Rosie Mattio knows what sells. She was living in Seattle doing publicity for a cannabis cookbook in 2013, just after Washington became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. She founded Mattio Communications to specialize in PR for pot companies, and since then, 35 other states have legalized marijuana use in some form. Business boomed. But running the company alone--with four daughters at home--became overwhelming. Her next step, in which she relocated to New York City, proved pivotal--and set her shop on the path to becoming the fifth-fastest-growing private company in the Northeast. --As told to Anna Meyer

Two-year growth rate
New York City
Rosie Mattio, co-founder and CEO
Northeast ranking: No.5

I hit a breaking point in 2018 after moving to New York City. Despite having nine ­clients at the time, the paycheck I wrote to the intern I had just hired, Rebecca, bounced. I had given her a check from an old bank ­account. My disorganization was embarrassing and didn't end there. My paperwork was such a mess; I didn't even know if I had the right records to send for taxes. I was lost.

Then I met with Rebecca's father, Mitch Rothschild. He had been a serial entrepreneur for more than 30 years. When he found out what was going on, he offered to run operations at my company in exchange for 20 percent equity.

I was possessive; my business felt like a fifth kid to me. Why would I give up control to someone I barely knew? But I was in no place to decline, and Mitch was a capable business operator: He'd sold two companies and taken another one public. We talked and I realized this wasn't some guy trying to take over. Rather, he simply disliked seeing good ideas fail. I brought him on as a partner in the fall of 2018.

Right away, he connected me with recruiters to hire a staff, so I could focus on big-picture tasks. He then created a layer of management under me, so I didn't have so many direct reports--at one point I had 14--demanding my attention. Mitch also helped find investors and navigate financing.

Within a year, our client roster grew to 30--we now have 65 clients--and he secured three office spaces. When we grew year-over-year at a pace I once never thought was possible, he helped me rethink financial strategies and operational structure.

I'm the first one to tell my employees that I've never done this before. I'm building this company day by day and learning on the fly. With Mitch's help, I've realized that knowing what sells is important, but it's not everything. Running a successful company requires attention to details like establishing a line of credit before you need it and paying your bills on time. Without that, there's no way I could have grown my company's revenue nearly 3,000 percent in just two years.

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