Fast-growing private companies are cropping up all over the country, but certain cities stand out as particularly welcoming to entrepreneurs. Here are the 10 cities with the most companies on this year's Inc. 5000, Inc.'s annual tally of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
More and more new companies are thriving in the foothills of the Rockies. Colorado hosts 137 Inc. 5000 companies this year, 48 of which are in Denver. The outdoorsy city is more affordable than coastal locales for young techies, and boasts a robust startup culture. Topping the list is No. 4 Velocity Global, a $49.2 million global staffing firm that landed on the Inc. 5000 for the first time this year--without ever having accepted a cent of venture capital.
This former telecommunications hub is home to 64 of this year's fastest-growing companies (not to mention Mark Cuban). A growing number of startup accelerators, along with an influx of VC funding, makes Dallas an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. Real estate firm S2 Capital (No. 702), a three-time Inc. 5000 company that's also been featured on Inc.'s 30 Under 30 and Best Workplaces lists, is based here.
Houston, one of America's most diverse cities, is a major player in the energy sector and home to 72 companies on the Inc. 5000. Leading the pack is Rebellion Photonics (No. 161), which uses high-tech imaging software to identify and measure gas leaks. A local VC is developing a new startup district in the city, featuring co-working spaces, housing, and even an e-sports arena.
7. San Francisco
San Francisco also has 72 Inc. 5000 companies, but ranks higher thanks to its overall three-year revenue growth rate: 206 percent, compared to Houston's 175 percent. The Bay Area has nurtured more unicorns than any other metropolitan area in the U.S.--and that's despite its high cost of living. The average one-bedroom apartment rents for upwards of $3,000 per month. This year's honorees offer everything from genomic testing kits (uBiome, No. 50) to a meditation app (Calm.com, No. 19).
Known for the annual South by Southwest festival, the Texas capital hosts companies big and small, including Dell, Whole Foods, and 82 companies on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list. The University of Texas at Austin offers many resources for aspiring entrepreneurs, and the city's eccentric bent--"Keep Austin Weird" is an unofficial slogan--means creative types are sure to feel at home.
5. San Diego
Named the fourth-best city for startups in a 2017 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, San Diego excels in biotech and smart city innovation. The University of California, San Diego is a local talent pipeline ranked among the country's best public universities. You'll find software firms, marketing agencies, and direct-to-consumer retailers among the 86 Inc. 5000 companies in this bustling port city.
This Southern tech hotspot is also a logistics hub: UPS and Delta are headquartered here, and Atlanta's airport is the world's busiest. Atlanta prides itself on its diversity, and offers young companies a lower cost of living and a large pool of tech talent. It's home to 105 of this year's fastest-growing businesses; in classic Georgia fashion, 20 of them are located on streets named Peachtree.
Maintaining its position as the Midwest's premier startup destination, Chicago has 110 companies on this year's Inc. 5000 list, two of which secured spots in the top 10: No. 3 Home Chef, a meal-kit provider; and No. 8 GForce Life Sciences, a staffing firm for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The Windy City has launched success stories like RXBar, a protein bar company that sold for $600 million after just five years in business.
2. Los Angeles
The City of Angels nearly doubled its number of Inc. 5000 companies compared with 2017, leaping from sixth to second place as venture funds continue to surge. Figs (No. 21), which designs and sells scrubs and other medical apparel, is one of the 120 fast-growing L.A.-based companies on this year's list. Its revenue grew by a whopping 9,947 percent from 2014 to 2017.
1. New York
Not to be outdone by the West Coast, New York City once again hosts far and away the most Inc. 5000 companies. Sheet maker Brooklinen (No. 25) and absorbent underwear company Thinx (No. 17) are among the 213 NYC businesses on this year's list. The Big Apple is not only a global business capital with a diverse population and an investment landscape that rivals Silicon Valley's; it's also a haven for innovative startups in every industry, and especially for women founders.