Where it's based: Mountain View, Calif.
When it was founded: 2008
Why it's Fierce: Bump is a prime example of smart, modern software solving a problem once considered addressable only by hardware. There are two parts to the company's service: the app running on your device and a matching algorithm running on the company's cloud-based servers. The app on your phone uses the phone's sensors to literally "feel" a bump--contact between two phones--and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and--via location information and characteristics of the bump event--pairs up phones that felt the same bump. The result? Quick and easy exchanges of phone numbers, photos or lists of friends (as long as both parties are running the Bump application).
With just 15 employees and around $3 million in Series A funding from the likes of Sequoia Capital, Bump has managed to solve with software what teams of Bluetooth proponents had hoped to address with hardware.
Although it's currently only available for iPhone and Android phones, Bump has recorded more than 10 million downloads. And though the app itself is free to end users, a key element of Bump's still-under-construction business model is the API it licenses to other application developers that allows the inclusion of bumping services into virtually any app--PayPal is one of the 60 or so apps that uses Bump's technology to add a snappy element to person-to-person interactions. Bump's API is free to smaller developers; for larger app developers there is a fee.
What's next: Bump is gearing up to release version 2.0 of its flagship app in the next few months, which the company promises will include a range of new features derived from user feedback. In the long term, the company hopes to become a standard service used by smartphone owners--and once it reaches that point, company management will begin implementing an official revenue model.