Where Are They Now?
Despite the economic gloom and doom, the honorees on this year's 30 Under 30 list are building wildly successful ventures with the help of their peers, parents, professors, and patrons. Why enlisting these loyal tribes of support has become so important in the start-up world -- and how the smartest companies foster that same loyalty among their customers.
No. 5 (2008)
"In October 2008, we launched support for investments and loans on Mint. After this point, you could see your complete net worth: all your assets, from 401(k)s to automobiles, plus all your debts, from credit cards to second mortgages to student loans. As a result, Mint opened up to an older demographic with more sophisticated finances, along with better serving our core 20-40 demographic. Total users more than tripled since the financial crisis began, and now exceed 1.5 million. Revenues are up eightfold year-over-year. We've grown as a company to 33 people.
"In January, we launched an iPhone application, which quickly became No. 1 in the Finance category. In May, we launched a mini version of Mint on myYahoo! In August, we revamped budgeting so that people could see, very perceptually, how every day purchases would affect their longer-term savings. The result from this last feature alone has been a big increase in our customer satisfaction score (92 percent now satisfied or extremely satisfied with using Mint, up from about 75 percent at launch).
"All of this growth and our rapid pace of development attracted Intuit, who paid $170 million to acquire Mint. They saw us as both the team and the product that could bring personal finance to millions more people, for free, and in a way that saves them money."
No. 19 and No. 20 (2008)
"Our vision has always been to be a national business success, not a media success, but after being named in the Inc.com 30 Under 30, we've found it difficult to evade the spotlight. In the past year, we were named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalists, the company made it to No. 156 on the Inc. 500 list, and most recently, we appeared on the new ABC reality TV series, Shark Tank.
"But it's still all about business, not just show business. We started hauling junk in a beat-up cargo van four years ago and now have built the fastest-growing and largest U.S.-based junk-removal franchise opportunity. Our company has nearly doubled its size, and we now have a total of 24 junk removal franchises operating across the country. We never thought hauling trash out of a beat-up cargo van would lead us to prime-time television, but it's still all about realizing our vision of turning College Hunks Hauling Junk into a national household brand.
"As a result of the press, we've created Twitter (www.twitter.com/collegehunks) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/collegehunks) accounts to keep in touch with our brand ambassadors. This year, the focus of our company is "sustainable hauling practices," and we've implemented our new slogan, "Making Green Look Good," by forming a partnership with a national organization called iReuse, which allows us to monitor the percentage of items that are donated or recycled and diverted away from landfills.
"Our core values as a company are building leaders, always branding, delighting clients, creating a fun company culture, and serving the environment and community."
No. 6 and No. 7 (2008)
"Phreesia has grown considerably since Inc. last featured us. We've expanded our clinician network to all 50 states, and doubled our workforce. Almost 2 million patients have checked-in on Phreesia -- a number that continues to grow exponentially. Phreesia raised $11.6 million in Series C funding in February with a new investment from BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries, bringing our total investment to $25 million. We've also introduced several exciting new features to further save our practices time and money, and help them provide the best quality of care.
"Practices have responded especially well to our Automated Point-of-Care Eligibility and Benefits Verification, which helps them determine a patient's co-pay, coinsurance and deductible in real-time. This saves practice staff from having to spend time on the phone with payers and reduces insurance claim denials due to patient ineligibility.
"Soon practices will even be able to collect a patient's co-pay directly through the PhreesiaPad, via the card-swipe reader. Our plans for the future involve doing what we do best -- improving the way patients check-in at the clinician's office."
No. 4 (2006)
"When I look back on the last three years, I am amazed by the adversity we've faced, the changes that have taken place, and the goals we've accomplished -- it would make a great screenplay!
"In 2007, we changed our name from Perfume Bay to Beauty Encounter and gave our website a major facelift. This was a large investment that is continuing to pay off, even during these trying economic times. We've also added new members to our team in the customer service, IT, operations and marketing departments. Each new person brings tremendous talent and a shared passion for the beauty and e-commerce industry.
"Our marketing team has led us fearlessly into the social media world, which has been a fun adventure. The team is also working closely with the IT department to make further enhancements to our website functionality, look, and feel. We're also working hard to improve our customer service and deliver the best possible experience to each and every customer. We want to be known for our great product selection and customer service. If that's not enough, we recently moved into a new warehouse, adding some much needed space for our company to grow.
"Our sales are up to $18.8 million from $9 million in 2006 and as I look to 2010, I am excited for the future of Beauty Encounter. We want to become the ultimate beauty destination online, and with each day that passes I feel us getting closer to this goal."
No. 25 (2008)
"What a wild year! Thankfully, my company Gotham Dream Cars is still going strong, despite the Great Recession. This may come as a surprise, considering the market we're in -- renting luxury and exotic vehicles for people to play with -- but the fact is, things haven't been nearly as bad as they could (or should) have been. We won't be seeing any growth this year, but we'll still turn a profit and the lessons we've learned as a company have brought our team closer and made us a smarter, leaner, and more efficient business.
"We've seen a dramatic shift in our customer base. Many of the typical clients who used to rent (i.e. mortgage brokers, Wall Streeters, etc.) have vanished. But in their places, we've gained a whole new client base in a variety of industries relevant in 2009, such as debt collectors and discount retailers. We've learned an interesting lesson: There is always someone doing well, no matter what the economic conditions, and they still want to celebrate with a drive in a sports car.
"There's also been a shift toward customers who previously would have taken their $200,000 bonus check straight to the Ferrari dealership but now are bringing their $2,000 bonus check to us for a weekend spin. Less commitment, same adrenaline rush.
"We are taking advantage of some of the weaknesses in the market to make some expansion moves. We've picked up some new cars at nearly 50 percent of their original costs, and the slow real estate market has allowed us to move our headquarters to a newer, cleaner, and dramatically better facility for no additional cost. Those have been huge morale boosters.
"Personally, I've learned a ton about stress management (exercise, exercise, more exercise, and perhaps a glass of wine with dinner). So whatever I've lost in stomach ulcers, I've gained in a healthier heart. We're not out of the woods yet, but it's definitely looking brighter than last year. Here's to an even brighter 2010 for everyone."