Chef Tom Colicchio says entrepreneurs are “the lifeblood of our communities.” Lawyer-turned-influencer Meena Harris calls them “a glimpse of the future.” And Techstars’ CEO Maëlle Gavet believes they are “solving today’s challenges.” The Next 1000 Judges weigh in on Main Street’s engines.
After one of the toughest years on record for the nation’s more than 30 million small businesses, one thing is certain—the American dream is alive and well. Those who weathered the storm pivoted to meet the moment: 95% of owners adapted their businesses in some way, and 50% launched new products, services or sales strategies, according to a recent survey of 10,000 small businesses by Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, millions of Americans searching for jobs or purpose in their newly remote work lives fueled an explosion in entrepreneurship not seen in decades.
With our Next 1000 list, we’re on a year-round mission to shine a spotlight on the intrepid sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups redefining what it takes to build and run a business today. All have less than $10 million in revenue or Series A funding, but infinite drive and hustle.
A panel of over a dozen top business minds and entrepreneurial superstars joined us in evaluating thousands of nominations hailing from every industry and corner of the U.S. The end result: our second installment of 250 up-and-coming businesses that have left us inspired.
Hear from the newest members of our esteemed roster of judges on why small but significant businesses matter and why they joined forces with Forbes for this first-of-its-kind initiative below.
Chef and owner, Crafted Hospitality
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods and communities. It’s important to support and nurture their success. And you never know—any one of these small businesses on the list could end up being traded on the stock market some day.”
President, Goldman Sachs Foundation
Global Head of Corporate Engagement, Goldman Sachs
“Entrepreneurship is about demanding a stake in your own future and doing something about it. Entrepreneurs are doers who may fall seven times but stand up eight.”
Founder and CEO, Phenomenal
New York Times bestselling author
“The Next 1000 is a glimpse of the future: If you haven’t heard their names yet, you will soon. These are the voices, and the visionaries, who will redefine our world. They’re already out there making a difference, doing the work.”
Founder and general partner, CapitalG
“Entrepreneurship is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Most entrepreneurs don’t prevail, but the ones who do have an unparalleled impact on our lives. They are our hope for tackling the most audacious challenges that lie ahead. ”
“Entrepreneurs change the world—and at this moment in time in particular, we need them more than ever. Supporting their creativity and ingenuity in solving today’s challenges through their innovative ideas and companies is pivotal to a better future.”
Founder, 1863 Ventures
“Too often entrepreneurs are portrayed as academic pedigreed, white men with access to capital. And while this may be true, more and more entrepreneurs are breaking outside of this stereotype. They are women. They are members of the LGBT+ community. They are Black and Brown. They are indigenous leaders. They have stories of resilience, and not just privilege.”
Nominations are still open. Send us your story today.