Inc. Magazine September 2019

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures LLC, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.

United States
Mansueto Ventures LLC
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
no single path

With the rise of video games in the late 20th century came the rise of cheat code culture: “Buy this book [or visit this site] and you will learn everything you need to win at Galactic Insect Invasion.” The advice is usually effective, if a little unsavory. But, in case you need a reminder, most of life—and starting a business in particular—is not like a video game. The annual Inc. 500 list serves as a colorful and potent reminder that there is no cheat code for business growth, no single path to success. Take, for example, Josh Levin, founder of Empowered Electric (No. 210 on this year’s list, and featured on page 108). He is about as far from the Harvard MBA path as it’s possible to get. He may never even…

2 min
grit, growth, and great ideas

Every year, the Inc. team gathers the data, crunches the numbers, and compiles the Inc. 5000. And the Inc. 5000 is not a mere list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. It’s the backbone of the U.S. economy. These businesses generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in revenue, in their hometowns across the country. While the Inc. 500 issue always focuses on companies whose growth rates boggle the mind, it also shines a light on the smart marketers who work tirelessly to help these companies achieve and maintain that level of growth year after year. In doing so, these marketers walk side-by-side with the founders, and share in the innovation that drives their success. This year, Inc. is celebrating its 40th birthday, and it continues to reinforce…

9 min
peak performance

TRIPLE TRIPLE DOUBLE DOUBLE DOUBLE That’s the formula CEO Todd Olson followed to drive Pendo, the cloud-based software platform he co-founded in 2013, to $20.9 million in sales in just five years. Olson learned it from a VC who told him that category leaders—the kinds of companies that go public—triple revenue in the first two years after hitting $1 million, and then double it in each of the next three. “I can tell you that second triple was incredibly challenging,” says Olson, who pulled it off by restructuring Pendo’s team and rethinking his product marketing. Now Olson, a serial entrepreneur with two prior companies under his belt—one failed, one acquired—has landed Pendo on the 2019 Inc. 500. It debuts at No. 73, with 4,267 percent three-year growth, and Olson wants to keep…

4 min

Three-year growth 36,680.4% | 2018 revenue $36.9M Phoenix | Founded in 2015 The story of the fastest-growing private company in America, a profitable technology startup called Freestar whose revenue growth since 2015 has been a staggering 36,680 percent, starts with a calendar. Not a buzzy new calendar app. Not a life-altering meeting request. A printed wall calendar. One of those relics with pictures of animals or landscapes that we all used to tack up in the kitchen. This particular calendar—Tempe12—had, well, swimsuit models. Arizona State University co-eds in bikinis, to be exact. “All the girls had to have a minimum 3.0 GPA, so they had beauty and brains,” explains Freestar co founder David Freedman, without a trace of sheepishness. Freedman, who launched the calendar when he was a 22-year-old fifth-year senior at ASU…

1 min
how the 2019 inc. 500 companies were selected

Companies on the 2019 Inc. 500 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2015 to 2018. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2015. They must be U.S.- based, privately held, for-profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2018. (Since then, some on the list may have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2015 is $100,000; the minimum for 2018 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 three decimal places. There were no ties on this year’s Inc. 500. OPEN HERE TO SEE THIS YEAR’S INC. 500…

1 min

Glass Act The most affection ever given to a disposable cup was likely at the end of a beer-pong table. But, Benson Liu wondered, why couldn’t the lowly drinking receptacle get a high-class makeover, something more akin to a wineglass? Having spent decades in food-container manufacturing, he took a year to figure it out. In addition to developing a new blow-molding process, Liu embraced 3-D printing, allowing customers to personalize glasses with a slew of printed designs. If Liu and his co-founder, Michael Fun, had the chance to do it over? “We’d raise more capital and go big!” says Liu. “We were a little conservative in the beginning. If we’d gone big sooner, we’d have 30 designs by now.” Next up: the Reserve line—reusable and virtually indestructible—is slated to launch this…