One thing all these Inc. 500 CEOs agree on: faster growth. But each has a different resolution on how to grow at break-neck speeds in 2012. From investing in employees to expanding product lines, here's what you can glean from these Inc. 500 honorees.
In 2011, Thrillist expanded its e-newsletter for men to Minneapolis and Detroit and launched a daily deals platform, Thrillist Rewards. JackThreads, the private sales site it acquired in 2010, grew to 1.5 million members. The company’s gradual shift into retail is a harbinger of things to come in 2012, says CEO Ben Lerer: "We’re definitely going to continue our investment in the intersection of content and commerce."
Phenomenon, a Los Angeles company that develops marketing and entertainment concepts, nearly doubled its revenue this year on the strength of four new clients. For 2012, CEO Krishnan Menon plans to create a new business division for industrial design and to open offices in San Francisco and London. Menon, an avid collector of Archie comics , also hopes to track down a copy of Pep Comics #22, the first edition to feature Archie.
Marketing software company HubSpot, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has raised $32 million from the likes of Sequoia, Google, and Salesforce.com and acquired two companies. Those moves point to one clear goal in 2012, says CEO Brian Halligan: "Delight our customers." Indeed, Halligan has consistently pointed to serving customers better, by providing tools for social media and medium-sized businesses, as the motivation behind HubSpot’s recent acquisitions.
After once having to pull its dried-fruit snacks out of grocery stores, Peeled Snacks returned to supermarkets this year. The Brooklyn-based company also boosted its sustainability cred by earning B Corp certification. In January, says CEO Noha Waibsnaider, Peeled Snacks will kick off its Real Energy Challenge, designed to promote habits for well-balanced living.
Despite recently expanding his company’s product line, Randy Hetrick, CEO and founder of fitness company TRX, is focused on just one goal for 2012: "Get back to scrappy, perfect our basic blocks and tackles, and do fewer things, better." To that end, the San Francisco-based company has recently reorganized the company into business units based on its key market segments.
In 2012, oDesk, which runs an online marketplace for freelance work, aims to grab the lion’s share of its market. CEO Gary Swart projects that by March, the company, based in Redwood City, California, will have facilitated more than $500 million worth of contracts. That strong activity, he hopes, will fuel oDesk’s sixth year of 100 percent revenue growth.
Organic pet food maker Stella & Chewy’s hopes to gain much greater market visibility next year. To that end, the Muskego, Wisconsin-based company has welcomed a new CEO and chief financial officer, quadrupled its manufacturing capacity by moving to a larger facility, and launched a new cat-food line. Now, founder Marie Moody plans to reach new customers through product sampling and other grassroots marketing strategies—one inspired by Dumb and Dumber.
In 2011, Shazi Visram expanded her New York City-based organic-food company’s focus beyond babies to children of all ages. To build upon that progress, HappyFamily (formerly HappyBaby) plans to add even more products next year, such as organic snack packs for preschoolers. In addition, Visram aims to expand into more geographic areas. But pacing HappyFamily’s growth is equally important to her: "I want to make sure the break-neck growth doesn’t really break my neck!"
Last year, animal health insurance company Petplan, based in Philadelphia, teamed up with Capital BlueCross to offer pet insurance to plan holders. Husband-and-wife team Chris and Natasha Ashton hope to accomplish the same with other insurance providers in 2012. They also plan to begin selling pet insurance plans in Canada. But those are just small steps, they say, towards their ultimate long-term goal: cracking $1 billion in revenue.
For Air Force veteran Jan Adams, hiring service-disabled veterans is a priority. In fact, many of her 2012 goals for JMA Solutions, her Washington, D.C.-based government-contracting firm, center upon employees: she plans to bolster recruitment efforts and invest in morale boosters for current staff. Beyond that, Adams aims to diversify business beyond the company’s primary client, the Federal Aviation Administration and step up the company’s charity efforts.