The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Zulily's growth since launch has been astounding, and their success story is a big win for the Seattle startup community. It's inspiring to see what a company can do with hyperfocus and calculated execution over such a short period of time.
- Martina Welke, Zealyst
Jon Oringer, the CEO and co-founder of Shutterstock (SSTK), is an exceptional leader who has built an amazing business. Oringer's personal experience as a photographer led him to a disruptive vision for the stock photography market. This vision has been executed on impeccably to build one of the New York tech scene's most successful poster-children.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
Annie's, an organic foods company, went public a little over a year ago. I admire the company because its success is largely due to female entrepreneurs, something I think this country needs more of.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
Twitter's real appeal is just how simple and focussed it is. You don't have to worry about all the bells and whistles of a service like Facebook. As one of the world's most recognizable tech companies, Twitter has truly impressed me by maintaining that same level of simplicity and focus, even through IPO.
- James Simpson, GoldFire Studios
A. Castlight Health
With 2013 revenues at $13 million, Castlight Health offered an IPO at $200 million with $16 a share, valuing it at about $1.4 billion. Shares more than doubled in the first day of trading. Castlight's current valuation isn't representative of conventional analysis, but rather an expectation by investors on it's ability to meet a large market need -- enabling employers to lower healthcare costs.
- Divya Dhar, Seratis
I'm a big fan (and customer) of Wix.com. The company went public in November 2013, trading at more than $125 million on opening day. The company has done a fantastic job of making HTML5 websites accessible to everyone. The drag-and-drop interface is gorgeous, and I love the company's internal goal for its employees of not letting perfection be the enemy of progress.
- Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
GrubHub has a way of staying witty, funny and successful. Their marketing has a distinctive voice -- when you get a GrubHub email, you know its from GrubHub because of the humor and the creativity. They deliver a sense of comfort and trust along with a lightheartedness that you don't get with other companies.
- Michael Patak, TopstepTrader
King has been able to create a game, Candy Crush, with such widespread appeal and staying power that the company was able to achieve a $5 billion market cap almost solely off of it. Say what you want about its staying power going forward, but it's a very impressive feat.
- Josh Weiss, Bluegala
RocketFuel was one of the IPOs that caught my eye in 2013. They seem to really have themselves together, and since we can all see how much of a big deal mobile is and continues to be, it's great that they're ahead of the curve on it.
- Daniel Wesley, DebtConsolidation.com
A. Tableau Software
So much hard work has gone into Tableau going public. A lot of people think that Tableau was an overnight sensation, but they've been around over 10 years grinding away in the Seattle area. Christian Chabot went into a space that was saturated by big companies like SAP, Oracle and MSFT, and made his permanent mark. Even after their successful IPO they are acting like a tenacious startup.
- Andrew Vest, Preferling