Fast Tracked: Alumni-led Companies Named to Fast 100 List

Five firms led by Haas alumni recently made the San Francisco Business Times’ Fast 100 list of the Bay Area’s fastest growing private companies. The honored Haas-led companies include TubeMogul, New Avenue, Back to the Roots, Modify Watches, and cPrime.

The 2014 class of the Fast 100 are drawn from nearly every industry, including food companies, e-commerce startups, and software firms. Even the slowest among the Fast 100 had more than 50 percent growth from fiscal years 2011 to 2013, the time framed used for this list.

Here’s more on each:

TubeMogul (#35)

After several years of explosive growth, TubeMogul’s days as a private company are over. It went public in July 2014, raising just under $44 million. TubeMogul was co-founded by (CEO) Brett Wilson, John Hughes, and Mark Rotblat, all MBA 07, who met in an MBA class on entrepreneurship at the Haas School’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. The Emeryville, Ca.-based online video ad company grew 265.4 percent between 2011 and 2013. The founders offer key advice to entrepreneurs in the Fast 100 article: "In the early stages of any company, it’s critical that you’re able to do everything yourselves: build, sell, recruit, raise money, literally everything. No one will do it for you. But as you grow and evolve, it’s critical that you transition from an entrepreneur into an executive that can lead, manage, and empower others."

New Avenue (#46)

CEO Kevin Casey, MBA 09, founded New Avenue as an online platform for custom home construction in 2009. The Emeryville, Ca.-based company grew 175.5 percent from 2011 to 2013. Casey commented on the decision that most influenced the company's fast growth: “We decided to focus on solving the problem of housing, financial security, and helping families stay close together. This is a huge problem both in market size and in direct impact for every single client.”

Back to the Roots (#57)

Ro Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, co-founded Back to the Roots, which produces home mushroom-growing kits and a self-cleaning fish tank that grows food called AquaFarm. Back to the Roots grew 137.2 percent from 2011 to 2013.  Asked by Fast 100 editors what decision most influenced the company's fast growth, they say: “The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" is equally true for business – we wouldn't be here without the support we received from the incredible community around us. From mentors through InnerCityAdvisors, to our first capital from Fund Good Jobs and Beneficial State Bank, to our first customers at the Berkeley Whole Foods — we owe a massive thank you to our community!”

Modify Watches (#75)

Aaron Schwartz, CEO, MBA 10, founded Modify with Gary Coover, MBA 10, and Liz Callahan, MBA 11. The San Francisco-based watch designer grew 96.5 percent from 2011 to 2013.  On the company’s biggest mistake, Schwartz says: "We spent a lot of time pursuing growth in multiple channels, instead of just focusing on our main strength: customizing watches for company gifts.

Advice for other entrepreneurs? "Within your network you have answers to all of the issues that you're going to come across. So be open with your struggles and ask for help — people will step up, they want you to succeed!"

 cPrime (#99)

Zubin Irani, CEO, BCEMBA 13, co-founded this Foster City, Ca.-based project management consulting and staffing company, which grew 59.8 percent from 2011 to 2013. CPrime has made the Fast 100 for an impressive seven straight years and has also been named one of the Top 500 Fastest Growing companies in Inc. Magazine. Founded in 2003, the company has 90 employees. On a decision that contributed to the company's growth, Irani says: "We stopped trying to push our solutions to our clients and started to ask them what their biggest problems were that they needed help solving. We made sure we helped solved those.  It made us more valuable to them, and the products we sold were what our clients wanted."

TubeMogul co-founders Mark Rotblat, Brett Wilson (CEO), and John Hughes.