchbase data


In other good news, some industries are experiencing immense growth as societal patterns have changed, and many companies that are uniquely situated to offer solutions are still securing massive funding: check out these impressive recent funding rounds: Instacart, Headspace, Postman.

As always, the early bird gets the worm. Of course, in this context, the early bird is the salesperson who can spot opportunities before they’re on everyone else’s radar. 

To help you in your quest for new opportunities, I’ve created “The Monthly Rundown” series. Each month I dive into a few up-and-coming startups from the past month, filtering by two key indicators of momentum: recent funding rounds and significant influxes of new website visitors (I also add a little human intuition as the “secret sauce”).

The five startups that caught my eye in May include a few interesting players in the mental health, security and SOC-as-a-service spaces, and a new socially conscious fintech platform. 

Without further ado, here is my list of five startups to watch (May 2020 edition):


1. Mindstrong

HQ: San Francisco, CA

Industry: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Personal Health, Wellness

Funding: Recently raised $100 million Series C on May 21, 2020.

Web traffic: 128 percent monthly visits growth

Why I’m watching Mindstrong: 2020 has thrown a lot at us, and it’s taking a toll on our most important asset: our minds. Mindstrong Health develops comprehensive care pathways based on passively collected, continuous and objective measures of cognitive function and mood. Most of the data is collected through your phone, and they’re able to provide mental health care that’s covered by your health insurance at no extra cost to you. Mental health and wellness and health diagnostics companies continue to see significant traction as health tech enables more comprehensive preventative health care and early detection capabilities. 


2. DefinedCrowd

HQ: Seattle, WA

Industry: Artificial Intelligence, Data Center, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Software

Funding: Recently raised $50.5 million Series B on May 27, 2020.

Web traffic: 47 percent monthly visits growth

Why I’m watching DefinedCrowd: DefinedCrowd develops a crowd-as-a-service intelligent data platform intended to accelerate enterprise data training and modeling (essentially it combines human and machine intelligence to speed up AI training). With solutions for the automotive, banking, utilities and health care industries, DefinedCrowd is providing high-quality data validation on a massive scale for a plethora of applications. With an impressive $50.5 million Series B in May (and, by the way, it’s the largest ever Series B round to be raised by a female-founded AI company in the U.S.), DefinedCrowd is well on its way to unicorn status.

3. Cloudstaff

HQ: Sydney, Australia

Industry: Accounting, Information Technology, Outsourcing, Real Estate

Funding: Recently raised $20 million Series B on May 5, 2020. Lead Investor: Navegar.

Web traffic: 39 percent monthly visits growth

Why I’m watching Cloudstaff: Cloudstaff helps outsource office admin, accounting, payroll, creative services, tech support and more, claiming to reduce labor costs by 70 percent. As remote work becomes more viable via technology, and remote work policies continue to evolve, we expect to continue to see a rise in outsourced staffing solutions like Cloudstaff. Cloudstaff was also recently named one of Australia’s top 100 fastest-growing companies.

4. Aspiration

HQ: Los Angeles, CA

Industry: Banking, Financial Services, FinTech, Social Impact

Funding: Recently raised $135 million Series C on May 21, 2020.

Web traffic: 39 percent monthly visits growth

Why I’m watching Aspiration: Attention millennials! Aspiration is a financial firm with a unique approach: It’s a socially conscious platform that offers a range of products oriented around conscious consumerism. So, you can earn interest and help plant a tree at the same time. Aspiration donates a dime of every dollar it earns to help working Americans climb the ladder of opportunity while making it possible for customers to give a portion of their profits to a charitable cause of their choice. With investments in fintech companies on the rise–they’ve more than doubled since 2015, and grown ninefold since 2010, according to a recent Crunchbase report–Aspiration is in a unique position to capitalize on the rise in conscious consumerism and the booming fintech industry.


5. Expel

HQ: Washington, D.C.

Industry: Cloud Security, Cyber Security, Network Security

Funding: Recently raised $50 million Series D on May 13, 2020. Lead Investor: CapitalG.

Web traffic: 34 percent monthly visits growth

Why I’m watching Expel: SOC-as-a-service (security operations center) is a subscription- or software-based service that manages and monitors logs, devices, clouds, network and assets for internal IT teams. Security operations centers are known to be pricey and challenging to build from scratch, but with more and more companies relying on cloud storage and searching for ways to outsource network security, the market is ripe with opportunity for new solutions. Expel uses the security signals its customers already own and connects to customer tech remotely through APIs so its SOC can start monitoring a customer’s environment within hours. This frees time for internal teams to focus on strategic priorities, and positions Expel as a leader in the expansion of the SOC-as-a-service market and a promising company to watch in years to come.


Have questions? Shoot me a note:

– Shamus


Shamus Noonan is a sales manager at Crunchbase, where he leads a team of AEs & SDRs across inbound and outbound channels. Find him on LinkedIn.

  • Originally published June 24, 2020, updated July 24, 2020