Forbes Comes Out With List of Most Promising Companies-After uTest, VMTurbo, and NutraClick, Very Few Boston Co.'s

Wednesday Jan 22, 2014 by Dennis Keohane - Senior Writer, VentureFizz

Today, Forbes came out with its annual list of "Most Promising Companies." The list is made up of America's most promising "high-growth, privately-held companies with under $250 million in annual revenue." (The list is online now and will be featured in the February 10th print issue of Forbes.)

Of the one-hundred companies to make the cut, seven of the companies on the list were from Massachusetts.

By contrast, thirty-four of the companies on the list, which included a whole lot of "IT Software & Services" as well as "Business Services and Supplies" companies, were from California. Furthermore, New York had twenty-three companies on the list.

Both Colorado and Texas had four companies selected.

First off, a big congrats to uTest (soon to be Applause) for making the list at #7!!!

In that slot, uTest is the highest ranked of the thirty-two IT companies on the list. This is the second year that the company has made the list. It is the highest ranked New England/Massachusetts company, which is truly a reflection of all the great things happening at the company's Framingham headquarters these days. 

In a press release sharing the news, uTest's CEO Doron Reuveni said, "Being named as Forbes’ 7th Most Promising Company in America is an amazing honor. And to make their top ten in consecutive years is a great affirmation of the apps economy and uTest’s role in it.”

“Given the future growth of the apps economy – for phones, tablets, laptops, wearable devices and automobiles," he added, "it is critical that companies’ apps work flawlessly in the hands of users. The fact that we enable customers to create apps that their users love positions us well for our future as "Applause" and for the steep growth that lies ahead.” 

VMTurbo made the list at #26.

NutraClick, the local health/wellness/nutrition company, also made the list at #58. That's quite an accomplishment for one of the real under-the-radar Boston companies that more people should know about. Congrats!

Daniel Wallace, NutraClick's CEO and co-founder, said of the news, "It's such a thrill to say we've been named one of America's Most Promising Companies! We truly couldn't be more excited to be recognized with this prestigious honor."

"We're proud to represent alongside the six other stellar Massachusetts companies that also received this accolade," he added.

"To top it off, we're humbled to be the only health and wellness products company on the entire list. This brings us tremendous validation that we're building something truly unique and delivering on our commitment to develop cutting-edge products."

"As we approach our five year anniversary," Wallace continued, "we're excited to continue to make our mark, both here in the Boston community, and in the global health and wellness industry."

Additionally, AKLU made the list at #76, Boston Heart Diagnostics was #95, Retroficiency was #97, and Quantopian was #98. 

Also of note, Maine's CashStar made the list at #81.

All seven of the Boston companies on the list deserve kudos for the honor. 

Now, let's dig a little deeper here. 

First off, ONLY seven companies from Boston made the list?

This seems a little odd considering all the great momentum that the tech/innovation sector alone has going for it these days. 

Just take the companies coming out of Techstars Boston alone as an example of all the promising businesses thriving in town.

There could be a ton of different reasons for this discrepancy. One of the first that came to mind was that not that many up-and-coming Boston companies applied to make the list. Here is an explanation of the selection process:

"Though we prize growth numbers on our Most Promising list, top line doesn’t say everything. We want sustainable growth, so we strive to take a holistic gauge of the companies that apply. Over the course of four months we reviewed hundreds of applications from businesses across the country. The final assessment is based on growth (both in sales and hiring), quality of management team and investors, margins, market size and key partnerships. Then we spoke to each company to make sure we didn’t miss anything...Producing a ranking in the opaque world of privately-held companies is never easy. But we’re confident that many of these are the IPOs and billion-dollar acquisitions of tomorrow."

If it is the case that "no one applied" is the main reason why only seven local companies made the "Most Promising" list, shame on the PR/Marketing folks from some of the great local startups.

(Everyone is always bemoaning the lack of national media coverage for all of the great, fast-rising Boston startups, myself included. For shame if part of the problem is that people just aren't trying to draw attention for all of the great projects being thought up and built in town; that includes trying to be mentioned on an attention-grabbing [yet arbitrary] list.)

If this isn't the case, and a number of local startups did apply to be included on Forbes list, then the question becomes why such a small number chosen. Again, we are left scratching our heads and wondering why no on is paying attention or recognizing all the great companies crushing it in Boston. 

After looking at the Forbes list again and doing a quick scan through the ol' "Crunchbase" in my head, there are plenty of promising Boston companies that should be recognized and are more than worthy of being on the list. 

Also, the conspiracy theorist in me looks at the large number of Boston companies that "pop up" between 95-100 on the list and wonders, "Hmm, were they sitting around looking at the list and then realized, 'We have to get a few more Boston companies on here so they don't go ape-shit up there'."

I reached out to Forbes's J.J. Calao, who is responsible for the list, and asked him about the low number of Boston companies, specifically compared to New York. He responded that they don't take geography into account when making up the list and didn't notice the discrepancy.

He confirmed my intitial suspicion, saying, "it must be because we didn't get as many Boston companies applying, or they didn't want to share revenues."

I would love to hear from some local companies that did apply for the list and those that didn't, for confirmation. (Email me at dennis@venturefizz.com or ping me on twitter.)

When it comes down to it, there are a ton of local startups that need more attention, in Boston media outlets and beyond. It should be a goal for 2014 to make that happen more than ever before.

Dennis Keohane is the Senior Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.

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