Acquires and renovates multifamily properties turns them into investment platforms.
Not long ago, Scott Everett, the founder of Dallas-based real estate firm S2 Capital, was on government assistance and waiting tables to support his family. He was also teaching himself the real estate business, and trying a number of different ideas before hitting on a business model that worked: investing in distressed or underperforming apartment complexes. He founded S2 in 2012 and completed just one deal, but his volume would soon begin to increase rapidly. To date, the company has acquired roughly 17,000 units at around $1.6 billion in portfolio value, and has averaged better than 40 percent returns for its investors.
As S2's deals have increased, so has its revenue. The 250-employee company made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. the past two years. It generated $89.5 million in 2017, and Everett says the company is on track for $160 million this year. Everett, who has never raised funding from outside sources and retains 100 percent ownership of S2, now has his eye on new territories. The company has recently invested in properties in Florida, and plans to expand to Arizona and Nevada soon. --Doug Cantor
Sells protein shakes, acai bowls, yogurt, sandwiches, and wraps at nine locations.
Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman, both 28, met when they pledged the same fraternity in college, and back then, they didn’t expect to start a company together. But they saw a need for affordable, quick, and healthy foods on college campuses and in 2011, during their junior year, they launched Shake Smart at their school, San Diego State University. "The gym is definitely one of the most popular areas on campus, but the food options never really matched that," Reiman says. "We would exist off [pre-made] protein drinks for most of our time there and most of them are awful--that was never really a great experience." Their San Diego-based startup makes and sells protein shakes, sandwiches, wraps, acai bowls, and cold brew coffee, all for between $3 and $7. Customers use the company’s proprietary self-order system, which keeps hiring costs low and ensures that menu prices fit within the budget of most college students. Last year, the company saw more than $3.6 million in revenue, expanded to 10 restaurants on campuses in California, Texas, and Florida, and employed more than 150 people. The co-founders raised nearly $1.5 million in total funding from friends and family, personal savings, and loans. --Emily Canal
Manufactures nicotine liquid for e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
Solace Technologies' first year of business was about what you'd expect from a startup--funds were tight and the company's founders, who didn't take a salary for 12 months, worked from a basement in an office building in downtown Los Angeles. But they stuck with it. The nicotine liquid manufacturer has grown mightily since then, reaching $3.7 million in 2017 revenue. And soon it will move into a 40,000-square-foot facility north of the city.
Amid stiff competition, in 2016, the company began producing a different formula of nicotine liquid, which is used inside vaporizers and e-cigarettes. Its new product, made with nicotine salt, is considered more satisfying for people addicted to nicotine, as it mimics the buzz of a cigarette. More and more distributors began carrying their products and Solace started making nicotine salt liquid for a couple of big tobacco companies. With the recent acquisition of its contract manufacturer, Solace estimates it will bring in $18.1 million in annual revenue by the end of 2018. --Will Yakowicz
Provides data services and software that help public agencies improve arrival predictions by up to 30% and complete planning projects up to 90% faster, leading to increased ridership, fewer complaints, and more efficient transit operations.
WHY WE'RE A BEST PLACE TO WORKAt Swiftly, our employees care deeply about improving the world through transit while learning and growing personally. Our mission is interwoven with the foundation of our culture. Swiftly invests in initiatives that cultivate our culture on a larger scale--things like investing early in an employee survey platform so that everyone's voice is heard, running monthly company-sponsored volunteer happy hours, and providing an educational stipend for every employee. There is also an employee-run culture committee.
Tiesta Tea Company
Creates understandable, affordable and accessible quality loose tea blends by using natural fruits, herbs and spices that enhance the flavor and function of tea.
We’re a tight knit crew that keeps it simple; all natural, loose leaf tea blends with real fruits and herbs. Today, our 50 flavorful & functional loose leaf teas can be found nationwide in over 6,500 specialty, natural and conventional grocery stores along with hundreds of cafes! We tell you what matters: what it does for you, what it tastes like, and how to make it. So what’s stopping you? Find your function, pick your flavor and get ready to Live Loose!
WHY WE THINK WE'RE A GREAT PLACE TO WORK
It is work and lots of play at Tiesta Tea, but the benefits make it even better. Employees get 15 PTO days a year plus one day for every year they have worked with us and flexible work-from-home days. Each employee gets annual profit share, as well as a bonus for the winter seasons. The health benefits include health, vision, dental and the 401k plans match up to 4%, and a good retirement plan. We offer paid maternity and paternity leave and every day there is open fridge at 4 pm and on Fridays, open fridge starts at 3 pm.