The 10 Hottest Networking Startups Of 2021 (So Far)

With hybrid cloud and edge networking top of mind, here are 10 enterprise networking upstarts MSPs should know about that are making their mark on 2021 so far.

The Up-And-Comers

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If the last year and a half has taught the IT industry anything, it’s that hybrid cloud solutions and flexible buying options are no longer nice-to-haves, they’re a must for the majority of businesses, from the largest global enterprises to the smallest mom-and-pop shops.

Edge networking is also on the rise like never before. That’s because enterprise networks have seen grappling with brand-new traffic and usage patterns from teleworking. Not to mention all the new use cases emerging as healthcare facilities and schools required connectivity in parking lots, and retail businesses building out curbside services. It almost goes without saying that the cloud continues to rise in popularity, especially as solution providers help their customers gear up for the new normal and future networking requirements. This landscape is really paving the way for newcomers to jump onto the scene with their fresh take on subscription-based networking services and private next-generation wireless and cellular connectivity options.

From those specializing in automation and managed services, to connectivity and 5G, here are 10 of the hottest enterprise networking startups of 2021…so far.

For more of the biggest startups, products and news stories of 2021 so far, click here.


CEO: Amir Khan

Cloud networking-as-a-service startup Alkira emerged from stealth mode in 2020 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. Since then, the company has announced a close collaboration with the Microsoft for Startups program, a select group of emerging businesses hand-picked by Microsoft for the benefits they offer to Microsoft Azure customers in their journey to the cloud.

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 three-year-old startup is going to market primarily though channel partners, Alkira told CRN.


CEO: Steve Mullaney

Hybrid cloud network upstart Aviatrix Systems Inc. is making a name for itself by offering visibility into complex, multi-cloud networks for enterprises that are demand cloud-native networking offerings that support new ways of accessing applications. That means, the longtime networking incumbents won’t be winning in the new world, the company told CRN.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is looking to go to market with partners, but especially those solution providers that aren’t tied to the on-premise world. Aviatrix in February secured a $75 million Series D round.

Aviatrix’s long list of customers include VMware, Netflix and NASA.


CEO: Rajeev Shah

Enterprise 5G startup Celona emerged on the scene in November with its platform that will make LTE and 5G a reliable and viable wireless option for enterprise connectivity. In addition to the platform, the two-year old company also revealed a channel program and a strategic partnership with Aruba Networks for the reselling of Celona’s cellular products.

Celona, 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: Rod Nelson

Next-generation connectivity provider Geoverse has been designing, deploying, and operating private LTE networks for business customers for the last four years. 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. In May, the company formally launched its channel partner portal to complement its now six-month old National Partner Program.


CEO: Parag Thakore

Edge networking startup Infiot came out of stealth mode and burst onto the scene in 2020 with a new approach to edge networking and connectivity. The company is offering a cloud-delivered intelligent thin wireless edge access platform that supports wired, wireless and cellular connectivity. Infiot’s platform brings together connectivity, zero trust security and edge-computing for remote users, sites and devices anywhere in the world, according to the company.

Founded in 2018 by networking and SD-WAN industry veterans, the company in 2020 announced $15 million in a Series A funding round backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Neotribe Ventures, Westwave Capital, and Harpoon Ventures. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup said it is putting the money toward building out its channel, the company’s primary route to market.

Perimeter 81

CEO: Amit Bareket

SASE specialist Perimeter 81 has spent most of its three years focused on cloud-based networking and security, but the company recently entered the SASE arena. The company’s offerings can replace legacy and open-source VPN offerings and its portfolio is moving rapidly toward offering a complete SASE service this year, according to Perimeter 81.

The Israel-based company brought on Bob Kilbride as its first channel chief to boost business done through the channel from less than 10 percent today to eventually becoming a channel-first company, the company told CRN in February. In March, Perimeter 81 launched a channel partner program for MSPs.

The company today has more than 1,300 customers and is working with more than 100 partners.


CEO: Ramesh Prabagaran

Enterprise infrastructure disruptor Prosimo, founded in 2019, emerged from stealth mode this year with its Application eXperience Infrastructure (AXI) platform that’s modernizing and simplifying application delivery and experience across multi-cloud environments. The Prosimo platform can coexist existing vendors in a customer’s environment or can be used to replace certain tools and features, such as zero-trust or cloud peering.

The startup, which is focused on collapsing multi-cloud networking, security, and application performance, has been in trials with customers and the company plans on doing all of its business through the channel.

Prosimo is backed by $25 million in Series A funding.


CEO: Anthony Minessale II

SignalWire is an upstart specializing in virtual office and videoconferencing technology. The four-year-old company was launched by a group of engineers who built FreeSWITCH, an open-source application server for real-time communication, WebRTC, telecommunications, video and VoIP. Technologies such as Zoom videoconferencing and the Ring Doorbell product, for example, was built on top of FreeSWITCH, according to SignalWire. After helping other companies build apps, the firm decided to build their own product — SignalWire Work — which was launched in July 2020.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based SignalWire last summer brought on Ezra Hookano as the company’s vice president of global channels and business development. Hookano said that once the channel is up and running, the company “absolutely” won’t be selling direct.

Stateless Inc.

CEO: Murad Kablan

Networking startup Stateless Inc. 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-a-service.

The five-year-old company, which is venture-backed, announced a partnership with PacketFabric, a provider of on-demand connectivity for hybrid and multi-cloud IT, in April. Stateless recently introduced Cloud Connect-as-a-Service offering, which can help enterprises connect to multiple hybrid clouds with not physical devices, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based company.

Uplevel Systems

CEO: Tom Alexander

Six-year-old Uplevel Systems offers a simplified approach to managed IT services for small businesses that is exclusively designed to be offered up through MSP partners. The company’s solution today includes security functions such as firewall, IPS, secure DNS, VPN, and built-in SD-WAN, among other offerings.

The networking upstart last summer 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.