With technology like artificial intelligence rapidly advancing, it’s hard for companies to stand out in a highly competitive market—but some brands are making profound strides in their industries and shaping consumer and industry expectations along the way. Enter: The SUCCESS top 10 most innovative companies to watch in 2024. They are large and small companies that have us fired up about the cool ways they are innovating and leveraging technology.
Most Innovative Company in Food
1. UPSIDE Foods
Who they are: UPSIDE Foods is on the leading edge of animal cell-cultivated meat. (That’s meat grown from animal cells.) It made history in 2023 with the first consumer sale of cultivated meat, which required approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The meat debuted in August, with chef Dominique Crenn, the first three-Michelin-starred female chef in the U.S., serving the chicken to an enthusiastic audience.
How they innovate: This future-of-food company is pushing to revolutionize how we eat meat for the purpose of improving sustainability and ethical consumption.
Financials: The company announced the close of a $400 million Series C funding round in April 2022, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion. As of 2022, it had raised over $608 million in funding, according to TechCrunch.
Impact: The company focuses on sustainability by eliminating the need to raise and slaughter billions of animals.
Most Innovative Entertainment Company
2. Group Black
Who they are: An inclusive, mission-driven media company investing in solutions to grow Black-owned businesses, shift more ad spending to Black-owned media outlets and create partnerships between Black-owned brands and media companies.
How they innovate: Group Black partners with media companies using Uplift, which helps match Black creators with 200 brands in their network.
Financials: According to ZoomInfo, total revenue is $1.2 billion.
Impact: It gives back portions of its advertising to support Black creators. Case studies show its impact through partnerships such as helping place art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most famous Black artists, in the halls of six historically Black colleges and universities for the first time.
Photo cred: courtesy of Group Black
Most Innovative Media Company
Who they are: From health care to fashion, getting news you care about without looking up dozens of individual media sources can be daunting. Flipboard solves this for readers looking for news of the day and in-depth features alike, calling itself the “first and only social magazine.” On the app, readers customize content areas of interest, like food, entertainment, sports, etc., so they see a variety of only what they’re truly interested in.
How they innovate: Flipboard helps readers efficiently access news by creating a “magazine” of their interests. Readers can tailor their news selections to their personal preferences by saving and sharing those stories within the platform.
Financials: According to Crunchbase, total funding is $235.5 million.
Impact: As AI evolves within media, Flipboard made a custom Bluesky feed using AI that gives users greater control over their social media algorithm.
Most Innovative Company in Health & Wellness
4. Seed Health Inc.
Who they are: Seed is a direct-to-consumer, research-backed probiotic company whose products are available for a monthly subscription fee of $49.99.
How they innovate: The company believes “the science of probiotics demands a new standard.” Currently, the company offers just two consumer products; however, the science and testing that go into their products is anything but limited. Based on robust clinical research, it collects probiotic strains and puts them to the test in a high-tech simulator known as SHIME®, which mimics biological conditions from stomach to colon. Formula information and testing data are transparent and accessible, and its scientific board includes researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project.
Financials: Seed is a privately held company; revenue and earnings are not publicly available. According to WWD, the company raised $40 million in Series A funding in 2021.
Impact: Seed’s combination of scientific rigor, social impact work and award-winning product design, plus a subscription model that eliminates the overhead of brick-and-mortar retail, make it a standout in an otherwise overcrowded and underregulated supplements industry.
Most Innovative Travel Company
Who they are: This UK-based resource uses experts and partnerships to help rental property owners eco-fy their guests’ stays and simplify the process of owning and renting out a property. The company passes along information about programs and resources, eliminating barriers to the knowledge vacation rental owners need.
How they innovate: One such collaboration, with Vacation Donations, helped connect guests departing from vacation rental properties with a place to leave extra food that would otherwise go in the trash.
Financials: Not available
Impact: EnviroRental has helped vacation rental owners around the world create sustainable vacation rentals and processes surrounding them, cutting costs along the way.
Photo cred: courtesy of Travel Environmental
Most Innovative Company in Beauty
6. Function of Beauty
Who they are: Function of Beauty, a hair care and beauty brand launched in 2016, is best known for offering customized shampoo, conditioner and styling products based on a user’s hair type, styling goals and more.
How they innovate: Its cruelty-free formulas (a whopping 12 billion custom combinations are possible!) are made to order, with select products available for purchase at retailers like Target and Sephora. Its innovation comes through its top-down approach to integration: It’s cut out the go-between by building a first-of-its-kind production facility, which processes and ships orders within hours. (An algorithm creates each formula based on customers’ answers to a free online quiz). The company’s influencer strategy uses partnerships with popular YouTube creators to further drive customer acquisition.
Financials: Function of Beauty is not publicly traded; revenue estimates vary. A 2022 Glossy article notes a reported annual revenue of $100 million and that the company is in a “prime spot” for potential acquisition or a public offering. The company raised $150 million in private equity funding in 2020.
Impact: Also notable is the brand’s commitment to clean beauty and sustainability—its award-winning formulas are vegan as well as cruelty-, sulfate- and paraben-free and arrive in recyclable bottles and packaging.
Most Innovative Marketing/PR Company
7. No. 29
Who they are: When Erin Allweiss and Melody Serafino founded No. 29 Communications in 2013, “sustainability” and “impact” were far from the buzzwords they are today. Fast forward to now, and No. 29 is one of the first PR agencies entirely dedicated to sustainability and social impact, with a client list that includes VEJA, TED, Rothy’s, Happiest Baby, Book of the Month and more.
Financials: The company declined to share revenue information but confirmed that it’s doubled its client base in the past year-and-a-half.
Impact: Further expanding their impact, Allweiss and Serafino launched Enough., a podcast and newsletter dedicated to spotlighting the individuals and groups who are actively revolutionizing their industries for the better.
Most Innovative Company in Hospitality
8. Travelers Haven by Blueground
Who they are: This Denver-based on-demand housing-solution provider helps other companies’ nomadic workforces find housing. The company focuses on traveling professionals, often called digital nomads, across multiple industries, ranging from construction to health care. Its goal is to enable everyone to have on-demand housing in each city, town and village.
How they innovate: Their mission is on filling a specific need—helping nomadic workers get set up to help contribute to the economy, wherever they are working, in a variety of industries.
Financials: According to The Denver Post, approximately $100 million in 2022.
Impact: Travelers Haven wants to close the workforce housing gap for workers who spend extended time away from home and provide safe and comfortable housing that is more than a short-term vacation rental and less than a year-long lease.
Photo cred: Ground picture/Shutterstock
Most Innovative Education Company
9. Create Every Opportunity
Who they are: An immersive web-based education program for high school students, college athletes and treatment centers that teaches the fundamentals of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Create Every Opportunity recently expanded in September to include CEO Connect at Home, a program for families.
How they innovate: To increase access in all socioeconomic communities, it offers varying price points for underserved students. Students can take the course as an elective, class or online enrichment program; optional teacher training is also available.
Financials: Not available
Impact: The program aims to fill the gaps in mandated finance education, which is currently only required in around half of U.S. states, to help set up all students for success.
Most Innovative Sustainability Company
10. Ascend Elements
Who they are: Mining is out and renewable energy is in—for Earth’s sake. This company is working to expedite the transition to clean energy by recycling lithium-ion batteries in new ways and supplying sustainable, engineered battery materials to support the electric vehicle surge.
How they innovate: Ascend Elements creates electric vehicle battery materials (cathode active materials) with up to 100% recycled materials to contribute to a world with “zero carbon emissions.”
Financials: As of September, it raised $542 million in new equity investments, including $460 million in Series D investments and $82 million of additional investments from earlier this year.
Impact: Last year, it opened one of North America’s largest battery recycling plants in Georgia. In June, it landed a $1 billion deal to produce key battery materials for 750,000 electric cars per year in Kentucky.
Most Innovative Companies to Watch in 2024: Honorable Mentions
Move aside, fish farms. Forever Oceans is succeeding at deep water fish farming, allowing fish to drift with currents as if being raised in the wild. It uses modular fish enclosures, sensors and software to raise kanpachi, a yellowtail species. Unlike some other companies’ processes, its operations don’t damage the ocean ecosystem, and it creates 20% less emissions than salmon production, The Nature Conservancy reports.
Moonbug Entertainment is giving Disney and others a run for its money—at least in the kid’s entertainment industry. It’s on a mission to produce and publish content focusing on compassion, empathy and resilience. You may have overheard their content as your child watched CoComelon, Blippi, Morphle and others.
Amid the rising cost of countless subscription-based streaming apps, the satellite reemerges, thanks to the E.W. Scripps Company’s determination to increase access to basic channels like NBC and ABC for all. The company, which operates many channels, collaborated with others in The Free TV Project to take the guesswork out of helping viewers access the right antenna for them. It’s working, as antenna usage grew 9% between 2021-2022, according to Horowitz Research’s 2022 State of Media, Entertainment & Tech report.
Health & Wellness
Hims & Hers Health Inc.
Direct-to-consumer telehealth company Hims & Hers offers prescriptions from hair-loss medication to birth control pills to antidepressants—in all 50 states. The company aims to provide “health care, as it should be’’ via personalized, convenient and affordable online care. Their recent partnerships include an ambassadorship with actress Kristen Bell, the 2021 acquisition of teledermatology provider Apostrophe and a forthcoming heart-health initiative for men that includes access to new medications and lab services.
Packing and lugging a suitcase through an airport only to lose it along your journey is one of the most annoying aspects of travel. Instead, ship your luggage ahead with LugLess, a company helping travelers ship their bags for the same price as checking it with your airline.
Day Rate Beauty
Latina founder and celeb hairstylist Aviva Jansen Perea (who is behind America Ferrera’s Barbie movie premiere bun and iconic updos on celebs like Rosario Dawson) launched her own sustainable accessory line, Day Rate Beauty, with an eye for the environment and inclusivity—all of the plastic-free hairpins come in 10 different hair color tones. A portion of each sale goes to charity, including organizations like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Marketing & PR
Founded in 1952 in Chicago, Edelman is one of the top and longest-running global communications firms in the U.S., with over 60 offices around the world. Boasting clients such as eBay, HP and Dove, they are moving into the future by helping their clients harness the power of AI instead of running from it.
Kimpton® Boutique Hotels & Restaurants
The Kimpton boutique hotel and restaurant chain boasts more accessibility than you’d expect from a typical stay. It’s especially accommodating to parents, providing breast milk storage fridges, baby bath products and swings, and even scooters for older kids to enjoy their stay and explore the city in some locations.
Lumio by SMART Technologies is a web-based learning platform that makes learning fun and engaging on student devices. Teachers can transform lessons into dynamic, interactive learning experiences using activities, games, group workspaces and formative assessments. It has been awarded the Digital Promise certification, a research-based design certification that recognizes outstanding instructional learning products.
Ordering furniture with Inside Weather, from chairs and tables to couches and decor, results in a carbon footprint reduction of 75% (called a “carbon-negative” shipment). One box equals two trees planted and renewable foam packaging protects furniture, plus one sofa is made from 200 plastic recycled bottles.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of SUCCESS Magazine. Header photo courtesy of UPSIDE Foods.