2010 Fierce 15 startups aim to solve industry problems, tap new markets

Sue MarekTimes are tough for the entrepreneur looking for opportunities in the wireless industry. Venture capital is still flowing into the telecom industry, but at a much slower pace than in previous years. In fact, according to the National Venture Capital Association, venture capital funding in the telecom sector declined to $557.8 million last year, down from $1.67 billion in 2008.

Reduced VC funding means that fewer mobile startups are able to secure money to turn their ideas into reality. And that means those firms that do get funding are closely scrutinized by their investors, who are anxious to see a return on their investment dollars.

With that backdrop in mind, let me introduce to you the 2010 winners of the FierceWireless Fierce 15 awards. Every year, FierceWireless editors evaluate dozens of the most innovative and smart emerging companies in the wireless industry. Our final selections--the top 15--are listed here.

Fierce 15 Fiercewireless 2010Our selections are based on the numerous briefings and interactions we have with companies in the industry every year. To qualigy, a company must be privately held, well-funded, emerging (founded in the past decade or so) and have the potential to be a major player in the industry. We prefer the firm to be U.S.-based, but if it isn't we expect it to conduct a significant amount of business with firms in the U.S. since that is where the majority of our readers are located.

The 2010 Fierce 15 winners are fairly diverse--some provide highly technical solutions to network issues such as extending the self-optimizing network beyond the initial setup phase, while another provides an application that disables a cell phone's ability to text when it's traveling more than 5 miles per hour--thus putting a stop to the perils of texting while driving. A few winners are attempting to extend wireless capability into new areas--such as utilities and the healthcare industry.

One thing all our Fierce 15 companies have in common is a smart management team and the potential to advance the wireless industry. Click here for the firms we believe will be success stories in the coming decade. --Sue