2008 Startups To Watch


Year Founded: 2006  City: Orem

Employees: 65  Industry: Online Marketing

Web site: www.orangesoda.com

Founders: Jay Bean, 39; Derek Miner, 32; 

Chris Finken, 28

What it does: Online marketing for local businesses.

Why it’s watch-worthy: Chalk it up to the fizz factor: In its year and a half history, OrangeSoda has grown its revenues by a staggering 12,000 percent, grown from four employees to 65, and added offices in Las Vegas and Chicago. 

Number of prior business ideas: “I’ve never liked working for other people. It bothered me. So in 1998 I left my full-time job to do my own thing. I previously built a company called ah-ha.com, which I later sold to a NASDAQ company.”

Why this one: “It all goes back to the marketplace and seeing the needs of the smaller advertiser.”

In 2010: “We’ll be the leading service provider for small- and medium-sized businesses.” 


Year Founded: 2005  City: American Fork

Employees: 11  Industry: Technology

Web site: www.fundinguniverse.com

Founder: Brock Blake, 26 (Other founders: Paul Allen, David Bradford, Trent Miskin and Jeff Jordan)

What it does: Cultivates business opportunities by connecting qualified entrepreneurs with active angel investors. 

Why it’s watch-worthy: Its Web site is currently used by more than 1,000 accredited angel investors, 7,000 entrepreneurs and more than 2,000 business plans, which has led to an impressive 971 percent growth rate since its founding.

Number of prior business ideas: “Dozens.”

Why this one: “It wasn’t a decision of whether or not I’d pull the trigger and start a company, it was which company I should start! I’ve always been an entrepreneur (never had a ‘corporate’ job), and always will be.”

In 2010: “We’ll expand to other regions outside of Utah.


Year Founded: 2006 City: Provo

Employees: 12  Industry: Software

Web site: www.lingotek.com

Executive Team: Rob Vandenberg, 36; Aaron Davis, 33; Jeff Labrum, 38

What it does: Provides collaborative translation software.

Why it’s watch-worthy: A critically-accalimed product coupled with a strong execution has already led to partnerships with the likes of BYU.

Number of prior business ideas: “Too many to count.”

Why this one: The fun of bringing new products to life.

In 2010: “A growing, profitable, innovative technology employing many happy people in Utah.”


Year Founded: 2005  City: Provo

Employees: 200  Industry: Direct Sales

Web site: www.agel.com 

Founder: Glen Jensen, 40 

What it does: Sells nutritional supplements through single-serving gel packets. 

Why it’s watch-worthy: The youthful company is already rivaling its industry giants. It has 250,000 distributors, 200 employees, operates in more than 40 countries, and has a 900 percent growth rate from day one of its operations. 

Number of prior business ideas: “I have built successful companies and then sold them in the past. Agel, however, is special. I do not plan on selling it.” 

Why this one: “I realized immediately my idea was unique enough that I had to build a company around it.”

In 2010: “Agel will become the next direct selling giant.”


Year Founded: 2006  City: Lindon

Employees:Industry: Retail

Web site: www.soledesires.com

Founder: Cari Greer, 26

What it does: Hosts shoe parties with the use of a “mobile shoe store” trailer.

Why it’s watch-worthy: Because the shoe fits: In a year and a half, the shoe party company has grown its revenues by 1,200 percent, expanded to eight franchised units, and is in the process of obtaining a “mobile shoe store” patent.

Number of prior business ideas: “We owned a restaurant, The Juice Press, and we sold it to focus on this business.”

Why this one: “I love shoes, and the party system seemed like the perfect market. Although, people did ask why we were selling a ‘building business’ for something mobile.”

In 2010: “I see us out of Utah and having more franchises.”


Year Founded: 2006  City: Provo

Employees: 18  Industry: Technology/Education

Initial Outside Funding: No

Web site: www.zinch.com

Founders: Brad Hagen, 27; Mick Hagen, 23; 

Sid Krommenhoek, 28

What it does: Provides a forum that helps students promote themselves as they apply for college. Students setup profiles — a la Facebook — which help put a face to test scores. 

Why it’s watch-worthy: Zinch has done its homework. In less than a year, the Web site is being used by more than 400 colleges and 260,000 high school students, and it is represented in all 50 states and more than 160 countries. 

Number of prior business ideas: “Countless. We have an affinity for good technology that makes life simpler.” 

Why this one: Brad and Sid had a business trip to the East Coast and visited Mick at Princeton. Mick casually shared his idea as we lounged over bagels at Panera Bread. “Then he showed us the design for his idea,” Krommenhoek says. “When we saw the sleek design of what would later become our Web site, we knew it was ‘game on.’”

In 2010: “We envision every college and every high school student in the U.S. creating a Zinch profile.”


Year Founded: 2005  City: Springville  

Employees:Industry: Medical

Web site: www.biolynk.com

Founders: Wendy Hendry, 41; Ron Hendry, 43; Richard Davis, 31

What it does: Administrates a program in the health care industry that helps patients earn money while they’re sick and makes it possible so all patients who have contracted an illness can get tested accurately and promptly.

Why it’s watch-worthy: With business and medical backgrounds — and a 439 percent growth rate since its founding — Biolynk has the passion and expertise to succeed. 

Number of prior business ideas: “Several.”

Why this one: “We came back to the business plan, which had an existing market. And we needed to buy groceries.”

In 2010: “We would like to open our own donor center.”


Year Founded: 2008  City: Orem

Employees:Industry: Service

Web site: www.uvdocs.com

Founders: Kent L. Curtis, 36; John Sowards, 54; Wade Jackson, 54

What it does: Manages and stores records — both physical and digital — for businesses.

Why it’s watch-worthy: The young company is looking to set all kinds of records. They are building a technologically advanced 20,000-square-foot, four-story records center, and the partners have impressively managed to start the capital-intensive venture with no debt. 

Number of prior business ideas: “It’s a constant stream.”

Why this one: “It was a good fit with the current business we’re running (Parkway Storage Center in Orem).”

In 2010: “We’d like to be the default records and information management company for Utah County.”


Year Founded: 2006  City: Orem

Employees:Industry: Real Estate

Web site: www.vestedgroup.com

Founders: Chad Bennett, 27

What it does: Delivers a range of investments and services in its core sectors of real estate and information technology. 

Why it’s watch-worthy: With strong leadership (Bennett was voted Investor of the Year by the Utah Valley Real Estate Investors Association) and a stalwart growth rate of 634 percent since its first year of business, Vested Group is on the accelerated track. 

Number of prior business ideas: “Too many to count.”

Why this one: “Motivation from a BYU Education Week class. I was working full time at BYU and I had about $5,000 sitting in the bank. The job was great, but I felt like I was short-changing the entrepreneurial side of me.”

In 2010: “We look to expand our services and expect more than $20 million in revenues by 2010.”


Year Founded: 2006  City: Pleasant Grove

Employees: Industry: Retail, Direct Sales

Web site: www.thereadyproject.com

Founders: Dan Moss, 33; Rich Bliss, 33

What it does: Sells “just add water” food storage meals that can be shipped to houses on a monthly basis. Customers can also host food storage parties. 

Why it’s watch-worthy: The growing concern of food storage coupled with a proven home party business model indicates a “just add time” success strategy. Plus, the company already has a 98 percent shipment-retention rate.

Number of prior business ideas: “At least a dozen.”

Why this one: “The market research confirmed it.”

In 2010: “People will be hosting The Ready Project parties every week in every state.”