19 DeFi Startups To Watch

$38.2 billion is locked in Defi, up from $700 million at the start of 2020. We’d like to provide a list of 19 rapidly growing DeFi startups, selected by Josh Howarth, founder of Exploding Topics, to help you get a sense of what’s going on in this interesting field.

1. Uniswap

Uniswap is one of the original decentralized finance operators. Founded in 2018, this startup has raised $11 in capital and processed over $209B in volume. Its 5-year search growth is 5700%.

2. Nexus Mutual

Nexus Mutual is different from many of the DeFi start-ups on this list because it’s an insurance company. Using the Ethereum blockchain, users from anywhere in the world can pool their risk together without the need for an intermediary. Nexus plans to roll out more insurance products in the future.
Founded in London in 2017, this startup has raised $3 million in funding.

3. Rocketpool

Rocketpool is a staking option that allows users to stake with less than required minimums while making the process more accessible. Rocketpool was founded in 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. Its 5-year search growth is 99X+


AAVE is one of the biggest players in the DeFi space. Users can lend crypto and get a 1:1 ratio, leading to interest that grows over time. Founded in 2017 in London, this startup has raised $49 million and has a search growth rate of 49% over the last five years.

5. Dharma DeFi

Dharma Labs is an app that connects directly to a user’s bank account. It aims to bridge traditional banking with decentralized finance options. Founded in 2017 in California, this startup has raised $7.1 million in funding in the series A round.

6. Synthetix

Synthetix was founded in Sydney, Australia in 2017. This startup is the leading platform in the DeFi space for derivatives trading that is on-chain, secure, and allows users to stake SNX tokens. With almost $2B locked in the platform, it’s clearly taken off worldwide. Up till now, the platform has raised $46.1M in funding.

7. Balancer

Founded in 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, Balancer works as a decentralized protocol for swapping tokens, providing liquidity pools and working as an automatic market maker. Its 5-year search growth is 9%. This startup has raised $32.3 million through its ICO.

8. 0x Protocol

0x Protocol is aiming to power the future of DeFi applications through its liquidity books that aggregate data and provide fast, accurate pricing. Its 5-year search growth is 4600%. The startup, founded in 2018 in San Francisco, has raised $39M in funding in the Series A round.

9. Reflexer Labs

Reflexer Labs was founded in 2020. Understanding the incredible amount of volatility in DeFi and in crypto as a whole, they created the RAI, an Ethereum backed stable asset that’s used as collateral with other DeFi protocols, including many on this list. This San Francisco-based startup has raised $5.8M in funding.

10. Bancor

Swiss startup Bancor was one of the first players in DeFi. Founded in 2016, it allows users to generate cryptocurrencies and functions as a decentralized exchange. It has raised $152.3 million in the Seed round- an impressive achievement even compared to many other big players in the field.

11. MakerDao

MakerDao brands itself as a decentralized autonomous organization, using the world’s first “unbiased currency called Dai. Maker is an entire ecosystem where holders of Dai can vote on changes to the Maker protocol itself.
The Santa Cruz- based startup has also raised $54.5 million in funding.

12. Yearn Finance

Yearn Finance is the go-to platform for yield farmers looking for arbitrage opportunities by providing tokens as liquidity to different networks. Founded in 2020, this South African project’s 1-year search growth is 2100%.

13. 1Inch

Founded in 2020, this startup is still quite new in the field but they has already raised $175M in their most recent series B funding round. There is not so much information about this startup but it has been revealed that the 1Inch token will be governed by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), which will grant users voting rights in exchange for holding the 1Inch token. Their 1-year search growth is 207%.

14. Compound

Founded in 2017 in San Francisco, Compound Finance is an open-source interest rate protocol that is working to make novel financial applications available to the masses. As of today, there is nearly $15B locked in the Compound DeFi system. Users earn interest ranging from 2%-8.5% by supplying crypto to the ecosystem. The startup has raised $33.2M in funding.

15. Nifty Gateway

Nifty Gateway was founded in 2016 in San Francisco. The startup was recently acquired by Gemini and the Winklevoss twins. It aims to bring the DeFi concept of decentralizing artwork to the NFT market. Its 5-year search growth is 7200%.

16. DYDX

DYDX is another San Francisco- based startup, founded in 2017. It is one of the leading DeFi exchanges currently out there. The exchange runs on audited smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. This firm has raised $87M million in its series C funding round.

17. Kyber Network

Kyber Network is a DeFi system that allows users to easily swap and convert different digital assets. Users can be paid in any token/crypto seamlessly in their Kyber wallet, but are also able to convert that payment instantly into crypto of their choice. This Singaporean 4 year old startup has raised $60M in funding.

18. Loopring

Loopring is another key player in the DeFi system. This Shanghai-based startup has raised $45M in funding through its ICO. The startup’s 4-year search growth is 3900%.

19. ChainLink

Founded in 2014, Chainlink is an oracle between complicated smart contracts and allows them to work together in unison. Seemingly unrelated smart contracts can be connected through using Chainlink. The Grand Cayman- based startup has raised $32M in funding through its ICO.

The project’s 5-year search growth is 700%.

These are 19 fast-growing DeFi startups that are redefining people’s conceptions of money and what it can do. These DeFi start-ups offer a consistent user experience across their products, as well as great branding and marketing, but most significantly, they offer a completely new way to move money in the digital age.

Sumarized from the article by Josh Howarth