NO. 1 DOMO
Founded 2010 City American Fork
Employees 125 Industry Software Website www.domo.com Founder Josh James, 38
What It Is A cloud-based service that transforms the way business is managed by putting real-time business information directly into the hands of business users.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy In two words? Josh James. In 50 words? The Utah Valley superstar knows how to make a business succeed, from acquiring the best talent to developing the coolest product to running a company with flair. (Exhibit A: One of Domo’s I-15 billboards has Burt Reynolds on it. Enough said.) Domo will become a household name come James or high water.
The Big Break “Our ability to attract top talent to Domo, both with employees and investors.”
Best Moment Ever “Showing Domo to CEOs, having them point to their IT guy and then to our product, and hear them say, ‘I want that.’”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “Realizing there was a company five minutes away from where I lived that had great technology that could help jumpstart Domo.”
The Advice “If you can’t raise money for your business, then your pitch or your model isn’t compelling. I had the same problem for years at the beginning of Omniture, and I had to tweak it. Don’t make excuses; just fix it.”
The Three-Year Plan “We will be on the radar of every enterprise tech company either as a partner or a competitor. But don’t tell anyone that.” (Editor’s Note: Well this is awkward.)
NO. 2 ECOSCRAPS
Founded 2010 City Provo Employees 23 Industry Compost Website www.ecoscraps.net Founders Daniel Blake, 24;
Craig Martineau, 23
What It Is A company that transforms leftover fruits and veggies into highly nutritious, 100 percent organic soil through a process similar to composting.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy This million-dollar compost company is going to grow, grow, grow. It’s green (the product is made of food that would have been wasted), it’s fertile (top notch investors/partners are on board), and it’s famous (Ecoscraps has already graced the cover of Inc.). You grow, Ecoscraps.
The Big Break “We cold-called Costco while we were still writing our business plan — and the corporate office allowed us to do a pilot program. Having Costco as one of your first customers? It was a big deal.”
Best Moment Ever “I walked into Home Depot and saw our product there. I grabbed a bag and bought it! I still have the receipt.”
Hardest Moment Ever “The hardest thing for me personally is what it’s done for my social life. I was a very social person before Ecoscraps!”
The Advice “Less time planning and more time doing.”
The Three-Year Plan “We’ll have a national footprint across the country as an organic alternative to MiracleGro.”
NO. 3 KISSTIXX
Founded 2010 City Orem Employees 5 (plus four interns) Industry Consumer product Website www.kisstixx.com Founders Dallas Robinson, 25; Mike Buonomo, 24
What It Is A company that sells lip balm in sets of two. When combined, the two flavors (i.e. Fire & Ice, Sweet & Sour, Peaches & Cream), create the ultimate kissing experience.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy Pucker up, world. With an equal emphasis on science and marketing, this cleverly chic company has all the right chemistry. And now that they’ve scored an investment from Mark Cuban on ABC’s show “Shark Tank” and are in talks with the nation’s largest retailers, this is one kiss to build a dream on.
The Big Break “‘Shark Tank.’ Everyone knew who we were overnight.”
Best Moment Ever “When all the sharks on the show liked our product and Mark Cuban gave us an amazing investment.”
Hardest Moment Ever “Being right in the middle of working the business and having absolutely no money, then finding out my wife was pregnant … Surprise! It turned out to be a best moment, but it was hard in the moment.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “To be able to work KISSTIXX full time, Mike and I both applied at WinCo for the night shift to stock shelves. Sixty people applied, and Mike and I both got the job in the same department! We worked KISSTIXX all day, then WinCo all night. We were super tired, but we got to talk about Kisstixx while we worked together. It was great.”
The Advice “Go after it like nothing else matters.”
The Three-Year Plan “We will be a recognized brand in all major retailers nationally and internationally.”
NO. 4 DROPSHIP.COM
Founded 2011 City American Fork Employees 17 Industry Software Website www.dropship.com Founders Jeremy Hanks, 37; Ben Reece, 33; Blaine Nielsen, 36
What It Is A provider of private drop shipping software platforms and services to suppliers and their retailers that manage product catalogs, inventory feeds and orders.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy A booming industry, proven leadership (sister company is the ever-flourishing Doba) and an impressive product (its platform processes more than 3 billion drop shipping data points) leaves us confident this company’s ship won’t be sailing away anytime soon.
The Big Break “Hasn’t happened yet! It will this year, and it will be us identifying our flagship retail and supplier customers and then starting to scale.”
Best Moment Ever “The day Moses, our company sage and spokesperson (@moses_moose), started talking when people walk through our entry.”
Hardest Moment Ever “Every day, because the to-do list gets longer.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “The entire thing. That’s how we roll. No investors in Doba, no investors in DropShip.com.”
The Advice “1. Don’t waste time raising money until you don’t need it (you’ll know when that is, and then getting money to scale can be smart). 2. Luck is going to determine a lot of your success; but remember: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. 3. Success is what YOU define it to be, not others. 4. The key to success is largely a matter of who can hold on the longest. 5. Leap before you look. Entrepreneurship is a contact sport, don’t sit on the sidelines!”
The Three-Year Plan “We’ll be kicking ass and taking names, with thousands of customers. And definitely the coolest culture around, because the Action Team cannot be stopped (http://dropship.com/company/action-team).”
NO. 5 INCEPTION LEARNING
Founded 2011 City Lehi Employees 6 Industry Education technology Website www.abacusprodigy.com Founders Crystal Huang, 29; Tim Huang, 30
What It Is An advanced EdTech company that has created the first electronic Abacus called the Soropad, which aids in math teaching for children.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy From its impressive product to its notable purpose to its much-deserved awards (it won the Utah Innovation Award for consumer software), this smart company just adds up.
The Big Break “Our partnership with BYU’s Engineering Department. We were finally able to see our vision come to life.”
Best Moment Ever “When Silicon Valley’s 500 Startup’s legendary Dave McClure started to follow me on Twitter! It was absolutely mind-blowing.”
Hardest Moment Ever “When we could not find programmers with the skills to do what we needed done. That being said, it made us so much more sure of what we were doing. Our business was all about improving STEM education and giving children the opportunities to choose tougher majors in college.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “When we had to create our very first skeletal prototype. We had no idea how the electronics work or how to work with plastics. We paid $50 to use the Techshop in the Bay Area and spent some grueling hours figuring out how to do everything.”
The Advice “As cliche as it sounds, NEVER GIVE UP! Not even when you’ve hit the wall about 100 times. Just learn to be resourceful, think outside of the box, and you will see the ‘light!’”
The Three-Year Plan “Inception Learning will be a nationally recognized brand with a projected $20 million in revenues.”
NO. 6 PCCARESUPPORT
Founded 2010 City Provo Employees 19 Industry IT/managed service Website www.pccaresupport.com Founder Ryan Westwood, 28
What It Is A player in the remote technical support industry.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy With strategic alliances and clients like Allstate, Ford and Carsmart, PcCareSupport knows its niche — and delivers. So well, in fact, that from 2010 to 2011, it grew an astounding 935 percent.
The Big Break “In March of 2011 we landed a partnership with a nationwide ISP that launched our business to the next level and has opened many doors to other partnerships.”
Best Moment Ever “Selling our first international customer.”
Hardest Moment Ever “This changes daily. As a young small business we experience things constantly that force us to reevaluate and adapt in ways we never planned.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “The day we transitioned from contractors to employees.”
The Advice “1. Cash flow is king. Watch it like a hawk. 2. Stay focused on what you do best. 3. Always keep a positive attitude and laugh often.”
The Three-Year Plan “We will be providing an all-in-one technical support and service package for all devices internationally.”
NO. 7 PEOPLE WATER
Founded 2010 City Pleasant Grove Employees 10 Industry Beverage Website www.peoplewater.org
Founder Cody Barker, 26
What It Is A bottled water company with an altruistic purpose. For every one of its biodegradable bottles of water sold, People Water donates an equal amount of clean water for people in need.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy A company with a brilliant product and even brighter purpose? Now that’s refreshing.
The Big Break “The most pivotal time in our company was when we were able to travel to Nicaragua and drill a fresh water well for a tiny village. Seeing all our hard work and determination pay off was such a humbling and rewarding experience. That experience continues to motivate us to work hard.”
Best Moment Ever “It was during our trip to drill our first well. After drilling for hours in that tiny village, we finally hit water. Selling our first few accounts was also really awesome.”
Hardest Moment Ever “Saying goodbye to all the friends we made in Nicaragua.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “In 2010 we sponsored our first event at the Sundance Film Festival (a 10-day festival) and ran out of water on day six. That was kind of awkward. We try to bootstrap every hour of every day!”
The Advice “It’s really simple: Don’t give up, and don’t listen to those who doubt you.”
The Three-Year Plan “I see the company continuously growing, selling water and building as many wells as possible.”
NO. 8 ZYLUN
Founded 2010 City Lehi Employees 100 Industry Technology/outsourcing Website www.zylun.com Founder Brigham Tomco, 32
What It Is A company that helps businesses — typically web development and Internet marketing companies — build skilled offshore technical teams.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy With an emphasis on “insourcing” rather than “outsourcing,” the company — which was named one of UVEF’s Top 25 Companies Under 5 — has capitalized and improved on a market that often gets lost in translation.
The Big Break “We landed a large call center client who needed to hire more than 400 people with us.”
Best Moment Ever “Breakeven.”
Hardest Moment Ever “Firing employees.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “Our first office was in a basement, and we had three employees crammed in the storage closet.”
The Advice “If at all possible, bootstrap.”
The Three-Year Plan “We’ll have one thousand-plus employees in the Philippines helping U.S. companies save money and scale quickly.”
NO. 9 COMMUNAL
Founded 2009 City Provo Employees 12 Industry Dining Website www.communalrestaurant.com Founders Colton Soelberg, 33; Joseph McRae, 46
What It Is A fine dining restaurant that supports local farmers and houses strangers at the same tables for a “community” feel.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy Communal has all the right ingredients: former chef of Sundance’s The Tree Room, a strong support for local farmers, a goal to elevate Utah’s dining scene, and the same team that brought us Pizzeria 712. Can we get a standing reservation?
The Big Break “That first check from an investor. That was the day all the thoughts we had were translated into something tangible.”
Hardest Moment Ever “There have been many challenges along the way, but the truth is, for me, that is what makes it interesting. I love coming up against something that challenges our company to grow, learn or stretch in a new direction. I know that can sometimes sound cliché, but without the challenges things would just get boring.”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “We have been very fortunate to have great financing from the beginning. In fact, I believe that is a big part of why we have been successful.”
The Advice “You have to love it. If you don’t, those early months of 80- to 100-hour weeks won’t be worth it. Especially when you look at what you are trading off. If you have a family, you will miss months if not years of their lives. The trade-off has to be for something more than just money. For me, I work every day to make a difference — to make eating in Utah better. That is something I can feel good about when my head hits the pillow at night.”
The Three-Year Plan “I see us adding two to three more businesses. One of our biggest goals and one that is extremely challenging for our industry is to be able to offer health benefits to our team. That one we have set our sights on for this year.”
NO. 10 SIDEKIX
Founded 2011 City Lehi Employees 2 Industry Toy Website www.sidekix.com Founders Aubren Johnson, 33;
Tara Memmott, 41
What It Is A toy company whose flagship product is a ball that unzips into a furry friend.
Why It’s Watch-Worthy Toys will never go out of style, so when a company comes up with a new twist on a classic, that’s just fun. And Sidekix is more than playing ball — they had kids involved in the development of the product and are making huge strides in international distribution.
The Big Break “We were invited to New York Toy Fair and got to exhibit on the main event floor (uncommon for a startup company) right around the corner from Legos. From that show, we pulled international distribution interest as well as interest from a wider variety of distribution channels here in the U.S.”
Best Moment Ever “Traveling to China and working with our factory to get the first samples made. It was thrilling to see our idea come to life.”
Hardest Moment Ever “Ha! Where to begin. Probably realizing we are the entire workforce and have to wear a million different hats; some of which just don’t fit all too well!”
Best Bootstrapping Moment “While we certainly don’t have a money tree out back, we always seem to find what we need — most times it seems to come through small surges of orders from stores.”
The Advice “Dive in and leave the ‘what ifs’ behind you. You will learn quickly that you don’t have all the answers and there will be a million things you didn’t plan on or think about. Starting your company will give you a real world education, and you will grow in ways you’ve never imagined. ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ — Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
The Three-Year Plan “Our goal is to have an expansive line of products that will be distributed in all 50 states and a minimum of 60 countries. We also plan on holding major licenses in sports and movies.”
The Startups to Watch list was selected from a pool of applicants that have less than three years of operating history. The winners were determined by BusinessQ’s editorial board.
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