When startups grow, they are inevitably subjected to the idea of making an “exit.” But what’s an exit, you may ask. An exit happens when a startup becomes fully ripened and begins its transition through an initial public offering (IPO). It’s the next stage for startups which have enjoyed considerable success in their niche (i.e., billions of dollars in revenue) – they have to make more millions and start playing with the big boys.

Below are some of the few exit-bound startups to watch out for.


Founder Drew Houston conceived the idea for Dropbox after forgetting his USB flash drive repeatedly while he was a student. To him, similarly natured services back then were marred with issues and appeared complicated; so he began making something for himself and later found it could be of good use to others. As a file hosting startup that offers cloud-based storage and file synchronization, the service follows the freemium business model, where basic use is free of charge, but a premium is charged for the use of more advanced features and functionality. As of October 2011, it has been reported that the service had more than 50 million users and is said to be close to debuting in an IPO.


Evernote was launched as an open beta service for notetaking and archiving in June 2008. A “note” can be a piece of text, a webpage, an excerpt from a webpage, a photo, a voice memo, or a handwritten note. Notes can also have file attachments or sorted into folders. They can then be tagged, annotated, edited, commented upon, searched, or exported. This multi-OS service also offers online sync and backup and offers both paid and ad supported free versions. CEO Phil Libin once said that he is taking his time to make his company “IPO-ready” by the end of 2013. This statement came immediately after the 30 million-user-strong service landed a massive $70 million (at a valuation of $1 billion) in a new private funding round led by Meritech Capital and CBC Capital.


Launched in 2003 by Vlad Shmunis, RingCentral is a top business telephone provider headquartered in San Mateo, California. It is one of those fledging tech startups that have successfully tapped the cloud to deliver its services. Through the combination of hosted services and the fundamental makeup of business telephone systems, the company was able to offer telephony with robust features and advanced voice and fax functionality suitable to small enterprises running on tight budgets. Over 200,000 business customers are currently subscribed to the service. After previously raising $45 million from Cisco, Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, DAG Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank, the company recently received another $10 million of funding from investors Scale Venture Partners and Cisco.

These are but a few of the startups specializing in cloud services which have seen unstoppable growth in their respective markets over the last few years. Expect to see or hear their names more as they join more established cloud-based players like Amazon AWS, Google, and Salesforce, to name a few.

By Nancy Perkins

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