The RealList 2018 features our very own LeagueSide, Keriton, and NeuroFlow.

Truth be told, when we hit “Publish” on the first realLIST in 2017 — a group of companies we deemed “real” or promising — we didn’t expect the return-on-investment to be so high.

We saw the slate of companies we watched throughout last year, both as an experiment and an exercise in future-gazing, find its way to the heart of the discussion in Philly’s tech ecosystem. realLIST startups launched products and raised millions of dollars to build out their operations. They shone on the global stage and partnered with Fortune 500 companies. They worked with government institutions and won awards.

In one way or another, they all showed us they were real.

And sure, some of the companies we picked had good odds at being successful: some were started by experts in their field or offered an original solution to the problems they tried to fix.

For the 2018 list, as me and editor Zack Seward argued back and forth over the nominees, the first thing we noticed was that there were no absolutely obvious No. 1. Our pick for the top slots reflects a mix of potential for success, good outcomes in 2017 and that certain ethereal quality that makes a startup at least feel real.

(By the way, this informed analysis is a keystone of the community journalism we produce at If you find this information valuable and unique, please consider becoming a member.)

To narrow the field of interesting, promising startups, we stuck to the same few rules laid last year. Companies must:

  • Have been founded no earlier than 2014, a sunset period cofounder Christopher Wink established in his 2012 definition of a startup. The sunset period, just like last year, knocked out a couple legit contenders.
  • Make the lion’s share of their revenue from a specific product offering. That means agencies were not in the game.
  • Companies that haven’t been through a significant exit event like mergers or acquisitions.

It is with a mix of great curiosity, hope (and a healthy dose of skepticism) that we present the realLIST Class of 2018:

Read the list and full article here