Industrial analytics firm, Caterpillar partner Uptake named “Hottest Startup of 2015” by Forbes

Updated Dec 26, 2015
Uptake CEO Brad Keywell speaking in Chicago in October.Uptake CEO Brad Keywell speaking in Chicago in October.

Even Forbes admits it’s a bit surprised to find Uptake, an analytics firm whose customers are entirely based in industrial markets, at the top of its “Hottest Startups of 2015” list, besting tech darling Slack and consumer-facing companies such as Porch, PicsArt, Casper and even ride-sharing service Uber.

The publication even wrote an article explaining the surprising ranking, describing Uptake as “a secretive data analytics startup that popped up in Chicago this October when it raised $45 million at a valuation north of $1 billion.” Brad Keywell, a cofounder of Groupon, is the company’s CEO.

Slack, a messaging platform highly praised by just about any workplace and tech publication it comes in contact with, was ranked no. 2, despite its $2.8 billion valuation.

Forbes’ affinity for Uptake is based heavily on the “Internet of Things,” (IoT) the ever-growing networking and interconnectivity between us, our smartphones and formerly “dumb” devices like thermostats, vehicles, and kitchen scales. IoT is growing into a huge business and Uptake landed at the top of this “hot list” because its business is built around better connecting industrial companies with huge “things,” like bulldozers and locomotives.

As we detailed in an in-depth look at the partnership in October, Caterpillar is working with Uptake to bring predictive diagnostics to every Cat machine in the world. Cat chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman has said the partnership will allow Cat “to shift from a reactive ‘repair after failure’ mode to a proactive ‘repair before failure’ stance.”

Cat made a minority investment in Uptake earlier this year and Oberhelman said the move was out of a desire inside the company to avoid potential disruption from a competitor—or a startup they haven’t even heard of yet.

“If we don’t do this, somebody else will,” he explained. “We decided that maybe we better disrupt ourselves—in our own way—before somebody does an Uber to us,” referring to the popular ride-sharing service that has caused a world of hurt to taxi services around the globe.

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And the way Forbes sees it, the partnership with Cat is likely to only be one of many to come for Uptake.

“In other words, Uptake will be the out of house software development partner for companies like Caterpillar who want to turn their machines into devices empowered with the newfangled Internet of things–but don’t have the expertise to do it themselves,” according to the report.