As we prepare our program for the eighth year of the Fast Tech 50 Awards Luncheon, I am struck with a sense of pride and accomplishment pertaining to the region’s tenacity and desire to take an idea and make it a reality, which quite frankly in other parts of the country would never see the light of day. It’s been six weeks since we all felt the impact of Hurricane Ike in the Houston region. And while many parts of our region are still recovering from Ike, the entrepreneurial leaders and emerging companies are still humming along. Our community came together in ways that are reminiscent of time gone by. Neighbors came together, offered help and took an interest in the welfare of each other so that all could make it through those tough days after the storm passed. That same spirit is found within the emerging market community as well. With entrepreneurial leaders from all backgrounds, service providers, and investment communities offering their assistance, the emerging companies of Houston are finally getting the national respect long deserved.
The Class of 2008 will be one of the youngest we have ever had in our program. In comparing this year’s group of winners, it’s clear that they represent a much younger and still developing group of early stage companies. They will have an impact on our local and national economy for many years to come, and they will add to the legacy of what makes Houston the top city in the country to start a business. The youth of many of our new emerging companies is evident with the threshold to make the list rising to the second highest ever at 37.4% for 2008! The average growth rate for this year’s group is a staggering 133%. You always know that you have arrived on the scene when several “national entrepreneurial magazines” are now mentioning many of our Fast Tech 50 companies as organizations to invest in, or watch. Thanks for the publicity guys, but the Houston Business Journal and our Fast Tech 50 program, already scooped you! We’ve been blowing the horn of these entrepreneurs for over 8 years!
During this past year we had over 360 companies express an interest in becoming a member of this exclusive club. The Fast Tech 50 class of 2008 continues Houston’s tradition of technology excellence. And they also bring to the forefront new and different stories of entrepreneurial success. This year’s list of honorees includes; 21 first-time honorees, 14 two-time honorees, 4 three-time honorees, 5 four-time honorees, 5 five-time honorees and 1 six-time honoree. Our five time honorees include: BBS Technologies, Inc., Bluegate Corporation, I.T. Works, Paymetric, Inc., and PreCash Inc. And our only six time honoree this year is Merrick Systems, Inc. What staying power!
During the past year we saw many successful technology events throughout the city. The Houston Technology Center and the Rice Alliance (including the highly success Rice Business Plan competition) held many forums for the start up community. The Houston based Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC) is doing very well in its third year. We continue to hear from the State’s oversight group that the plans submitted from the Houston area are some of the most well received.
Let’s review the nomination and listing process. To qualify for the Fast Tech 50, a company’s headquarters, or a foreign company’s US headquarters must be located in Houston SMSA region. A minimum of 51% of the company’s consolidated net revenues must be involved in the original manufacture, design or development of technology products or delivery of services. A nominee must have minimum net revenues of more than $200,000 in both years. Rankings were determined on the revenue growth percentage from fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2007.
The nominees were asked to submit the following information: nomination form; audited, reviewed or compiled financial statements or tax returns for 2006 and 2007; an overview letter; and background information on the company, its products and/or services. Representatives from PKF Texas validated the information on the nomination form from the information packet. The percentage of revenue growth was computed by comparing net revenues from 2006 to 2007. During the past year we received over 360 nominations for the Fast Tech 50. The organizations that made the top 50 places were then listed.
Overview of the 2008 Fast Tech 50
Our Fast Tech 50 represents a wide variety of industries. The industries represented by our award winners, and the number of entries by their area are as follows: Medical Devices 3, Software 24, Hardware 5, Technical/Consulting Services 5, eCommerce/Business Portals 6, Energy Technology Products 5, and Communications 2.
One honoree was started in the 1970s. Two of our honorees were started in the 1980s. Fourteen honorees were started in the 1990s. Finally, thirty three honorees were started since 2000. This group of honorees is by far, our youngest group of companies ever. Hang on Houston; we’ve got some growing to do!
The local economic impact made by this year’s Fast Tech 50 is phenomenal! When reviewing the entire 50 companies, an impressive overview quickly emerges. These organizations are responsible for creating almost 3,270 jobs and over $629 million in revenues to our local economy. No one industry dominates the Houston business climate anymore. Our businesses are as diverse as our people and our cultures.
Nominations will be accepted for next year’s Fast Tech 50 listing by contacting the Houston Business Journal, PKF Texas, or any of the additional sponsors. Organizations that are nominated will receive additional information and application packets during the spring of 2009. Congratulations to all of our honorees! We look forward to seeing you in next year’s listing.
I have long known that Houston is the best place to start a business, but the facts speak for themselves. Houston, we believe in you! And thanks, for being what you are: The Home of Entrepreneurism.