Startups are a dime a dozen in this age of TechCrunch, so how can a company expect to stand out? Crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter certainly help, giving both creative individuals and established entities an opportunity to sell their products, projects and concepts to the Web-savvy public. Rewards and incentives, à la Foursquare, are always compelling additions, too. And while the world has a hearty appetite for apps and Web services, startups are acknowledging the appeal of actual physical products, be it a watch that brings Android to your wrist or a computer packed into a USB stick. The more a product simplifies your life, the better case it has for ending up in your pocket (or on your mobile device).
We’ve profiled nine of the companies most likely to take the tech world by storm, thanks to their combination of innovation, practicality and ease of use. Judging by their initial success, we think you’ll want to know these names before they hit the big time—if they haven’t already.