Web and food companies head Forbes up-and-comers list


Web-based businesses and food companies have great potential for success, according to Forbes magazine, which has released its latest list of America’s 100 Most Promising Companies.


With the help of CB Insights, a Manhattan-based research firm that tracks investment in high-growth private companies, Forbes identified 100 up-and-comers with serious growth potential.


“Our ranking of 100 promising companies is chocked with interesting outfits poised to take off,” Forbes executive editor Brett Nelson wrote.


“These privately held up-and-comers have compelling business models, strong management teams, marquee customers, strategic partners and precious investment capital.”


“The companies on our AMPC list hail from 22 industries, with software-and-services taking the biggest slice (35%).”


“Ninety have raised outside capital, 70 have a CEO who is also one of the founders, 12 have one younger than 35 years old [and] seven have yet to generate revenue.”


Taking out the top spot is fast casual burger chain Smashburger, founded in 2007 by Tom Ryan, who has a PhD in flavour and fragrance chemistry.


With more than 130 outlets throughout the US, Smashburger will record $54 million in annual revenue by the end of 2011. To date, the company has raised $20 million in private equity.


In second place is BOKU, founded in 2008 by Mark Britto, Ron Hirson and Erich Ringewald. In 2010, fiscal sales for the company stood at $55 million.


BOKU creates software that helps online merchants process payments using a customer’s mobile phone number in place of a credit card. It then takes a small cut of each transaction.


Having raised $42 million in venture capital from investors such as Andreesen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, customers include Facebook and Electronic Arts.


Coming in third is Digital Broadcasting Group, founded in 2006 by Chris Young, which produces online videos for corporations and places them among a network of 2,600 websites.


The company has raised $2.5 million in funding since 2008, and customers include Walmart, American Express, Coca-Cola and Ford.


Here’s a snapshot of some of the top 20 standouts:


ServiceNow, $93 million 

Founded in 2004 by tech veteran Fred Luddy, ServiceNow provides a virtual IT service desk for corporations.


For example, if someone’s hard drive breaks, they can use ServiceNow to create a work ticket and get it fixed. Marquee customers include Johnson & Johnson and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.


Fresh Diet, $17 million

Fresh Diet delivers a day’s worth of healthy food to customers who pay weekly or monthly subscriptions. It serves major US cities including New York, Los Angeles and Miami.


Chief executive Zalmi Duchman founded the company in 2005, in his apartment, with $500 on a credit card. The company raised $2 million from private investors in the spring of 2010.


HubSpot, $15.6 million

Founded in 2005 by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot sells web-delivered software that helps businesses manage “inbound marketing” and traditional email marketing.


This year, it raised $32 million from Sequoia, Salesforce and Google Ventures.


Box, $10.7 million

Box makes file-sharing, storing and collaboration software, delivered over the web. Customers include Proctor & Gamble, Dell Computer and Nokia Siemens Networks.


Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith founded the company as college students in 2005. This year, the company raised $81 million from firms including Bessemer Ventures and Andreesen Horowitz.


Lending Club, $6.7 million

Founded in 2007 by Renaud Laplanche, Lending Club runs a peer-to-peer lending website for personal loans.


It assesses applicants’ risk and allows investors to lend directly to them or spread their money across a number of loans. Earlier this year, the company raised $25 million in venture capital.