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Exclusive: These Are the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses

Apr 06, 2016

When Sarah Kauss came up with the idea for a high-end water bottle company, she anticipated starting a small, niche business and then going back to a more traditional job once the new venture was off the ground.

Little did she know that that company, S'well, would become the fastest-growing women-owned business in the U.S., according to an annual ranking by the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), a nonprofit membership group for female leaders, in partnership with American Express.

The list, which is in its ninth year, ranks companies based on both percentage and absolute growth. To qualify for the ranking, businesses must be privately-held, woman-owned/led, and have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2011 and $2 million in 2015. Together, the 50 companies on the list generated a combined $4.96 billion in revenues last year.

S'well, which continues to be self-funded, had revenue of nearly $50 million in 2015, up from about $2.5 million in 2013. "We grew really, really slowly in the beginning and then really quickly in the last couple of years," says Kauss, who was featured on Fortune's 40 Under 40 in 2014. "And it's because of that slow start that I got to think a lot about brand positioning and establish S'well as a luxury brand."

Not having to answer to investors or worry about employees (Kauss was S'well's only employee for the first couple of years after founding the company in 2010) meant she could take her time establishing the brand and educating consumers about her product, a water bottle that can keep liquids cool for 24 hours and hot for 12.

S'well is joined at the upper reaches of the list by executive search firm Pinnacle Group (No. 2) and boutique fitness chain Orangetheory (No. 3).

"We're seeing more non-traditional women-led and women-owned businesses. More technology, more manufacturing," says Marsha Firestone, president and founder of WPO. Yet the major characteristics of female leaders, who made up 36.2% of businesses owners in 2012, haven't changed, she says.

The number one thing they all have in common? "They’re totally driven."

Here is the full list of WPO's 50 fastest-growing women-owned businesses:

  1. S'well
  2. Pinnacle Technical Resources
  3. Orangetheory Fitness
  4. Morning Star Financial Services
  5. E2 Optics
  6. Aerial Development Group
  7. BlackLine
  8. Matisia Consultants
  9. BrightStar Franchising
  10. Legion Logistics
  11. Ivie & Associates
  12. Akorbi
  13. Erkunt Tractor Industries
  14. Strategy and Management Services
  15. TransPerfect
  16. Xtreme Solutions
  17. Tribal Tech
  18. Atrium Staffing
  19. Point 2 Point Global Security
  20. NuGate Group
  21. OpTech
  22. Quantum Health
  23. Swoon Group
  24. MegaCorp Logistics
  25. Maximum Games
  26. Blink Reaction
  27. Protea Group International
  28. InGenesis
  29. Xclusive Staffing
  30. Zero Waste Solutions
  31. Excellence Engineering
  32. Design To Delivery
  33. The Revel Group
  34. ORI
  35. ICON Information Consultants
  36. Home Care Assistance
  37. Atlantic Infra
  38. The Greene Group
  39. Boost Technologies
  40. Ampcus Inc
  41. Merrimak Capital Company
  42. Social Media Link
  43. The Bakery Cos.
  44. J Curve
  45. Imagine Technology Group
  46. Anserteam Workforce Solutions
  47. Walker-Miller Energy Services
  48. Overture Promotions
  49. Technology Group Solutions
  50. Vivere Health
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