Inc. asked the nation's fastest growing, private-company CEOs to answer a series of wide-ranging questions about everything from innovation to social media to fundraising strategies. Here's how top execs come down on fundraising, as well as where they see the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs today.

Where are this year's Inc. 500 companies? All over the map.

The most populous states, not surprisingly, contributed the lion's share--and California's 99 companies bested the next two states combined--but the Mid-Atlantic punched far above its weight. Virginia notched 28, and D.C.--home to fewer than 700,000--claimed seven.

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The most innovative companies right now:

  • Tesla/SpaceX Amazon
  • Google
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Uber
  • Airbnb
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
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Q: Why should you turn down VC funding?


A: "If you don't need investors, it is a 
much better 
lifestyle to own your 
company yourself."
-- Erik Huberman,
 Hawke Media | No. 110

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A: "I did not want to become an employee/slave of the VC." -- Alex Goode, Gosite.com | No. 416

A: "We're extremely grateful that the company has remained bootstrapped so far. 
It's allowed me to stay focused on the product rather than fundraising, and the freedom 
of being able to make 
your own decisions 
is priceless." -- Kyle Taylor, The Penny Hoarder | No. 25

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A: "As a general statement, 
VCs are sociopaths. 
We may use VC at some point, but 
it will be relatively late compared 
with many." -- Michael Baker, Mosaic451 | No. 376

A: "Don't need it, and
 don't want someone else controlling my 
life or my business." -- Nicole Sahin,
 Globalization Partners | No. 33

A: "Venture funds usually swing for the fences-- they require returns that are not aligned with the growth 
rate of my company.
 If I took their funding, my chance of success would decrease significantly." -- Armir Harris, Shofur | No. 21

A: "Take capital only 
when necessary." -- Kevin Jones, Anovia Payments | No. 82

A: "The investors
 expected too much equity, and the return they were looking
 for was too high." -- Joshua Feinberg, 
Everlasting Capital | No. 323

Of our surveyed CEOs, 20 percent said that email surveys are the best means to collect client and customer feedback. That ran second to face-to-face feedback, which polled at 34 percent. Many companies can't live without social media, but trend lines shifted from 2016's survey: 24 percent cited Twitter last year when asked to name their top platforms; only 12 percent agreed this year. Meanwhile, Instagram's devotees shot up to 19 percent from last year's 12 percent. And 7 percent of this year's CEOs said their companies don't use social media at all.

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