Four retailers, plus a few retail-adjacent companies, landed on LinkedIn's 2018 list of top 50 U.S. startups, according to a report released Thursday. Beauty retailer Glossier was highest on the list at number 8, with sneaker retailer Allbirds following at 29, Away smart luggage at 30 and Lululemon challenger Outdoor Voices at 43.
Supply chain startup Flexport (number 13) and trucking startup Convoy (32) also appear, as did Ron Johnson's tech sales and service company Enjoy, at number 38. To be eligible for this list, companies had to be seven years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, and be privately held and headquartered in the U.S.
Separately, Inc. magazine released its 2018 Inc. 5000 List on Thursday of the fastest growing companies, which included 188 retail companies. The top 10 fastest growing retail companies on the list were: Thinx, Figs, Brooklinen, Trupet, NEU, Pawstruck, Amaryllis Apparel, Peloton, Love Your Melon and Need/Want.
Retail is one of humanity's oldest professions, but a few startups and fast-growing new entrants are proving that there's plenty of room for innovation and growth.
Given its membership, LinkedIn's focus is mostly on personnel and its list is based in part on "which startups are commanding the attention and working hours of top talent," according to a blog post on the site by LinkedIn Editor in Chief Daniel Roth.
To compile the list, the social media networking site said it analyzed "billions of actions" by its 575 million members between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, focusing on four areas:
- employee growth (a percentage headcount increase over a year, which had to reach a minimum 15%);
- job interest, the rate at which people are viewing and applying to jobs, both paid and unpaid;
- member engagement with each company and its employees, including non-employee views and follows of the company's LinkedIn page plus how many non-employees viewed employees at that startup;
- and how the startups found talent via the site's top companies list.
The site also noted stand-out particulars about each startup. Glossier, for example, is "bucking the trend of a surprisingly male-dominated industry," with women the majority of both its staff and board, the latter of which includes Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake. Glossier and Stitch Fix both made LinkedIn's most disruptive companies list last year. And at Ron Johnson's four-year-old Enjoy, which has taken a page from Best Buy's Geek Squad but is targeting the higher end of the market, employees can choose their own hours each week, as long as they work 40 hours, Roth noted.
And as many others have noted, Outdoor Voices, while aiming for sales in a space dominated by Lululemon, is working to appeal to more casual active enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Flexport and Convoy are operating in one of the most challenging areas of retail these days, the supply chain and delivery demands spurred by the growth of e-commerce.
"Will these companies continue with their explosive growth and world-changing work?" Roth wrote. "That's in the hands of the talent flocking to these startups."
The Inc. magazine list ranks companies based solely on percentage revenue growth from 2014 to 2017. The companies that made the list posted significant gains — Thinx grew 10,924%, Figs, 9,948%, Brooklinen 9,154% and Trupet 6,754%. The companies that made the retail top 10 operate in a broad range of sectors, including three apparel companies, two pet supply companies, high-end bedding and home accessories and fitness equipment. Many of the companies sell direct to consumer.