The 10 Coolest Networking Startups Of 2020

With digital transformation at an all-time high, here are ten of the hottest networking upstarts that made their mark in 2020.

Changing the Networking Game

It‘s safe to say that 2020 was a year of unexpected challenges that required the IT industry to step up like never before.

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The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses around the globe to close their doors and send most—if not all—employees to work remotely from home. This meant that almost overnight, enterprise networks, which largely consisted of traffic coming from corporate headquarters and branch offices, saw brand-new traffic and usage patterns from teleworking. At the same time, edge networking was on the rise. New use cases emerged as healthcare facilities and schools required connectivity in parking lots and retail and restaurants needed curbside services, not to mention, the uptick across the board in IoT. The new requirements paved the way for networking upstarts new on the scene to make their mark on the industry with multi-cloud networking solutions, data center software offerings, networking as a service, and those that are harnessing cellular technologies, like LTE and 5G.

From those specializing in managed IT to connectivity and 5G, here are 10 of the hottest enterprise networking startups of 2020.


CEO: Amir Khan

Multi-cloud networking startup Alkira emerged from stealth mode in April with its consumption-based Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes.

San Jose, Calif.-based Alkira is funded by Sequoia Capital, as well as Kleiner Perkins and GV, formerly Google Ventures. Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital jointly led Alkira’s Series A investment round in August, with GV investing in a follow-on round of financing totaling $30 million so far.

The startup is going to market primarily though channel partners, Alkira told CRN.


CEO: David Cheriton

Intent-based networking upstart Apstra got its start six years ago with its platform to simplify data center network management, including the automating, troubleshooting and security of the network.

Apstra in March launched its first formal partner program: The Apstra Partner Advantage program. The program offers a straight-forward approach to working and growing with Apstra and targets system integrators and resellers that are looking for a differentiated data center networking automation solution that can work well with third-party networking products, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company told CRN.


CEO: Rajeev Shah

Enterprise 5G startup Celona just emerged on the scene in November with its platform that will make LTE and 5G a reliable and viable wireless option for enterprise connectivity. The first generation of Celona’s platform will enable the creation of 4G/LTE private networks, with 5G slated for later in 2021 as more 5G-capable devices hit the market, the company said.

The one-year old upstart, based in Cupertino, California, was founded by a team that have been part of companies like Qualcomm and Cisco and have experience building products, such as chipsets, cloud-based software, and Wi-Fi and cellular solutions.

Celona plans on doing all of its business though the channel.


CEO: Vinay Ravuri

EdgeQ, a self-proclaimed 5G systems-on-a-chip company, emerged from stealth mode in November with plans to bring AI to the edge of the network with 5G. The company plans to target specific verticals including manufacturing, construction, energy, automotive, warehousing, and surveillance with its platform.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup with 90 employees was created by a team of semiconductor, 5G, Wi-Fi, and AI industry veterans hailing from Qualcomm, Intel, and Broadcom. EdgeQ announced $51 million in funding in November.


CEO: Andrew Gregoire

For2Fi was launched this year when former MSP owner Andrew Gregoire, co-founder and CEO of For2Fi, noticed a hole in the market when it came to business LTE solutions.

Fall River, Mass.-based For2Fi today is bringing wireless LTE offerings to the channel. The company’s high-speed wireless services are a great fit for hard-to-reach businesses and those that need connectivity immediately. In fact, For2Fi worked alongside solution provider Last Mile Strategies to help local businesses rapidly regain connectivity in the wake of the deadly Category 4 Hurricane Laura that hit the shores of Louisiana in August, the companies told CRN.

For2Fi is going to market exclusively through the channel, the company said.


CEO: Rod Nelson

Next-generation connectivity provider Geoverse has been designing, deploying, and operating private LTE networks for business customers since 2017. The company’s private 5G/LTE wireless network offering lets users and devices to roam across public carrier networks seamlessly and securely.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Geoverse in November bought on Bob Gault as its chief commercial officer. Gault, who is now responsible for the sales and marketing for Geoverse, was formerly Extreme Networks’ chief revenue officer.


CEO: Dave Ward

Three-year-old PacketFabric offers a Network-as-a-Service platform for scalable, private connectivity. PacketFabric in January said that its hosted cloud connectivity platform offers more capacity, reduced monthly recurring costs and additional on-ramps to public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud. PacketFabric got a new CEO in April when Dave Ward, Cisco’s then-CTO of engineering and chief architect, took the helm.

The Culver City, Calif.-based company in August teamed up with Cloudflare and released Cloudflare Network Interconnect, which the companies said brings full network functionality to the physical network edge.


CEO: Murad Kablan

Networking startup Stateless is bringing to the table an enterprise software platform that offers virtual network functions, such as firewalls and load balancers, which can be offered as service.

The three-year old company, which is VC-backed, recently introduced its Centric Networking technology solution, Luxon, which eliminates the need for expensive networking hardware to accomplish sophisticated marketing tasks, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based company.


CEO: Yaron Ravkaie

Cloud WAN provider Teridion comes to the table with a public cloud WAN service that provides global coverage, unlimited bandwidth and horizontal scale. The Teridion network is powered by Teridion Curated Routing, which connects WAN acceleration techniques with metrics-driven route optimization, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company. Teridion’s flagship platform, Teridion for Enterprise, can be integrated with third-party SD-WAN solutions.

Founded in 2014, six-year old Teridion got a new leader in January when Ravkaie took over at the helm as CEO for Saar Gillai, an HPE executive that had led the company since 2017.

Uplevel Systems

CEO: Tom Alexander

Five-year-old Uplevel Systems offers a simplified approach to managed IT services for small businesses that can be served up through MSP partners, the company said. Uplevel’s solution today includes security functions such as firewall, IPS, secure DNS, VPN and other offerings.

The networking upstart in August launched a new purchasing model to help MSPs extend more IT options to their end customers in the form of an upfront purchasing option -- the Equipment Purchase Program. The new program gives businesses with distributed offices or employees working remotely another way to procure much-needed IT products, including buying hardware upfront, or, via a monthly subscription, Uplevel told CRN.