Oct 16, 2014

Top 10 manufacturing startups 2014

5 min
Nest Labs.
While the large multinationals dictate the global notoriety of trends, we take a look at the fresh-faced startups not only punching above their weigh...

While the large multinationals dictate the global notoriety of trends, we take a look at the fresh-faced startups not only punching above their weight to meet these trends, but adding a little innovation of their own

Nest Labs

Former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers founded Nest Labs in 2010.

Nest Labs specializes in home automation devices that are self-learning and sensor-driven.  The first product they manufactured was a thermostat that could program itself based on user preferences.  The thermostat employed sensor technology to detect when the home was vacant in order to lower energy use.  Earlier this year, Google acquired the company for $3.2 billion.  The company has grown from Fadell and Rogers to over 400 employees.  In June, the company--which still operates under the name Nest Labs--announced that they would buy startup Dropcam for $555 million.


This San Francisco-based tablet cover company was founded by Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton in 2010, launching alongside the iPad.  The pair began their business by cutting bamboo frames on CNC machines at TechShop, a community-based workshop and prototyping studio in San Francisco.  Though the company now has a 10,000-foot factory for the construction of their sleeves, each DODOcase is still made by hand.  Within the first month, orders went from 10 to 900 a day, and the company has expanded from six employees to 25.

Variable Technologies

A former developer of sensor technologies for NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. George Yu developed his idea for the NODE wireless sensor platform for smart devices.  His team began to focus on how NODE could be used
to aid businesses in their supply chain processes.  With Variable's API, mobile app developers and agencies have also developed solutions for emerging market opportunities utilizing NODE modular sensors in the manufacturing industry as well as monitoring, transport and logistics.  NODE+chroma has become a leader in digital color referencing and color library management across multiple industries around the world.

3D Robotics

Chris Anderson quit his job as editor-in-chief of Wired magazine to focus on his startup, which makes flying drones.  Through a UAV platform, the company's drones capture aerial imagery for enjoyment and data analysis, enabling mapping, surveying and 3D modeling.  The venture capital-backed startup has grown to employ 180 people in North America and has over 28,000 customers worldwide.  The company is headquartered in Berkeley, California and operates engineering facilities in San Diego and manufacturing in Tijuana, Mexico.  3D's technology is currently used across multiple industries around the world, including agriculture, photography, construction, search and rescue and ecological study.


Created by Benjamin Cohen, Stuart Heys, and Mark Sibenac, the Blink/Steady campaign launched in April on Kickstarter and very quickly met its goal.  Blink/Steady is a multi-sensor bike light that uses an accelerometer that can sense when the rider is moving and a light sensor that knows when it is dark enough to turn on.  The company makes each piece by hand using locally sourced materials and labor, operating out of a repurposed knitting factory in Brooklyn, New York.

Oculus VR

Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey founded their virtual reality tech development company in 2012.  The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that enables the player to be immersed in the virtual world.  The process uses a 360-degree camera that captures all angles of the simulation.  The Oculus headset displays the motion and follows the wearer’s motions.  In March, Facebook announced that it was buying Oculus VR for $2 billion, less than two years after the Irvine, California based startup launched its successful Kickstarter campaign.  This was an impressive feat considering that the Oculus Rift headset is still in development.


Pasadena's NewMatter was founded in 2013 by Steve Schell and business partner Bill Gross, who also happens to be founder, chairman and CEO of Idealab.  The startup specializes in 3D printers, which they are able to sell for a considerably lower cost than most due to a system they dreamed up that requires fewer parts and less assembly than their competitors' printers.  The company launched a successful Indiegogo campaign in May and now sell the printers through their website.  NewMatter also launched an online store where users can buy and sell 3D-printable designs. The New Matter Store features customizable models and limited-edition items created by renowned designers and artists.

Thalmic Labs

Founded in 2013 by mechatronics engineers Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant, this Canadian startup raised $14.5 million in Series A funding to develop the technology used by Myo, a wristband that uses biometrical signals to track and interpret movement.  The wristband provides accurate, gesture-based control of computing devices including desktop computers, smartphones and tablets as well as a range of other possible devices.  After two years of development, the Myo is ready to manufacture and ship to customers worldwide.  Over the past year, Thalmic Labs has become a serious contender among hardware startups and was even named Techvibes’ 2013 Startup of the year.


San Francisco's Plethora markets itself as "The Full-Auto Factory of the Future."  The startup, founded by Nick Pinkston and Jeremy Herrman, aims to make hardware more accessible to businesses.  The pair put the expertise of a manufacturing engineer into software to give real-time feedback to customers and quickly manufacture and deliver parts.  Users can send Plethora CAD files of what they need made and the company will manufacture the parts as soon as the following day.  Initially, Plethora is only offering CNC milling services but hopes to expand into other manufacturing and finishing processes in the near future.


Matterfab launched with hopes to reduce the cost associated with metal 3D printing through machines that house a high-powered laser that welds metal together. Co-founders Matt Burris and Dave Warren have been working on their prototype in Lemnos Labs in San Francisco and hope to ship test units of their printers in January.  A statement on the startup's website reads "Our goal is to build a platform that can replace traditional manufacturing and surpass it, unleashing innovation, imagination, and an ability for anyone to create and shape their world, making designers the new manufacturers."

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Mar 14, 2019

Top 10 Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies

Catherine Sturman
5 min
FMCG companies
10. L’Oréal

10. L’Oréal

Founded in 1919 in France, L’Oréal has grown into a multinational brand with over 82,000 employees, becoming one of the most internationally recognised FMCG companies worldwide.

Registering 498 patents in 2017, the business is focused on innovation and developing strong relationships with suppliers and partners. 100% of its strategically important suppliers will also take part in its sustainable development programme in 2020.

9. Phillip Morris

Despite various campaigns, over a billion people are set to smoke in 2025. Multinational FMCG company, Philip Morris remains a leading tobacco company, expanding its footprint into more than 180 key markets.

With 81,000 employees covering 80 languages in total, the company houses a comprehensive, agricultural supply chain; sourcing 400,000 metric tonnes of tobacco each year in partnership with 350,000+ tobacco farmers. The company has also sought to embrace the manufacture of electronic devices for heated tobacco products and ecigarettes.

8. JBS

Launched in the 1950s, global Brazilian food industry leader JBS is now home to 300 production facilities with over 10 billion-dollar brands under its umbrella., such as Seara, Swift, Friboi, Doriana, Moy Park, Pilgrim’s, Primo and more.

Serving more than 300,000 customers, it is the world’s largest company in the beef sector, with over 235,000 employees. Its Legal Supplier Programme has enabled beef suppliers to adapt to Brazil’s environmental legislation, whilst the Green Light Pact initiative has seen cattle breeding centres in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil improve their production practices.

7.  Coca Cola

Coca-Cola’s wide-ranging distribution network, strong portfolio and exceptional marketing capabilities have made it one of the most iconic FMCG companies in the world.

Available in over 200 countries, its products are supplied through one of the world’s largest beverage distribution networks, where suppliers must adhere to its Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (SAGP) and Supplier Engagement Program.

Adopting SmartLabel technology across its manufacturing operations, the business is also leading the way in the identification, implementation and sharing of best practices. Each product now houses a QR code, providing complete transparency. The company is also looking to reduce the emissions from its production processes, where 42% of energy used at its sites is sourced from renewable energy sources.

6. AB InBev

Originally established by combining three big companies: Interbrew, Ambev and Anheuser-Busch, Belgian-Brazilian beverage company AB InBev is officially the world’s largest beverage business.

Selling over 500 beer brands, such as Budweiser, Corona, Leffe and Quilmes in more than 100 countries, the company is acutely aware of its need to frequently adapt and enhance its distribution network.


Partnering with nearly 50,000 farmers, the business is committed to sustainable sourcing, where its flagship platform, SmartBarley has utilised data analytics to support more than 5,000 enrolled farmers improve their productivity and environmental performance. AI and blockchain will also support its manufacturing capabilities.

5. Unilever

Housing some of the most recognisable everyday brands, Unilever’s aggressive acquisition strategy and strong brand presence has seen it become a household name across 190 countries worldwide. Its R&D centres have sought to fully bolster its manufacturing operations and vast distribution network, where the business has maintained its zero non-hazardous waste-to- landfill agenda since 2017.

Additionally, a number of its initiatives have provided employment opportunities to those in rural areas. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) has enabled half of the company’s agricultural raw materials, such as palm oil to become sustainably sourced. Not only that, 26 sustainable living brands are now situated under the company’s umbrella.

4. PepsiCo

The main rival to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo’s beverages, as well as its food products continue to grow in popularity and demand.

Harnessing significant brand awareness, the Fortune 500 company is one of the most admired companies in the world. Its six global divisions form part of its aim to transform its products which are delivered through its extensive distribution network to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers.

3. Procter & Gamble

Following from its acquisition of personal care company Gillette in 2005, Procter & Gamble has become one the largest FMCG companies, with operations in up to 70 countries.

Providing a range of personal and consumer health products to five billion customers, the company’s recent plans to acquire the consumer health division of Merck Group, as well as implementing a new simplified management structure will form part of its 2020 vision.

2. Johnson & Johnson

A firm family favourite, Johnson & Johnson remains one of the most influential FMCG companies. With products in three categories, Consumer Healthcare, Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals, the business has grown at a considerate pace, with up to 250 subsidiaries under its umbrella.

The company’s complex, global distribution network and diverse supplier base has seen the business embrace new technologies across its network, as it continues to thrive in its role in delivering quality products and services at affordable prices for consumers.

1. Nestle AG

Undertaking a number of corporate acquisitions, Swiss food and beverage company, Nestle has become the largest in the world, with more than 2000 brands available in 189 countries.

Home to the world’s largest private food and nutrition research organisation, the company invested US$1.7bn in its research capabilities in 2017 alone, supporting its 30 R&D facilities worldwide. Its recent partnership with Starbucks will see the business bolster its complex distribution network.

Additionally, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals, Nestle is striving for zero environmental impact across its operations. Providing clear labels across its manufacturing lines, the company provides nutritional knowledge as well as supporting local farmers who provide high quality ingredients within its sustainable sourcing efforts.

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