The 2010 Inc. 5000: The Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs
Jamie Arundell Latshaw, CEO and PresidentMaria Vogt, CEO and PresidentMarie Diaz, CEOEileen Gittins, CEO and PresidentMindy T. Withrow, CEO and PresidentJennifer Scully, CEO and PresidentJessica Herrin, CEOMary Beth Romani, CEOLeah Brown, CEO and PresidentDina Alhadeff, Amy Grealish, and Lori Liddle
El Cajon, California
2009 Revenue: $14.4 million
Three-Year Growth: 14,017.7%
Latshaw (left) spent eight years in active duty with the U.S. Army. Toward the end of her command as officer, Latshaw noticed that the military was training soldiers in a new way, setting up mock Afghani and Iraqi villages around the U.S. so soldiers could experience cultural immersion before they deployed. Based on her observations, Latshaw founded Lexicon Consulting, which hires Afghani and Iraqi natives living in the U.S. to be "role players" in the mock villages. She attributes Lexicon's growth to the role players' passion. "They're really responsible for our success, because they want the soldiers to be successful."
2009 Revenue: $20.7 million
Three-Year Growth: 7,443.8%
Vogt (left) learned what it takes to win government contracts from her father's IT company. Though IT wasn't Vogts calling, she applied the skills she learned from her father to her own construction contracting business, which she founded in 2002. In 2006, however, she teamed up Sonya Yungeberg, who is now co-owner of Ayuda Management. Vogt says the company has grown dramatically since the two women began collaborating. "She's made the difference in our company," Vogt says.
Pursuit of Excellence
2009 Revenue: $10.7 million
Three-Year Growth: 7,054.4%
Diaz's father died when she was three years old, so she learned a lot about being a strong female from her single mother. After spending years at a Fortune 500 company, Diaz started her own business, a human resources services company, so she, too, could have a strong presence in her sons' lives. "I was traveling most of the month and never seeing my children," she says. "You have to keep in mind what your priorities are. Plan your life before your life plans you." At Pursuit of Excellence, Diaz still works around the clock, being a business owner affords her flexibility she never had before.
2009 Revenue: $45 million
Three-Year Growth: 4,829.6%
After selling her second business, a context search engine called Verb, Gittins turned back to her first love: photography. She specializes in portraiture and wanted some way to thank the people she shot. "I thought, 'I'll make a book, how hard can that be?'" She found the process to be both time-consuming and expensive, so she came up with a solution. Blurb allows people to make, print, promote and sell their books, and the rise of social media has helped boost revenue significantly, because, Gittins says, "People who are not 'authors' now have audiences."
CSS Distribution Group
2009 Revenue: $13.8 million
Three-Year Growth: 3,970.6%
In a husband and wife operation, deciding who gets to run what part of the business is no easy task, but for Withrow and her husband Dan it was "a no-brainer." They had both worked in the packaging industry for years, but since Mindy had more experience in distribution and Dan was the manufacturing expert, she naturally fell into the position of CEO at CSS, while he became COO. Now, it's important to the Withrows to work with other women-owned businesses. "We look for other companies that have similar stories," Mindy says. "One of our largest tape suppliers is women-owned."
2009 Revenue: $4.4 million
Three-Year Growth: 3,692.2%
Scully started her career as an intensive care and critical care unit nurse, before being recruited by a large corporation that operated nursing homes nationwide. There, she was the executive vice president of clinical services. With her knowledge of both the bedside and administrative sides of nursing, she launched Clinical Resources a staffing company that places qualified nurses in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. According to Scully, being a nurse herself is beneficial to the business, "It's just as important to have administrative level nurses who understand the health care field from within."
Stella & Dot
2009 Revenue: $32.8 million
Three-Year Growth: 3,458.1%
If her first business, WeddingChannel.com, was about helping women start their families, Herrin's next venture, Stella & Dot, has been about helping women balance work and growing families. "I was trying to create a business that would give women entrepreneurs opportunities," she says. The result was Stella & Dot, an accessories company launched in 2004 that allows stylists around the country to directly-sell merchandise to customers through in-home trunk shows. It provides these stylists the freedom to work part time and the power to make their own income.
Integrity Management Consulting
2009 Revenue: $5.3 million
Three-Year Growth: 2,905.8%
Navigating the world of government contracting is no easy task. When Romani (center) and her husband founded Integrity Management Consulting, they both had experience working with other government contractors, but found that to build their reputation as business owners, they had to start off as sub-contractors. The relationships they formed over the next two years helped them land their first prime contract in 2009, which, Romani says, is key reason for that year's revenue growth.
A10 Clinical Solutions
Cary, North Carolina
2009 Revenue: $8.3 million
Three-Year Growth: 2,714.3%
"I started A10 as a grieving process," Brown (left) says, recalling the death of her uncle to AIDS. Determined to take part in finding a cure to deadly diseases, Brown founded " target="_blank">A10, which performs clinical trials for drug manufacturers, in 2004. Now, Brown also takes an active role in promoting women in business, as a mentor for the Count Me In program, which aims to bring a million women-owned businesses over the $1 million revenue mark.
2009 Revenue: $28.4 million
Three-Year Growth: 2,249%
To explain the success of mail-order retailer Chasing Fireflies, co-founder Lori Liddle explains, "We bring a boutique to everyone." In fact, she says, the company, which sells clothing, home items, toys, costumes, and novelties for children and babies, considers its main competitors to be small mom and pop stores, as opposed to large toy corporations. Liddle founded the company with friends and co-workers, Amy Grealish and Dina Alhadef. "We focus very much on traditions," Liddle says of what distinguishes the company from the rest. "It’s all about celebrating those special moments for the kids and for the parents as they watch their kids go through those things."