The Fastest-Growing Private Companies According to Inc. — What to Expect Next

By Jemima McEvoy Sunday, August 30, 2020

Every year, Inc. magazine releases its much-anticipated list of the top 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America. This is a prestigious achievement for companies that helps propel them forward, joining the ranks of some of the country’s most influential players. It’s also an indicator of the changing demographics of businesses: what kind of companies are succeeding, where they are from, and who founded them. Here’s what you need to know about the private companies topping this year’s rankings.

The 2020 Inc. 5000 list is once again full of successes, surprises, and sensational startups. According to Inc., this year’s companies were particularly competitive within their markets, showing “staggering growth compared to prior lists.” A press release notes that companies reported a three-year average growth of 500 percent and a median rate of 165 percent. In total, the 2020 Inc. 5000 companies surpassed over $209.7 billion in total revenue and added 582,741 jobs to the U.S. economy. Among those featured were 3,149 repeat honorees.

Though the minimum revenue for qualification for 2020—an indication of the list’s competitiveness—is not yet known, this figure’s growth over the years shows how increasingly difficult it has become for companies to secure a spot among the country’s fastest-growing companies. For example, in 2016, the minimum revenue required to make the Inc. 5000 list was $100,000. While in 2019, companies needed $2 million. This year, Inc. says, making the list followed the trend of heightened challenge. The lowest ranking companies on the list reported 55% growth, a high threshold.

Another interesting feature of this year’s list is the notable diversity of the qualifying companies’ industries. “The companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 come from nearly every realm of business,” Inc. editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk said in a press release. “From health and software to media and hospitality, the 2020 list proves that no matter the sector, incredible growth is based on the foundations of tenacity and opportunism.”

Georgia-based software company OneTrust, which helps clients build integrated programs that comply with privacy and security laws, topped this year’s list, reporting 48,337% growth. However, the top 10 companies spanned numerous industries, from media, to health, to telecommunications. One of relatively few media companies to make the list, California-founded independent music distribution and publishing company, Create Music Group, ranked number two in 2020. Then, consumer products & services business Hunt A Killer, an entertainment experience in which customers become detectives and solve fictional crimes, from Baltimore, Maryland, was the sixth fastest-growing company — illustrating just how zany and varied honorees were this year. Good ideas shine through, no matter what they are.

Nonetheless, software companies performed best overall, appearing on the list 551 times (11.02% of the total honorees), more than businesses from any other industry. The next top-performing industry was advertising and marketing with 454 Inc. 5000 companies (9.08% of total honorees), closely followed by the business products and services sector, which appeared 453 times (9.06% of total honorees). Other notable mentions were health businesses (7.02% of total honorees), construction businesses (6.94% of total honorees), and IT management businesses (6.6% of total honorees).

The location data of this list’s winners is also interesting. Honorees are spread out all across the country, hailing from Alaska, the Dakotas, and Puerto Rico. However, according to the list, the most entrepreneurial state of 2020 is California, where 720 (14.4%) of the country’s fastest-growing companies are based. Next is the lone star state Texas, which boasted 431 (8.62%) of the 2020 honorees. Florida (7.52%), New York (6.38%), Virginia (5.6%), and Illinois (4.8%) also housed hundreds of the Inc. 5000 companies. Other top-ranking states include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New Jersey.

One of the benefits of making it onto the Inc. 5000 list is what it does for brands going forward. The honor is extremely well-recognized in the business world and comes with many other added perks. For example, Inc. offers a 25% discount with Cision PRWeb to help companies spread the news of their place on the list. Inc. also has various marketing and recognition products, such as high-impact logos, posters, mobile reprints, and plaques, so that businesses can leverage the achievement to prospects, vendors, and customers. One of the first things companies do is plaster the Inc. 5000 logo on their website, demonstrating its emerging success.

There are longer-term benefits to joining, too — in Inc.’s own words, their “very exclusive club.” Though Inc. does not have a public tracker of all the Inc. 5000 honorees to go public, a press release clarifies that “a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired” since it was created. A place on the list certainly opens up the door to major opportunities, partnerships, and purchasing options from competitors. Among previous list-toppers are household names like Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, LinkedIn, Patagonia, Yelp, and Timberland. It’s where many companies get their start — and this year is no exception.

About the Author


Headshot for Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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