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Six of the coolest startups of 2012

Tech genius Steve Jobs once said: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

To be sure, it does take perseverance to launch a startup. And if you follow Jobs’ reasoning, it takes even more perseverance to achieve success with a startup.

Executives at six US startups are striving for success with some fascinating ideas – from the “Groupon for groceries” to an online “elite” university. These six fledgling businesses are some of the coolest startups that have made waves this year.

Aisle50 Inc.

What it does: The company’s goal is to “bring to the people exceedingly excellent grocery deals from the best brands in the world. No fuss, no muss. Just deals, baby!” It’s informally known as the “Groupon for groceries.”

Website: aisle50.com

Headquarters: Chicago

Co-founders: Riley Scott and Christopher Steiner

Most recent funding: $2.6 million in January 2012

What they’re saying: “We’ve written about plenty of Groupon clones and ‘Groupon for X’ ideas before now,” TechCrunch wrote in January 2012. “And while many of them have fallen by the wayside, Aisle50 has a few tricks up its sleeve that help differentiate it from the myriad clones. And, more importantly: it’s getting traction with some key brands and chains in the industry, and its early stats look solid.”

GoodRx Inc.

What it does: On the web and through an iPhone app, GoodRx lets consumers shop for affordable medication. GoodRx lists more than 1 million prices for more than 6,000 brand-name and generic drugs at every major US pharmacy chain and many local stores.

Website: goodrx.com

Headquarters: Santa Monica, Calif.

Co-founders: Doug Hirsch and Scott Marlette

Most recent funding: More than $1 million in February 2012

What they’re saying: “When it comes to prescription drugs, many are covered by health insurance policies, but there’s a chance that GoodRx can still save searchers money by finding prices below their co-pays, surfacing bargains in the same way Kayak does for airline tickets,” TechCrunch wrote in February 2012. “GoodRx could represent big savings for the millions of Americans who let their prescriptions go unfilled because they can’t spare the extra cash.”

The Minerva Project

What it does: The Minerva Project, set to enroll its first students in 2014, bills itself as “the first elite American university launched in a century.” It’s essentially an online version of an Ivy League school.

Website: minervaproject.com

Headquarters: San Francisco

Founder: Ben Nelson

Most recent funding: $25 million in April 2012

What they’re saying: “The … company is out to reinvent American higher education with an intensely strong focus on academics and intelligence,” VentureBeat reported in April 2012. “The admissions process doesn’t consider your lineage, your citizenship, your ability to throw a football, or how much money your family can donate, and hopes to weed out the students whose athletic abilities or monetary status would otherwise help them get into college.”

Pathbrite

What it does: Think of Pathbrite as LinkedIn on steroids. Pathbrite says its online portfolios “enable individuals to go beyond static resumes to vividly chronicle and showcase a lifetime of achievement in order to secure important goals like getting into a preferred school or landing a first job.”

Website: pathbrite.com

Headquarters: San Francisco

Founder: Heather Hiles

Most recent funding: $2.5 million in June 2012

What they’re saying: “Outside the classroom and, increasingly, within it, students use all kinds of media platforms to express themselves and learn,” GigaOM reported in June 2012. “But when it comes to showing off their achievements, it’s usually still just about test scores and text. … Pathbrite, however, aims to change that with a digital portfolio platform that lets students and professionals collect, track and share a range of content showcasing their accomplishments — from videos and photos to transcripts and recommendations.”

PetHub Inc.

What it does: PetHub’s web-based service aims to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Website: pethub.com

Headquarters: Issaquah, Wash.

Founder: Tom Arnold

Most recent funding: $1.3 million in June 2012

What they’re saying: “The company uses a combination of online pet profiles and scannable ID tags that allow anyone with a mobile phone to quickly access everything there is to know about the pet, including the owners’ contact information, the pet’s allergies and medications, dietary needs, immunizations, vet insurance details and more,” TechCrunch reported in June 2012.

Silvercar

What it does: The company hopes to “reinvent” the car rental experience at the airport. How? For one thing, it will rent just one make and model: a silver-colored 2013 Audi A4. For another, Silvercar customers – primarily business travelers – won’t stand in line at airport check-in counters; instead, customers with reservations made through a travel agency, the Silvercar app or the Silvercar website will head directly to one of the available Audis. Silvercar’s first locations haven’t been announced yet.

Website: silvercar.com

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

Co-founders: Todd Belveal and Bill Diffenderffer

Most recent funding: $11.5 million in October 2012

What they’re saying: “It’s … designed to be cheaper than your run-of-the-mill rental company like Hertz or Avis,” VentureBeat reported in October 2012.

This article is part of the Drive Your Business Forward series. Check out allvoices.com/smallbusiness for more tips and advice on how to succeed as a small business. This series is supported by Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.