Maker of sustainably sourced, cruelty-free, organic hair care products.
When Shelby Wild was working as a stylist in New York City, she was constantly spending money on hair care products that never fulfilled the promise of healthy looking hair. Wild was using as many as six products at a time to conceive a wavy hairdo. "The products that were effective were incredibly toxic, and the more natural variations didn’t really work," Wild says. That's when she realized there needed to be a simpler solution to achieving effortlessly healthy looking hair--so she made it herself. Her company, Playa, produces a product line that includes shampoos and conditioners that are toxins free. She adds that all Playa goods are made with organic herbal ingredients that are never tested on animals. Currently, Playa products are sold internationally in the United States, Germany, Canada, and Australia through the company's online website as well as through its dominant retailer, Sephora. Playa expects to book $6.5 million in revenue by the end of 2019. -- Malak Saleh
Pop! Wed Co.
Plans, officiates, and photographs tiny weddings.
Maggie Winters had been photographing weddings through her years at high school and in college, mostly on the weekends, and traditional ceremonies started to feel highly choreographed and cookie-cutter, she says. There were exceptions. The smallest weddings, which just a few family members and a couple of friends attended, felt spontaneous and light, and mercifully void of stress. With this in mind, in 2014, she hatched a plan to host tiny weddings in the Washington, D.C., area. She roped in her then-boyfriend, Stephen Gaudaen, to officiate, and they'd provide a small cake and a scrappy venue--say, an art gallery, brewery, or vintage shop--for $2,900 to $4,500. A year into building the business, Winters and Gaudaen married--at the site of their first Pop! Wed ceremony. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
A standardized-test-preparation service.
Shaan Patel had his heart set on attending a good college and eventually heading to medical school, but he didn't get the SAT score necessary for admission. He locked himself in a library the summer before his senior year of high school and taught himself how to ace the exam. Once he did, he knew he was on to something. While Patel still dreamed of becoming a dermatologist, he also now wanted to bring his test-preparation knowledge to others. Today, his 30-person company, which started from a single offline SAT-prep course in Las Vegas, hosts 10,000 off- and online students annually. They pay Prep Expert anywhere from $1,099 to $1,399 to prepare for standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, and GMAT. One of the defining moments for Prep Expert was when Patel appeared on Shark Tank in 2016. Mark Cuban agreed to give him $250,000 in exchange for 20 percent equity and gave the company a boost in publicity. Patel is a dermatologist and the author of 15 test-prep books. He even co-authored an entrepreneurship guide for children with Cuban. --Emily Canal
Ro is a patient-driven telehealth company. We're patients, just like you, building technology to make health care accessible, affordable, and maybe even enjoyable.
WHY WE'RE A BEST PLACE TO WORKRo believes in creating a transparent health care system. That's why, from day one, Ro has put "transparency" at the forefront of everything we do, even internally. At Ro's all-hands meetings, company leadership gives all employees an update on the company's product roadmap, financials, and business growth. We have an active "shout out" culture, celebrating people for their successes at the company as a way to highlight people and their accomplishments. Remote work is also a core part of Ro.
A maker of low-sugar, gummy candy.
Tara Bosch has struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with food her entire life, because like many people, she has one major weakness: candy. It wasn't until she landed a job at a supplements store and had an enlightening conversation about weight control with her 89-year-old grandmother that she realized she needed to make a change. "It was a shocking moment for me," Bosch says. "I was like, 'Wow, you can literally be a senior and still feel bad about yourself because of what you're putting in your body.'" It was at that point that she started looking for healthier candy alternatives, and when she couldn't find any, she started recipe testing in her kitchen. A few months later, she dropped out of college to start SmartSweets, a candy company that recreates classics like gummy bears and Swedish Fish, but with less sugar. The Greendale, Indiana-based company, which officially launched in 2016, is now in more than 10,000 retail stores in the U.S and Canada, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Whole Foods. And with deals in the works with Target, Kroger, and Vitamin Shoppe, Bosch expects that figure to reach 20,000 by the end of 2019. --Brit Morse