Fast Food

Fast Food

Grocery delivery apps have been offering service to the housebound and hermitic for years, with Instacart leading the way. But competition has become fierce. Favor launched in Austin, TX, and has since expanded nationally and internationally, most recently in Canada. San Francisco’s DoorDash raised $40 million in March. There has been consolidation, too. While Madison, WI-based EatStreet may be primed for an exit, it hasn’t happened yet. (Photo credit: DoorDash.)

Happy Hour

Happy Hour

Food isn’t the only target of this new brand of delivery service. After all that hard work of getting your groceries delivered, you probably need a drink, right? Don’t get up. Drizly, a Boston startup, raised $13 million to bring you all the booze you may need. Bright Cellars, a subscription wine service that started in Boston and moved to Milwaukee, raised $1.8 million in August. (Image credit: Drizly.)

Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

The 2014 IPOs of Lending Club and OnDeck caused a flood of new online lending entrants in the financial tech sector. Companies that mostly process loans with algorithms---and sometimes use crowd-sourcing to fund them---have raised capital, including Fundbox ($40 million), Prosper Marketplace ($165 million), Dealstruck ($58 million), DriverUp ($50 million), and Able ($6 million). Other online lenders have found success in the arena by creating a niche for themselves, such as Palo Alto-based Upstart, which provides credit to 20-somethings who have been rejected by traditional banks. New York-based Biz2Credit offers financing to young businesses that have trouble finding it. San Diego-based LoanHero found a specialty in consumers who need financing for big-ticket items such as furniture or home improvements.(Photo credit: LendingClub.)

Secret Sauce

Secret Sauce

Times may be getting tougher for adtech firms, with VC funding drying up. That didn’t stop companies from raising money this year: Denver-based Choozle offers software to small- and medium-sized businesses, while Boston-based Clypd wants to make TV advertising more like digital. Fellow Bostonian company Nanigans raised $24 million for its digital advertising automation software for social and mobile ads. (Photo credit: Choozle.)

In The Mail

In The Mail

Almost anything can be delivered to your doorstep, and on a monthly basis: beauty products from Birchbox, razors from Dollar Shave Club, unmentionables from MeUndies, and much more. Did Netflix start the home subscription service? No. Wine and cheesecake were there long before it. But it brought about a tech revolution in delivery. (Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons user Shardayyy (251/365 - 09/07/11 - Netflix). Used under creative commons 2.0 and 4.0 licenses. Photo may have been cropped to fit Xconomy publishing system standards. https://flic.kr/p/akkE1o https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Self-Reporting

Self-Reporting

Wearable devices, such as the Healbe Gobe wristband monitors that monitor calorie consumption and stress levels, are immensely popular among people seeking to gather data to better understand their bodies. Other related companies include Jawbone, Misfit, Fitbit, and Apple. (Photo credit: João-Pierre S. Ruth.)

Print Me Up, Scotty

Print Me Up, Scotty

Carbon3D made a big splash in the 3D printing market with a $100 million investment from folks like Google. But it is by no means alone, with everyone from Shapeways to Stratasys to Staples being active. Others, such as Formlabs and Autodesk, have printing capabilities similar to Carbon3D. (Photo credit: Carbon3D.)

Drones 'R' Us

Drones 'R' Us

From Amazon to Facebook to Google, there's huge interest and investment in drones. Drone startups like Airware, 3D Robotics, and CyPhy Works (pictured) are leading the way with new approaches to the software and hardware of unmanned aerial systems. The killer app? We probably haven't seen it yet. (Image: CyPhy Works)

Security Sages

Security Sages

Rapid7's IPO in July was a big one for the cybersecurity sector. Look for more exits and consolidation, even as new startups sprout up every month. Some companies to watch: Okta, Tanium, Bit9, and Veracode. (Image: Nasdaq2015)

There’s a point at which a technology market or sector feels overhyped and saturated. Sometimes it’s when the first $1 billion valuation is announced—or when venture capital starts flowing so freely that it seems due diligence is an afterthought. And it’s definitely when media start calling tech businesses “Uber for (fill in the blank).”

In some sectors, this comes with a feeling of lost authenticity, like watching a band you discovered 10 years ago in a small music hall now play a megaconcert in front of 50,000.

Whatever the case may be, there are several industry sectors in 2015 that have felt heavily hyped as new startups pile into the rat race and investors follow. They’re not all frivolous fields—see fintech and cybersecurity—but each is full of similar-sounding approaches and me-too players. The question that leaves us with: How does that change the likelihood of success?

Hard to say, but rising above the noise is getting more difficult. Across the Xconomy network, we’ve identified nine technology areas that are particularly noisy. It’s not a comprehensive list, but one supported by our coverage of specific companies. (You could argue for adding virtual reality, Internet of Things, and edtech, for example, but the startup approaches in those areas are generally earlier and more varied than those in our list.)

Check out the slides above to learn more details about each of the sectors. Here’s a quick list of all those mentioned:

1. Food delivery
—The delivery sector is perhaps the busiest, with traditional services including San Francisco-based Instacart, Austin, TX-based Favor, San Francisco’s DoorDash all raising money this year.
EatStreet, the Madison, WI-based delivery app, is also primed for an exit.

2. Drink delivery
—OK, it was inevitable. Booze-related services, including Drizly and Bright Cellars, are drawing attention from investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers.
—Other efforts in the sector include Saucey, Thirstie, Ultra, and Klink.

3. Fintech and lending
—Small business lending services Lending Club and OnDeck both had initial public offerings last year, raising the profile of the sector.
—There’s a great variety of other online lenders, including Fundbox, Prosper Marketplace, Dealstruck, DriverUp, and Able.
—And don’t forget specialty financiers such as Palo Alto, CA-based Upstart, New York-based Biz2Credit, and San Diego-based LoanHero.

4. Adtech
—Advertising technology is still getting plenty of funding, but reports are surfacing that VCs may be starting to shy away.
—Nonetheless, Denver-based Choozle and Boston-area startups Clypd and Nanigans, all raised money this year—just to name a few.
—Some other notables in the field are AdRoll, AppNexus, Brand Networks, DataXu, and Jelli.

5. Subscription services
—Startups that offer subscription deliveries of curated goods, such as Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and MeUndies, have gone mainstream in the past year or so. The goods, usually delivered monthly, range from food to clothing to cosmetics.
—Other notable companies in the sector: Julep, NatureBox, Graze.

6. Wearables and health tracking
—Fitbit is a big name this year, with its IPO in June. And, of course, Apple introduced its smartwatch. Wearables startups face lots of challenges, but tech companies including Healbe Gobe and MC10 are changing the way people think about health tracking.
—Other companies in the sector include Jawbone, Misfit, Garmin, Neumitra, Quanttus, Whoop, and Runkeeper.

7. 3D Printing
—With thriving companies from Carbon3D, Formlabs, and Autodesk to Shapeways and Staples, it seems everyone is getting into 3D printing, from consumers to designers to manufacturers.
—Other players: Voxel8, MarkForged, 3D Systems, Stratasys.

8. Drones
—Need we say more? From Airware to CyPhy Works to 3D Robotics, unmanned aerial systems are capturing the hearts and dollars of consumers, enterprises, and investors. The big applications seem to be surveillance, selfies (video), and package delivery.
—Other players in the broader sector include defense contractors, DJI, Matternet, DartDrones, HUVR, LaserMotive, and Smartvid.io. And, oh yeah, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

9. Cybersecurity
—This might be the most prevalent word of the year among enterprise companies. Now every security startup from Silicon Valley to Boston seems to have the magic approach to detecting and responding to attacks. Few are proven.
—The rise of smartphones and the coming wave of connected cars, Internet of Things, and electronic health records should make this a frothy field for years to come.
Rapid7 went public in July, while numerous other security companies are mulling possible exits. Area 1 Security, CrowdStrike, Keybase, Okta, and Tanium have raised recent rounds.
—Other players: Bit9, Veracode, CounterTack, Cybereason, Resilient Systems, Sqrrl, Threat Stack, and bigger-company efforts like Symantec, IBM Security, Palo Alto Networks, and FireEye.

Gregory T. Huang contributed to this report.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com