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Acknowledging the Significant Economic Impact of Successful Women Entrepreneurs on Business Today

PRESENTED BY: Dr. Marsha Firestone, President & Founder, Women Presidents’ Organization

The growing power of women’s businesses and its profound impact on the economy has not received the attention it deserves. Women are starting businesses at a rate 1.5 times the national average. Women-owned/led middle-market companies generate combined revenues of more than $743 billion and were collectively responsible for more than 6.4 million jobs in 2014.

In 2007, the Women Presidents’ Organization, a peer learning membership group for successful women entrepreneurs that helps accelerate their business, enhance competitiveness and promote economic security, launched the listing of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™ to focus much-needed attention on the vital role that women-owned/led companies have in boosting the economy and enhancing overall job growth. It was a hit!

Each year, we receive hundreds of applicants vying for the distinction of being named one of the “50 Fastest.” The widely anticipated list, generously sponsored by American Express, generates significant media coverage all over the world. While applicants do not have to be WPO members, all eligible companies are ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned or led, and to have reached annual revenue of a minimum of $500,000.

WPO just released the ninth annual ranking of the 50 Fastest, in partnership with American Express. This year’s 50 Fastest list represents our most diverse ranking ever, with an immense geographic reach covering 20 states and one international winner in Turkey, as well as industries ranging from energy efficiency services to cyber-security and engineering. They generated a combined $4.96 billion in 2015 revenues (mean of $99.2 million) and collectively employed 44,744 in 2015 (mean of 1,028).

The top three honorees for 2015 are:

  • S’well, a New York City-based beverage bottle manufacturer, is the fastest growing women-owned business, with increases in revenue ($2,517,155 in 2013 to $47,245,079 in 2015) and employment (3 employees in 2013 to 40 in 2015). CEO Sarah Kauss attributes success to sheer dedication, hard work, and belief in the product and the brand.
  • Pinnacle Group, an IT workforce solutions firm based in Dallas, came in second, with revenue breaking the billion dollar barrier ($1,159,815,799 in 2015, up from $201,493,192 in 2013). Owner Nina Vaca accredits “putting people first” as her number one growth strategy.
  • Fitness studio franchise Orangetheory Fitness based in Fort Lauderdale is the third fastest-growing company. Led by Ellen Latham, the company saw its revenue escalate from $3,147,199 in 2013 to $47,537,711 in 2015 with 56 employees added during that time span.

More about the 2016 50 Fastest:

  • Average age: 49
  • CEOs that founded the business: 92%
  • Listed companies that do business globally: 44%
  • Provide health insurance: 92%
  • Plan to continue to grow their company: 90%
  • Cite hiring the best talent as their biggest business challenge: 44%

This year’s ranking was particularly newsworthy and coincided with the release of a new book that helps us honor fifteen exceptional women by sharing their inspirational stories:

The Women Presidents’ Organization’s 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Guide to Growth, Sponsored by American Express

These leaders illustrate the broad spectrum of industries in which women excel today. From IT solutions to facility operations management and shipping to custom board games to organic meals and snacks, they have generously shared what has and hasn’t worked as they scaled their businesses in five key areas: branding, financing, human resources, innovation, and sales.

I believe that being an entrepreneur is the great equalizer for women in business. You create a culture you can believe in, have more power and influence, and control of your time. And you also pay yourself more: 75 percent of our members pay themselves six-figure incomes.

There is no single path to success. Relationships, innovation, and trust are key ingredients. The stories of accomplishment by the 50 Fastest offer encouragement, inspiration, and hard-won wisdom learned along the way. Every woman founder with the passion, courage, and tenacity to start and grow a business has the potential to be among the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies.


  • The 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™ is an initiative started by the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) in 2007 and now sponsored by American Express.
  • All privately held, women-owned or women-led businesses that have reached a minimum annual revenue of $500,000 can apply.
  • Winners from the 2015 list generated a combined $4.96 billion in revenue and collectively employed 44,744 people.
  • The list illustrates the broad spectrum of industries that women are excelling in today, including energy efficiency services, cyber security, engineering, IT solutions, shipping, consumer products and more.