Robert Moog is credited with inventing the Moog synthesizer, a sophisticated, versatile instrument that has revolutionized how music has been played and recorded in the last 50 years. When it debuted at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in 1964, he took orders on the spot. "Bob used to say that he got into business by slipping backwards on a banana peel," says Mike Adams, who joined the company in 2002 and now serves as the company's CEO. In 2005, at the age of 71, Robert Moog died from cancer. Now, with 45 employees and distribution in nearly 50 countries worldwide, Moog Music is on the rise. Last year, the company made over $7 million in revenue, and Adams anticipates growth of up to 40 percent for this year.
Denise Wilson is an anomaly in the flying community. She is one of the nearly 38,000 active female pilots in the United States, just six percent of all active pilots in the country. What makes her even more rare is that she's also the founder and president of an aviation company, Desert Jet, which she launched in 2007. The company acts as brokers for corporations who own their own planes, thereby affording those corporations the opportunity to offset their expenses by chartering out their planes when they are not in use. This arrangement allows Desert Jet to have full operation of the aircraft without the debt and liabilities associated with actual ownership. Today, the company has annual revenues of $2.1 million, representing 1,300 percent growth over the past three years.
Rick and Jeff Platt, a father and son entrepreneurial duo from Los Angeles, were really excited about the idea of creating a new professional sport that would use trampoline courts as its playing field. But after receiving $2.5 million in investments, building the court (called Sky Zone), and training athletes, the Platt's could not get the new sport to catch on. One thing that did catch on was the neighborhood kids begging to play on the trampolines. So in June of 2004, Sky Zone, the sport, morphed into Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. In 2010, the company reported $3 million in revenue, up from $500,000 in 2007, amounting to 500 percent growth over that period. Jeff projects total revenue for 2011 will reach nearly $12 million.
If you’ve taken your pet to the vet recently, you know how expensive your little pup’s pills can be. But what if there was a generic alternative? That’s where Putney comes in, a pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of high quality drugs for pets. Part businesswoman, part animal lover, Putney’s CEO Jean Hoffman founded Putney in 2006. One afternoon, while taking her adopted cat Dude to the vet, Hoffman had a couple of realizations. First, pet medications were prohibitively high for many people. And second, this created a niche market for a business that sold generic pet medications. The company, which launched its first product in 2007, has enjoyed a 58 percent compound annual growth rate over the last year, with $9.5 million in revenue in 2010.
Imagine if a pilot knew how to fly a plane before ever stepping into a cockpit, if a doctor knew how to perform a complicated surgery before ever cutting a patient, or if a soldier knew how to use his equipment before ever holding it in his hands. What might sound like science fiction is now a reality, thanks to Heartwood Studios. Heartwood's custom-designed 3D virtual training applications provides customers like Raytheon, Honeywell, and the U.S. Army with a modern alternative to a PowerPoint presentation or training manuals. After earning $2 million in revenue in 2010, the company expects 100 percent growth for the next two years. Last year, Military Training Technology magazine named Heartwood as one of the year's Top Simulation and Training Companies.
Kim Overton's "aha" moment led to a multi-million dollar business that makes small personal item (SPI) belts for working out and travel. Overton can be classified as a serial entrepreneur. In the mid-90s she co-founded a tech company with her friend. After that she helped The Lord Group advertising agency develop its interactive division. And most recently, she invented the SPIbelt in 2006. "I was out on a run and I had my key tucked into my bra top and I thought 'man, this is uncomfortable. I just need a simple belt.' After that run I went and bought the stuff to make the very first belt," Overton says. Soon she quit her job so she could devote all of her attention to her new company. Since its launch, SPIbelt has added 10 employees and revenue has grown from $150,000 in 2007 to $7 million in 2010.
After graduating from Columbia University, brothers Courtney and Carter Reum took jobs at Goldman Sachs. But in 2007, right before the financial crisis upended Wall Street, they'd had enough. The money was good—but they craved something more exciting. "I always wanted to be an entrepreneur," says Courtney. He adds, "It just kind of struck me that the main categories of spirits out there—vodka, gin, rum—have been around for centuries. There's been very little innovation in the true sense of the word." So the brothers quit their jobs to launch VeeV, a spirit containing the antioxidant-rich açaí berry. Since launching four years ago, VeeV will generate about $5 million in revenue in 2011 and employs about 35 people.