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.
"Over the last two years, Just Salad has gone through an amazing transformation. In 2006, we had two units in Manhattan generating over $3 million. Over the next year we expect revenue to reach over $10 million, as Just Salad now has five locations in New York City and two locations in Hong Kong.
"As unit economics have improved over the past two years, so has the brand. Last year, Just Salad launched its new website, JustSalad.com, which supplies customers with a nutritional calculator, allowing them to build and analyze the nutritional breakdown of all different types of salad combinations. The website also features a custom online ordering platform, as well as Just Salad's popular new loyalty card program that enables customers to receive 5 to 10 percent discounts every time they use their VIP card.
"In addition to its website, Just Salad continues to be a leader and innovator among quick-serve restaurants by finding new ways to be environmentally conscious. We now offer reusable bags to accompany the reusable salad bowls, and we offer customers two free toppings each time they bring back and reuse their bowls. Just Salad will also introduce biodegradable plastic bags and hopes to eliminate the use of all virgin plastic items in stores by the third quarter of 2010.
"Just Salad's chef and registered dietician, Laura Pensiero, recently published a book for Harper Collins called Hudson Valley Mediterranean. Chef Laura has been active over the past two years evolving the Just Salad menu by adding and all-natural chicken to all U.S. locations, as well as turkey bacon, sesame grilled tofu, reduced-fat cheeses and many other unique quality items.
"Just Salad continues to stay aggressive with expansion, in hopes of providing more people with healthy, quick, great tasting food."
No. 25 and No. 26 (2006)
"In this economy, it is important to become specialized. Samanta now creates a life-changing experience for women who have trouble finding stylish shoes with comfort in their size. In addition to traditional sizes, Samanta offers large-size women's shoes in sizes 11, 12, 13, 14, and wide-width sizes. The collection is handcrafted in Brazil and retails at $125-$195 for shoes, and $250-$350 for boots. Becoming specialized helped us close deals with billion-dollar retailers like Amazon and Zappos.
"Samanta shoes can now be spotted on trendsetters like Tyra Banks, Debra Messing, Wendy Williams, Sanaa Lathan, Geena Davis, Sophia Bush, Queen Latifah, Rachel Bilson, and Rihanna. The company has also enjoyed a favorable response from the media, registering on the radars of the Oprah Magazine, the Today show, People, Marie Claire, Health, Lucky, InStyle, Essence, Latina, Black Enterprise, WSA Today, Footwear News, and Footwear Plus."
No. 22 (2006)
"352 Media Group is still going strong! We made the Inc. 5000 list for the third straight year this year! We continue to specialize in custom Web design and development. We design websites for a vast array of clients, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. This year has been a little more rocky than normal due to the economy -- several of our larger clients drastically cut their interactive media budgets, which meant less work for us. But we also had some great new Web start-up ventures come along and ask us to develop sites for them which helped to fill the void.
"One notable Web start-up that we developed this year is CampPete.com -- USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll's Online Football World for Kids. It's an online 'virtual world' for kids with football videos, games, and healthy lessons inside. Picture a place where footballs fly through air in the 'Special Teams Jungle' and spaceships blast off to the 'Penalty Planet.' It's a lot of fun and free to play for kids of all ages. So, overall, things are going great! As the economy picks back up, we hope to get back into growth mode and we hope to make the Inc. 5000 list again and again!"
No. 17 (2006)
"Since being featured in on the 30 under 30 list, Digium has grown quite a bit. We've become connected to some of the larger telecom companies, announcing major partnerships and products such as our recent 'Skype for Asterisk' software.
"We're seeing growing excitement in Asterisk, Digium's open-source telephony software, as open source has become mainstream. Asterisk was downloaded 1.5 million times in 2008 -- more than any other year in the company's history and an impressive 50 percent higher than in 2007. Despite the recession, we saw growth from Q1 to Q2 and anticipate continued growth in Q3, and our employee count is up from 50 to 134.
"In 2007, Digium welcomed Danny Windham, former president, chief operating officer and director of ADTRAN, as our new CEO. Having Danny on board has allowed me to focus on technology and some of my other interests in my new role as chief technology officer. At first, I had some concerns that I might miss being CEO, but I haven't even looked back.
"Much like Mark Smith, ADTRAN's co-founder, was my mentor, young entrepreneurs are now asking my opinion about their businesses as my own success has grown. To be on the other side is incredibly rewarding. I'm seeing more people my age and younger succeeding. It's great to see more entrepreneurship out there."
No. 23 and No. 24 (2006)
Kowitt: "Scott and I sold Collegeboxes to Store-to-Door, a national mobile self-storage company in 2008. I stayed on for six months and Scott stayed on for a year. Since then, Scott has moved with his wife to California and is the president of Infocore. Infocore specializes in targeted marketing and direct mailing. I moved to Philadelphia and am pursuing my MBA at Wharton."
Neuberger: "Between 2006 and 2008, Collegeboxes continued to grow. In 2008, we served over 8,000 customers at 60 universities around the country. Though we don't disclose the financial details of the sale, it was more than $1 million. I was recruited to be the president of Infocore in January 2009 and my mission here is to grow the company by identifying new technologies and ideas that add value to our clients' marketing campaigns."