THERE'S RAPID GROWTH, and then there's the sort of rapid growth that can melt the enamel right off your damn teeth. Surely that's what it felt like for the founders in this edition of our annual list of America's fastest-growing private companies. For they have piloted their startups on an atmosphere-piercing ride the likes of which we've not seen before. Among the top 500, the median revenue growth rate over the past three years is 2,144 percent--up from 1,820 percent for the 2021 list.

A strength runs through America's small businesses that defies the forces twisting our economy into such weird knots. In some cases, you'll find Inc. 5000 founders honing their business models to battle these forces directly--like Nick Carter in Indiana, who built a supply chain solution that unites farmers and grocery shoppers (see  Market Wagon, No. 450). Or Cherie Kloss, a former reality show producer who took a big swing at the labor shortage with her nurses' hiring platform, SnapNurse. The result? Oh, about 146,000 percent revenue growth. Even more astonishing? That lands it at No. 2 this year.

The top slot goes to BlockFi, a crypto outfit that, at presstime, appeared likely to weather the crypto winter that has battered and bankrupted so many others--a testament to its adoption of rigorous practices more common in traditional finance firms. As for its growth? Well, let's just say you have to see those numbers to believe them.

Still, perhaps no one embodies the spirit of the class of 2022 like Vlad Kytainyk, a Ukrainian immigrant and CEO of No. 50, Kitrum. He made a plan to get his software team in Ukraine out of harm's way before Russia invaded, and executed it without losing staff or clients. Kytainyk, like Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed his troops with steely confidence. "If you can't do that," he says, "why are you running this business?" That's the Inc. 5000 brand of leadership--with teeth.

How the 2022 Inc. 5000 Companies Were Selected

Companies on the 2022 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2018 to 2021. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2018. They must be U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit, and independent--not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies--as of December 31, 2021. (Since then, some on the list may have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2018 is $100,000; the minimum for 2021 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Growth rates used to determine company rankings were calculated to four decimal places.