The Philadelphia 100

By Erin McGowan, Associate Director, Wharton Small Business Development Center

logoEvery year since 1988, the Philadelphia 100® Award Program has identified and honored the 100 fastest growing, privately held entrepreneurial companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region. The Philadelphia 100 is run by the Wharton Small Business Development Center, the Entrepreneurs’ Forum of Greater Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The winners are headquartered in 10 counties surrounding Philadelphia: Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks counties in Pennsylvania; Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer Counties in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware.

On October 16, 2013, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, on the Penn campus, was alive with anticipation. The mood at the Philadelphia 100 is always celebratory. It’s a mini-Oscars, of sorts, for the region’s entrepreneurial set: this is when they come together to celebrate the top performers of the year.  Fabulous snacks from Philly eateries Tashan, HipCityVeg, and Distrito accompanied the mingling and networking that preceded the ceremony, and local celebrity Mike Jerrick of FOX 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” was on hand to host.

During the ceremony itself, the excitement slowly grew.  Before that night, companies only knew that they were on the list—they didn’t know where they would place. So as the countdown proceeded from 100 to 1, the thrill increased, as one by one the winners were called to the brightly lit stage.  At last only one company remained: this year’s #1 fastest growing company, Prepay Nation!

The rankings in the Philadelphia 100 are based on the 3-year revenue growth rate of the winners.  All of the companies on this year’s list had growth rates of over 50%.  Prepay Nation, an enterprise that enables micro-payments from one person to another across international borders via mobile connections, grew by over 2700%!

Illustrating the stamina of these fast-growing companies, six companies and seven CEOs were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, which includes each company that makes the Philadelphia 100 list five times and each CEO who held the position of CEO for a Philadelphia 100 winner five times or more.

This year, two new awards were given to celebrate the innovative companies of the list.  The Founders’ Cup Award for the largest total 3-year sales growth was awarded to Insight Pharmaceuticals.

Therese Flaherty, David Thornburgh, and Gary Downing. Picture Credit: Daniel Burke Photography
Therese Flaherty, David Thornburgh, and Gary Downing. Picture Credit: Daniel Burke Photography

Therese Flaherty, Director, Wharton Small Business Development Center, David Thornburgh, Executive Director of the Fels Institute of Government of the University of Pennsylvania and the SBDC Director who founded the Philadelphia 100, presented the award to Insight CEO, Gary Downing.

For the fastest growing manufacturing winner in Southeast Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Award was presented to John Pomp Studios by Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser.

The Wharton SBDC is always proud to recognize clients among the winners of the Philadelphia 100.  Among them this year were Fun and Function, which has been lauded for “normalizing” the experience of being different, and helping children achieve their fullest potential by creating their own line of fun and engaging toys and therapy tools, and Union Packaging, which creates some of the most recognizable cartons in the marketplace, specializing in printing and forming paperboard folding cartons for the food and restaurant industry.

Nominations are already being accepted for next year’s awards at  Perhaps you know a company who deserves to be recognized as one of the fast-growing in the area?  Feel free to nominate your own business in the spirit of entrepreneurship!

Just for fun, we pulled together a list of the Philadelphia 100 companies with a Penn connection, and we’re proud to see that there are lots! Let us know if we missed anyone.

#1 Prepay Nation, Anurag Jain GEX’06 (Master of Science in Engineering)

#7 WizeHive, Michael Levinson W’81 (Bachelor of Science in Economics)

#9 Greenphire, Samuel Whitaker C’02 (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy)

#23 Cognis IT Advisors, Geffrey Kent WG’92 (Master of Business Administration)

#29 Princeton Resource Associates, Shahid Ahmed WG’87 (Master of Business Administration)

#31 Lima Consulting Group, Paul Lima GEX’03 (Master of Science in Engineering)

#55 Petplan, Chris and Natasha Ashton, both WG’03 (Master of Business Administration)

#61 Union Packaging, Michael Pearson C’84 (Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Management)

#64 Henry A. Davidsen, Master Tailors & Image Consultants, Brian Lipstein C’06 (Bachelor of Arts in Economics)

#80 LiquidHub, Jonathan Brassington GEN’97/WF’08 (Master of Engineering and Wharton Certificate)

#91 Viking Yacht Company, Robert T. Healey Sr. L’54 (Juris Doctor)

Erin Photo thumbnailBio: Erin McGowan, Associate Director, joined the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2007. Erin supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Wharton SBDC Business Building program.  Prior to the Wharton SBDC, Erin was at a New York City-based non-profit, Housing Works, and in Corporate Services at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Erin has a Master’s Degree in in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.