Around this time of year, many students are focused on finding a job in Startup Land and building their careers. If you have your own idea and no one can talk you out of it, that's awesome. But for most undergraduates and graduate students, they have no idea how to get plugged in to the startup community. I gave some advice in my post, Seeking a Job in Startup Land, but I didn't give specific pointers to companies who I think are emerging winners and thus good places to begin your startup career.
For many years, I have been keeping an updated list of interesting, scaling start ups (private or recently public) to share with the students in my HBS class to point them in the direction of good, fast growing companies worth exploring. I recently learned that Andy Rachleff at Stanford does the same, although it is lighter on East Coast companies. Now that graduation season is coming, I thought I would "open source" and share my current list, organized by geography. Note that this is my own imperfect point of view with imperfect data (full disclosure: Flybridge portfolio companies are hyperlinked). Feedback welcome!
There are a number of founder leadership models that can work well as a startup evolves. I have lived a few as an entrepreneur and worked with many as a board member. Getting the founder model right is critical because the founder is the soul of a company. If you can navigate a leadership model that keeps the founder involved and engaged in the business as it scales, it meaningfully improves your odds that startup magic will happen.
Putting aside the complexities of multiple founders (as I talked about in my post, The Other Founder), the founder leadership model tends to fall into a few buckets:
I have implemented each of these models in my portfolio. The right model varies based on the circumstances, obviously, and most importantly based on the makeup of the founder and what they are good at and what they love to do. Good founders realize early on that there is a Start Up Law of Comparative Advantage and that they need to quickly figure out what they are uniquely awesome at and hire the right complimentary team around them.
I find the old school model of shoving the founder aside happens only in rare situations. More typically, early investors focus on employing one of these three models to keep the founder(s) close to the business and put the right team in place around them to allow the company to successfully evolve and grow.