When Freestar co-founders Chris
Stark (left) and David Freedman
started their business, it was built
on a very different idea than the
one that ultimately landed them
atop this year’s Inc. 500.
disputed the report on Twitter and said the reported losses
were a one-time write o;; the company declined to comment
further on that story to Inc.)
Flood and his wife, Jacklyn, launched Gotcha in 2009
as a provider of free rides for college students. Colleges and
businesses, which could wrap ads around Gotcha’s cars,
paid the bills. The business grew slowly, then pivoted in
2015. It still goes only where it is wanted, securing a university or municipal partner before entering a market. That
ask-permission-not-forgiveness approach diverges from the
confrontational stance of the rideshare giants, and “that has
resonated really well with the market, which had a visceral
reaction to the way others pushed it on them,” says Flood,
who signed Gotcha’s 100th partner in June.
Not every founder expects—or particularly wants—to
build a billion-dollar company. Madeline Haydon, a Vietnam-
ese immigrant who founded $19.1 million Green Grass Foods
(No. 13; 11,623 percent), required speed out of the gate to
create an unassailable market lead for her Nutpods nondairy
co;ee creamer. “We wanted to get out there fast and tell an
earnest story about what we do and be able to fill orders,”
says Haydon. “Especially with food, when you are successful
you can have fast followers and knocko;s.”
Haydon ticks o; multiple opportunities for the Bellevue,
Washington, company’s growth. Among them are the
expansion of existing channels (Nutpods has just 30 percent
penetration in conventional groceries); new channels (mass
market, shopping clubs, food service); and new regions
(Canada, Mexico, overseas). And of course, there will be new
products. But Haydon’s not champing to become a “platform
brand”—the dairy-substitute equivalent of Beyond Meat.
Rather, she just wants her creamer to achieve household-
staple status. “We have been growing fast. But at any time
that could get compromised,” says Haydon. “It’s important
not to get too big for your britches.” At some point, even the most aggres- sive entrepreneurs must accept the realities of scale. Consider Arrive Logistics, a tech- enabled shipping-services broker based in Austin. Arrive lands at a respectable No. 413 on the list with 1, 107 percent growth. But it might have ranked
even higher had it not started from a substantial base of
$30.5 million in 2015—its mere second year in existence. (To
learn more about Arrive’s origins and growth, see page 114.) By
last year, CEO and co-founder Matt Pyatt had heavily invested
in its workforce, generating 2018 revenue of $369 million.
So how does Pyatt intend to keep up triple-digit annual
growth? He doesn’t. “As we near $1 billion in revenue for
2020, we plan to settle into a more sustainable growth rate
between 20 and 50 percent,” says Pyatt, who thinks Arrive
can maintain that pace for five years.
So, congratulate Arrive and its 499 fellow honorees on
their remarkable achievements. Then: Stay tuned.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an Inc. editor-at-large.