Though it doesn't guarantee success, audacity has long been a key ingredient behind the most inspiring entrepreneurial ventures. It is certainly represented in the individuals below. As we searched for our list of 25 companies that could change the world, we asked a panel of experts to define what audacious means to them, in their particular area of expertise. Here's what they said:


Design: Bre Pettis

Co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, a leading manufacturer of 3D printers
"Innovation and the absurd are a paper-thin distance apart. One of the ways toward innovation is to explore the absurd. When you do that, you get innovation. Being playful, exploratory, trying things out, no matter what you do, you learn from it. Simplicity is one way to be audacious. I've spent more money making our software simple than making it powerful. The biggest challenge is to make something accessible, friendly, and simple. If you do it right, nobody knows you did it."


Marketing: Anthony Sperduti

Co-founder of Partners & Spade, a creative studio whose clients include J. Crew and Target
"Audacious marketing is not the lowest-common-denominator marketing. It's marketing that's all right with not everyone liking it and some people even hating it. It's all right with having a particular point of view. A lot of companies aren't comfortable with doing that. Audacious marketing is when a brand decides to take a chance, not talk to everyone, and have a contrarian point of view. When you do that well, you have big benefits. You wake people up and command attention."


Tech: Cheryl Cheng

Partner at BlueRun Ventures, a VC firm that has invested in tech companies, including PayPal and Waze
"One of the markers of an audacious company is definitely whether it's going to disrupt a category that's either highly entrenched or hasn't seen innovation for a long time. There are incumbents who own the market, and they're going to lobby and resist change at every point. The key to audacity is that it has to be timed perfectly. You can say, 'I'm going to send people to space and vacation on Mars,' but if it's outside the realm of possibility, it's not really audacious."


Social impact: Bert Jacobs

CEO of Life Is Good, a clothing company that has raised millions of dollars for children's charities
"Audacity is when there are 999 other people who are looking to reduce their negative impact, but then there's one out of 1,000 who actually wants to solve the issue completely. Those people catch you off guard and turn a system, culture, category, or industry on its head. They say, 'What if?' You have one wild and precious life. The people who are part of real change, not just something that chipped away at a problem, deserve credit."


Culture: Jason Fried

CEO of Basecamp, a Chicago-based software company with a flat organizational structure
"People who are audacious are willing to be misunderstood. They're ahead of the way others are thinking about things, and it's hard to make a decision when the rest of the world says it doesn't make any sense. But it can't just be one person who's willing to do that. Those ideas and the willingness to be misunderstood need to extend throughout the organization. Audacity has to be pervasive."

From the May 2014 issue of Inc. magazine