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How Great Sheets and High-Tech Underwear Helped Propel This Year’s Top NYC Businesses

Among the rapidly expanding Big Apple companies are ones that provide services for other small businesses, in industries including adtech and finance.

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BY Christine Lagorio-Chafkin - 21 Aug 2018

CREDIT: Paulo Silva/Unsplash

It's no surprise that some of the world's most creative, enterprising companies with hyper-charged growth were born in the City That Never Sleeps. Businesses in finance, fashion, and media--New York's signature industries--have popped up near the top of the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The roster of NYC-based businesses that have achieved astronomical revenue growth over the past three years includes some that provide services for other small businesses, as well as, remarkably, two direct-to-consumer companies that began by rethinking textiles. Here are the top 10 from this year's list.

Namely's New York City office. CREDIT: Andrew Persons

10. Namely

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 79 Three-year growth 4,096% 2017 revenue $34.8M

Namely's founders set out in 2012 to create "HR for humans" by making a human resources, payroll, and benefits platform that feels as intuitive as social media. The company, which has over 400 employees across five cities, works with more than 1,000 midsize businesses--and 72 percent of its customers say its services have made their employees more productive.

From left: Compass COO Malle Gavet, co-founder and executive chairman Ori Allon, and co-founder and CEO Robert Reffkin. CREDIT: Courtesy Compass

9. Compass

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 71 Three-year growth 4,309% 2017 revenue $370.6M

Ori Allon, a former Twitter engineering chief, and Robert Reffkin, a Goldman Sachs veteran, sought to upend the real-estate industry. They began by creating a massive, easy-to-browse housing search. Soon, Compass opened up its platform for sellers and agents, too, permeating every part of the home-sales process with its technology. The company has gone national, with offices from the Hamptons to Aspen to Santa Barbara.

Fundera's New York City office. CREDIT: Courtesy Fundera

8. Fundera

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 69 Three-year growth 4,336% 2017 revenue $8.7M

This online marketplace connects small Main Street businesses with a variety of lenders, and helps them better understand the real terms of loans and other funding options. Fundera's CEO, Jared Hecht, previously was a wunderkind of the social-messaging startup scene, having co-founded GroupMe, which was acquired by Skype for $85 million.

Adstruc branched out part of its business into Project X three years ago; the new technology helps customers plan and optimize their outdoor advertising campaigns. CREDIT: Courtesy Project X

7. Project X

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 65 Three-year growth 4,411% 2017 revenue $9.7M

Project X builds targeted outdoor-ad campaigns for brands, ushering an old industry into the digital era. The 26-employee company uses a platform called Adstruc, which allows outdoor advertising providers to upload and showcase their inventory, as well as helping manage their sales process.

Argust Merchant Services employees take a break in the company’s Lower Manhattan office. CREDIT: Courtesy Argus Merchant Services

6. Argus Merchant Services

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 64 Three-year growth 4,456% 2017 revenue $51.9M

Argus Merchant Services' credit- and debit-card processing payment platform is competitively priced and used by more than 100,000 merchants. Its offices are nestled in New York City's financial district.

Affordable Luxury Group founder Aimee Kestenberg Elan. CREDIT: Courtesy Affordable Luxury Group

5. The Affordable Luxury Group

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 55 Three-year growth 4,797% 2017 revenue $16.5M

Aimee Kestenberg made her name in 2012 by launching a handbag line in major department stores. Next came luggage. Then jewelry. To house some of her projects, she created a parent company in 2014: The Affordable Luxury Group. Today, the business manages the fast-growing American Leather Co., as well as other brands including C. Wonder, Halston, and Isaac Mizrahi.

The sometimes far-flung team from PowerInbox (mostly a virtual company, with an office in New York City) gather for a team event. CREDIT: Courtesy PowerInbox

4. PowerInbox

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 30 Three-year growth 7,534% 2017 revenue $18.9M

While other companies began writing email's obituary, PowerInbox doubled down on creating and distributing email-based advertising customized to individuals' tastes, desires, and demographics. CNN and Hearst use the company's services for their newsletters--accounting for just a slice of the 10 billion pieces of content PowerInbox helps distribute each month.

Some of Progynys staff gather, with CEO David Schlanger at center right, in blue shirt. CREDIT: Courtesy Progyny

3. Progyny

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 28 Three-year growth 8,675% 2017 revenue $48.9M

Founded in 2008, Progyny spent years pursuing a technology to help embryologists. But when it was rendered obsolete by competing technology, the company pivoted to creating and selling fertility benefits to large corporations. The strategy worked. According to CEO David Schlanger, Progyny's revenue is projected to more than double to $100 million in 2018. The company's own benefits include mentorship programs, a kitchen stocked with healthy food--and, of course, fertility coverage.

Brooklinen co-founders Rich and Vicki Fulop. CREDIT: Courtesy Brooklinen

2. Brooklinen

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 25 Three-year growth 9,154% 2017 revenue $47.9M

It took two years of bootstrapping for husband-and-wife Rich and Vicki Fulop to develop their concept of a direct-to-consumer luxury bedding company out of their Brooklyn apartment. Brooklinen, the "Warby Parker for sheets," took off after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014. In a year the couple made $2 million--still at their dining-room table. The next year: $20 million.

Thinx CEO Maria Molland Selby in the company’s office with her daughter Inga. CREDIT: Courtesy THINX

1. Thinx

2018 Inc. 5000 rank No. 17 Three-year growth 10,924% 2017 revenue $39.6M

Thinx's body-positive messaging and open talk about menstruation changed the game of marketing to women. But employees claimed intimidation and harassment by CEO Miki Agrawal, who resigned in 2017. In 2018, the company reorganized, beefed up HR, and brought in Maria Molland Selby as CEO. Selby has doubled headcount from 32 at the time of her hiring, and is planning a new round of venture capital funding to further speed the company's growth and expand into new markets.

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