By Chloe is a red-hot, $30 million restaurant chain (with a side order of drama)
Chloe Coscarelli and Samantha Wasser (pictured above) are the creative forces behind By Chloe, a string of vegan fast-casual restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, and most recently Boston. While the business relationship between the pair has changed since the eatery's inception, the brand continues to grow. Coscarelli, a chef who made a name for herself after winning Food Network's reality series Cupcake Wars, tapped ESquared Hospitality in 2014 to help build her eatery. It was there she met Wasser, the creative director who had recently designed the Mexican restaurant Horchata de Nueva York. They teamed up to create a place that served plant-based, Instagram-ready food. After a nearly yearlong legal battle, an arbitrator recently ruled that Coscarelli could be removed from the business. However, that hasn't stopped the company from expanding to seven locations across the country and planning to open another four before the end of the year. What's more, the restaurants raked in $10 million in 2016 and By Chloe is expecting to fetch $30 million by the end of 2017. -Emily Canal
The little stock-trading app that wants to replace Wall Street firms
Without a second's hesitation, Vladimir Tenev will tell you the first time he invested in the stock market. He was just 12 but bullish on Palm, the maker of the PalmPilot, a hunch that earned him $1,000. That enthusiasm for mobile tech and the stock market led him to Robinhood, Tenev's startup, co-founded with Baiju Bhatt in 2013. Robinhood is a commission-free brokerage that lets you trade from a smartphone app. "If you're someone who's in your late teens or early 20s and you want to invest a hundred bucks to try it out for the first time, it [used to be] cost prohibitive," Tenev says. He's lured in enough young users to force older rivals like E-Trade and Charles Schwab to cut fees--the same way those firms forced Wall Street wirehouse firms such as Merrill Lynch to reprice trades. The company is focused on making money by providing premium features to its heavy-duty users through a $10 per month subscription service called Robinhood Gold. -Salvador Rodriguez
These founders' alien obsession helped launched their company--into outer space
At the center of the booming commercial universe known as New Space is an emerging generation of satellites that are much smaller than the floating dinosaurs they're designed to replace. Smaller satellites need even smaller propulsion systems, and Accion Systems makes very small ones indeed. "The key to our technology is a chip the size of a penny," says Louis Perna, co-founder and lead mechanical engineer. "We can help small satellites stay in space longer, get to where you want them to be, and maintain that location." These chips are also inexpensive and uncomplicated. They're deployable in arrays like so many postage stamps, suitable for smallsats (which are about the size of dorm fridges) and cubesats (more like whiskey-bottle boxes). You want bigger than that? No problem. The chips are scalable for satellites of any size. Powered by charged particles that accelerate to enormous speeds, the tech enables the satellites to carry out their missions once they've been launched into space. Yes, this is rocket science: Co-founders Perna and Natalya Bailey are both rocket scientists. They developed the technology while working on their PhDs at MIT. The name of the company, which had $4.5 million in sales last year, comes from Accio, the summoning charm Hermione Granger taught Harry Potter at Hogwarts. -David Whitford
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This camera maker lets anyone easily film in VR
Lots of companies have made consumer products for experiencing virtual reality. With Lucid VR, Han Jin has created a simple way to capture it. The company's $499 LucidCam, set to ship in June, is among the first virtual reality cameras geared toward the average consumer. It uses two eyes to take in the world, in much the way humans do, and then converts those images into three-dimensional photos or video that can be viewed through Google Cardboard or Lucid's $30 phone case. The smartphone-size LucidCam can be strapped to a filmer's chest to act like a GoPro. Its video and image files are small enough to be easily shared, and the system supports live streaming over Wi-Fi. Jin, who co-founded the company with Adam Rowell, uses LucidCam as a way to stay in touch with his family back in Germany and China. "Sharing experiences through normal pictures is great, but it doesn't really show them how I'm living life," Jin says. "This is the closest you'll get to feeling like you're right there with somebody." --Kevin J. Ryan