Our apologies. The word “hot” doesn’t do justice to the young, fast-growth businesses honoured in these pages. Just to make it onto the tail end of this year’s PROFIT HOT 50 ranking required two-year revenue growth of 351%—the highest in the list’s 14-year history. And, amid an economic recovery so tepid that it hardly deserves that name, the average HOT 50 company grew by 1,450%.
This year’s HOT 50 winners achieved their exceptional growth in an intriguing range of businesses. EMcision International (No. 14) makes catheters that oncologists use to heat and destroy cancer cells, while FundRazr (No. 30) has applied its crowdfunding smarts to help raise $28 million for such causes as families facing devastating medical bills. The list even includes a company—Sterling Cross Defense Systems (No. 6)—that sells sniper rifles and drone aircraft. (Regrettably, we did not receive any free samples.)
Although these firms operate in a diverse array of sectors, they do share some common ground—including the intensity of their belief in the mission their business was founded to achieve. Dave Wilkin was convinced that most companies were failing badly in connecting their marketing with Gen Y, so he founded an agency, Redwood Strategic (No. 13), to help them get it right. His best advice for other start-ups: “Start a company to solve a problem you’re so passionate about that you lose sleep and don’t eat right.”
Another common theme when HOT 50 CEOs discussed their businesses is the need to be absolutely ruthless in your focus. Travis Blake’s firm R3 Deconstruction & Demolition (No. 42)—which knocks down buildings with such care for the surroundings it merits the term “sustainable deconstruction”—made the classic startup mistake of taking on any project that came its way. “Then we came up with a Do not do’ list,” says Blake. “To say no and walk away from money is hard. But as soon as we became much more confident about our core offering, we became much more profitable.”
Krista LaRiviere at SEO software developer gShift Labs (No. 29), meanwhile, stresses the extraordinary determination it takes to build a growth star: “It’s supposed to be really, really difficult. Suck it up!”
HOW DO WE RANK THE HOT 50 COMPANIES?
Entries are ranked by two-year revenue growth, verified by reviewing financial statements. All growth rates are calculated from base-year revenue of at least $100,000. .
Entries were solicited through a form published in PROFIT and on PROFITguide.com, and through targeted direct mailings to qualifying companies. The nomination drive also was promoted through several major business organizations and sister magazines, including Canadian Business, Connected for Business and Maclean’s. The information in the print edition, plus further information about each HOT 50 company on PROFITguide.com, are the only data that PROFIT will release about the HOT 50.
It’s never too early to indicate your interest in entering the 2014 HOT 50!