But first, let me tell you what we're looking for. InformationWeek's focus is, as always, on business technology. So we're interested first and foremost in startups with products and services for the business market -- enterprise software, security, networking, mobile technologies, network and systems management, storage, new appliances, and other components of IT infrastructure, as well as software as a service and cloud computing. In addition, we'll consider new technologies that are brought into the enterprise by employees who can't live without them -- mobile devices, social networking, and other Web apps that spur productivity even if they don't come through the front door of the IT department.
The technologies and the companies behind them will be evaluated on the following criteria: innovation and their ability to inject new ways of doing things into business processes; value, which is reflected in lower costs, increased sales, higher productivity, or improved customer loyalty; and enterprise-readiness, meaning that a product or service scales and can be deployed and managed as necessary by IT pros.
In recognition of the fact that IT departments tend to prefer tech startups with real products and bona fide customers, we'll consider startups up to five years old.
This is the first time InformationWeek has set out to identify the top 50 business-technology startups, but we'll be drawing from our experience over the past couple of years tracking and analyzing emerging companies in our Startup City blog and Startup Of The Week profiles. Last year, in a process somewhat like this, we generated a list of Top 10 Startups and invited six of those companies to present at our annual conference before a panel of CIO judges. Xkoto, which makes database load-balancing software, edged out the others in our judges' ratings.
Now we're casting the net wider. We invite readers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and marketing folks to submit your favorite startups, and we'll open the list of companies that results from that to online voting. As a last step, InformationWeek editors will run the companies through our vetting process, assessing them based on the above criteria and publishing the InformationWeek Startup 50 in the spring with profiles and analysis.
You can nominate startups for InformationWeek's Startup 50 several ways. Simply drop me an e-mail ([email protected]) with the name of your favorite company and a few words on why it stands out or, if you're a company insider, submit the company via our "tell us about your startup" online form. You can even nominate startups in the comments section of this post; we'll monitor and pull your suggestions into the process.
So let's get going; tell us about your favorite tech startups!