2017 Startups To Watch


Founded 2014 City LehiEmployees 215 Industry Technology Website Podium.com Founder Eric Rea The Company A software platform powering the modern relationship between businesses and their customers. 

YOUNG + HUNGRY Podium is changing the conversation. Its stellar, seamless software helps businesses engage with consumers, leading to more than 100,000 users, 600% YOY growth, and more than $36 million in funding from companies like Accell and Summit Partners.

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if you started your company in a spare bedroom,” Rea says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS “We are a very goal-driven people. Here are the values we live by.” 1. Be real. Be honest. Be transparent. “We despise passive aggressiveness.” 2. Murder drama. “We don’t tolerate politics or drama.” 3. Be a founder. “Come into Podium like it’s your own company. 4. Delight the customer. “We stole that one from Disney.” 5. Enjoy the ride. 

FUN FACT, SIR “We don’t really have competition. We have people who compete with us on the review side, and people who compete with us on the texting and engagement side. But there is no competitor who does everything we do.”

WORK! WORK! “Make sure your product can do what your sales people say it does.” 


Founded 2015 City Alpine Employees 700 Industry Manufacturing/Retail Website OnPurple.com CEO Sam Bernards, 40 The Company A creator and manufacturer of hyper-elastic polymer mattresses, pillows, sheets and seat cushions.  

YOUNG + HUNGRY Color us impressed. With nearly $200 million in sales, 700 employees, 11,000-plus 5-star customer reviews, 57 granted and pending patents, and 500 million video views that just won’t quit, Purple is setting up shop in dream town. 

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if you have that passion, that drive, that hustle,” Bernards says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Help 1 billion people to feel better when they sleep, sit and stand. 2. Bring more manufacturing jobs back to Utah. 3. Keep fostering a culture of innovation, kindness and tenacity. 

FUN FACT, SIR Truckers have nicknamed their Purple seat cushions “Bubba.”

WORK! WORK! “Figure out why you want to grow,” Bernards says. “The reason you exist will affect every aspect of your company. If you’re simply trying to grow your business for accolades or an exit strategy, it will impact the way employees feel about their jobs. At Purple we are all committed to helping people feel better. We all know that mission and try to achieve it in everything we do.”


City American Fork Founded 2016 Employees 40 Industry Customer engagement Website Skipio.com Founders Nick Greer, 40; Randy Garn, 42.  The Company A sales communication platform that connects companies and customers through next-gen business texting technology.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Skipio is skipping along nicely. The texting technology company is led by Nick Greer, founder of another former UV50 company, One on One Marketing. What’s more, it has grown month over month during the first year and a half, and it now has more than 3,000 clients, including doTERRA, RE/MAX, Aflac, Allstate and more. 

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if the question is, ‘How many hours a day do I NOT work?’” Greer says. “During startup mode, I don’t see my amazing wife and children as much during the week.”

FUN FACT, SIR Skipio is headquartered in a renovated sawmill in American Fork. One of the conference rooms is named the “Rudy Room” for Rudy Ruettiger, who is a friend of the Skipio founders. A piece of Yankee Stadium’s center field fence fills an upstairs wall. The main-floor shared work space includes an old ski lift gondola in the corner, and a 46-star American Flag hangs between the second and third floors of Skipio. 

WORK! WORK! “Your idea today will never be your idea tomorrow. Always be prepared for change.”


City Provo Founded 2015 Employees 2,500 Industry Environmental services Website GoAptive.com Founder David Royce, 40 The Company A provider of environmentally responsible pest solutions.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Aptive Environmental hit the startup ground soaring. It did $37 million in revenue last year, and is on track to do $80 million in 2017. It expands into 100-plus new cities annually. Its proprietary technology and training programs are state-of-the-art. Its office is more like a tech company with its NCAA-size basketball court and golf simulator. Its products are cutting edge and environmentally responsible. And it has partnered with the United Nations’ Nothing But Nets campaign. 

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if you find yourself at work at 10 p.m. ordering pizza for the team,” Royce says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Research and implement new environmentally responsible methods. 2. Expand into additional service lines. 3. Become the largest privately-held pest control service in North America by 2020.

FUN FACT, SIR “We pay our team members for new ideas that get implemented nationwide, so many of our best ideas come from frontline employees,” Royce says.

WORK! WORK! “Build a culture around top performance. Focus determines outcome.”


Founded 2014 City Orem Employees 15 Industry Software/recognition Website Awardco.com Founders Steve Sonnenberg, 36; Tanner Runia, 28 The Company A technology-based platform focused on employee recognition and making it more affordable for companies to extend incentives and recognition to employees.

YOUNG + HUNGRY An old school industry needed a new-school spin. Enter Awardco. Its employee recognition platform is cutting edge and simple for companies to use. Awardco has clients in 54 countries and supports 40 different languages. In 2016, it finalized a partnership with Amazon, and Awardco now streams 680 million products from Amazon, 50,000 hotel choices from Priceline, and $20 million worth of ticket events directly on the its platform.

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if your favorite day of the week is Monday and your wardrobe is 50 percent company T-shirts,” Sonnenberg says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Process $1 billion through Amazon Business. 2. Establish a European office to continue global expansion efforts. 3. Give all employees at Awardco a big raise.

WORK! WORK! “Pay attention to finances. You can’t always go off your gut.” 


Founded 2014 City American Fork Employees 400 Industry Solar energy Website BlueRavenSolar.com Founders Ryan Lee, 44; Jeff Lee, 43; Tyson Peschke, 34 The Company A provider of solar energy in the residential market.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Hello, sunshine. In its short life, Blue Raven Solar has grown to be the No. 11 solar company in the nation (measured by install volume). It did $18 million in revenue in 2016, and has a whole lot of firsts: first company to push the purchase option for solar; first company to push outside of the “Big 6” states in the solar industry; and first company to offer differentiated solar products.

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if your office space is lovingly referred to as ‘The Dungeon’ because you don’t know if it’s 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. and there are no windows in your space to give you a hint,” Ryan says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Be a top 5 solar company in the nation. 2. Be the best direct-sales solar company. 3. Make a meaningful difference in our employees’ and customers’ lives.

FUN FACT, SIR “A few months back we had a potential shooter in the building (luckily not our company), so we just stayed inside and ordered pizza for 100 people!” 

WORK! WORK! “If you find a way to ramp sales quickly, be ready to scale operations just as fast.”


Founded 2013 City Provo Employees 350 Industry Food + beverage Website MySodalicious.com Founders Kevin Auernig, 39; Anne Auernig, 38 The Company A chain of soda and cookie shops.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Pop goes the company! Sodalicious splashed onto the scene in 2013 and now has 18 stores and two bakeries (it’s the only soda shop that makes its own cookies). Additional stores and expansions are already in the works, and this year they will bake their one millionth cookie.

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if you just barely took your first vacation in three years,” Kevin says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Increase profitability. 2. Open in new markets. 3. Expand our market share. “We’ll open five more stores by the end of the year, making it 12 opened this year alone.”

FUN FACT, SIR “We have a soda prom for our employees every year.”

WORK! WORK! “Don’t cut corners. Get clear on where you want to go and make progress every day.”


Founded 2014 City Provo EmployeesIndustry Retail/fashion Website TaftClothing.com Founders Kory Stevens, 28; Mallory Stevens, 25 The Company A direct-to-consumer designer men’s shoe company.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Taft has given the men’s fashion world a kick of innovation. It’s sold more than 25,000 pairs of shoes this year alone, it’s grown to more than 350,000 followers on Instagram, and the company received a valuation of $15 million.

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if the founder is responding to customer service emails and calls from his personal phone number seven days a week,” Kory says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Maintain the “mom-and-pop” vibe as they scale. 2. Build to $100 million in annual revenue within three to five years. 3. Keep designing and producing unique offerings in the industry.

FUN FACT, SIR “We actually launched our shoe line totally unexpectedly over Sunday dinner at my parents’ house,” Kory says. “Glad I brought my laptop to dinner! Also, all of our shoes are named after family members or characters from movies.”

WORK! WORK! “Avoid comparing your company to other companies. Never compare your beginning to another company’s middle or end.”


Founded 2016 City Orem Employees 65 Industry Software Website JarvisVentures.com Founders Mike Tingey, 28; Steve Vincent, 28 The Company A startup incubator that takes ideas and builds them into companies with the use of its software.

YOUNG + HUNGRY Startup your engines, because this incubator is heating up. Jarvis currently has three sellable offerings: Sahara Development, Olumo and Lightbulb. And in the past year, it went from 10 employees to 65 and $236,000 in revenue to $3.1 million. By the end of this year, it is projected to close on more than $5 million. 

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if when you think it can’t get worse, it does. And … then it gets worse after that,” Tingey says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. 100 employees in FY18. 2. $10 million in revenue in FY18. 3. Launch a self sustaining subsidiary in FY18.

FUN FACT, SIR “We measure our company size by the number of Chick-fil-A trays we have to order,” Vincent says.

WORK! WORK! “Innovation requires constraints. Learn to love your constraints and make them work for you,” Tingey says. 


Founded 2014 City Provo Employees 9 Industry Retail/children’s fashion Website LouLouandCompany.com Founders Karen Klakring, 29; Jeff Klakring, 33 The Company A baby blanket and accessory shop.

YOUNG + HUNGRY What started as a baby blanket mission for a new mom has turned into full-fledged business with nearly 2,000% growth and customers in 37 countries. Lou Lou is the creator of the knit swaddle blanket, and has expanded to offer bows and other accessories. 

SCRAPPY “You know you’re a startup if every day you look at the list of 10 things that absolutely NEED to happen that day, and you decide on three or four,” Karen says.

JUST YOU WAIT GOALS 1. Have enough inventory to not sell out of new products the day they launch. 2. Donate a thousand swaddle blankets to babies in the NICU in 2018. 3. Figure out how to get eight hours of sleep every night. (“Gotta dream big, right?”)

FUN FACT, SIR “One of Lou Lou’s first products was a handmade chandelier that took about 20 hours to make and we sold for $80. It has since been discontinued — and we only sold one, thankfully.”

WORK! WORK! “There are no awards for the companies that spend the most money. When you are starting out, don’t worry about hiring the most exclusive photographers, throwing extravagant influencer dinners, or creating a magazine-worthy office. Be scrappy!”

THE FINE PRINT The Startups to Watch list was selected from a pool of applicants with less than four years of operating history. The winners were determined by BusinessQ’s editorial board.