CEOs are a different breed. The best ones can juggle responsibilities, inspire their teams, impress investors, take risks and keep their eye on the ball. They are creative and extremely passionate. The 10 CEOs I'm watching this year, from Pamela Springer of Manta, who is creating the go-to online community for small businesses, to Kara Gold of Hint, who's shaking up the beverage industry, exhibit all these characteristics and then some.
Here are the 10 CEOs worth watching as they take their companies to new heights:
Growth Strategist: Matt Maloney, GrubHub
Last year, GrubHub exploded. After having raised $50 million, it tripled in size through a series of acquisitions and now serves over 400 cities and college campuses. In May, GrubHub announced it was merging with Seamless, with plans for Maloney to serve as the CEO of the merged company.
Springer has transformed her company into one of the fastest growing online communities for small business. It now has more than 30 million unique visitors a month and adds over 3,000 new business owners every day.
The anti “Marissa Mayer” CEO: Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs
Embracing the work-from-home trend, FlexJobs has 15,000 jobs from companies looking for people who want to work from home. It used to be that employees asked to work from home—now some companies require it.
The Digital Dating Disruptor: Lori Cheek, Cheek'd.com
You could call Cheek a game changer when it comes to online dating. She's taking her online dating service back to the streets by providing fun and flirty calling cards, which singles can hand out in person, then connect later online.
The former VP of AOL has gone from selling her product out of her kitchen to national distribution in stores such as Whole Foods, Starbucks and Kroger. She has built one of the largest private beverage companies in the country.
The “Challenging the Gorilla” CEO: Chad Laurans, Simplisafe
Laurans had the courage to challenge home security giant ADT, offering his company’s service for less with no annual contract. As a result, company revenues will double to $30 million this year.
The “Young and Still Restless” CEO: Chris Kelly, Convene
Kelly already scored a big startup hit with evoJets; meanwhile, Convene tripled its revenues in 2012 in the offsite meeting space. Kelly now employs over 100 people.
The Master: Debbie Rosas, The Nia Technique
Rosas has been a pioneer in the body-mind fitness industry since 1976. However, freshly launching 50 new master trainers and over 2,000 teachers worldwide, her technique is ready to explode into 42 counties.
The “What-Me-Retire?” CEOs: Rick and Don Strube, SunColor
Not satisfied with selling their family paint business and retiring in their 50s, these brothers started another paint company that quickly grew to a reported $9 million in sales with seven stores.
The “Go Green” CEO: Dr. Mark Laska, Great Ecology
Laska shows that entrepreneurs can build a profitable ecological restoration firm, save clients money and do great things for the environment.
The “My Product is in a Museum” CEO: Todd Greene, HeadBlade
While the company has been around for 13 years, Greene continues to bring out the most innovative products for his “HeadBladers” (customers). In fact, one of them is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Its new revolutionary product looks allows you to shave your head with a miniature ATV.
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