OREM — For some time, Utah County has been considered one of the fertile fields of growth for some of the state's brightest entrepreneurial minds. Many of those minds were honored for their efforts in creating some of the fasting growing companies in Utah.
More than two dozen "up-and-coming" firms were recognized Thursday at the “Top 25 Under 5” awards — an annual event that began 12 years ago acknowledging the most successful startups — 5 years or younger — throughout the state.
The awards were presented by the Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum — a volunteer nonprofit support and networking group linking entrepreneurs to money, markets and mentors. The finalists were determined by revenue growth and job creation.
The top finisher was a company headquartered in American Fork called OrangeSoda — an online marketing firm that began five years ago with three people in a room and now boasts nearly 200 employees.
When the company started, people were still unfamiliar with the concept of Internet marketing, according to Dan Garfield, manager of online marketing for OrangeSoda. Today, thousands of "mom and pop" local businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities that exist using the Utah-based company's expertise.
"With online marketing, a lot of it seems technical and kind of daunting for people," Garfield said. "One of the things that has made us really successful is that we make online marketing really easy for people."
Among the other companies honored was Provo-based Qivana — a network marketing firm that distributes nutritional supplements and products — who was third on the list of 25 finalists. Since 2008, the company has seen its revenues grow 150 percent over its first full year of operation, according to accounting director Josh Gagon.
"We've gone from five employees sitting back to back in one room to 30 people," he said. The long-term strategy of the company is to continue to grow and help more people lead healthier lives through Qivana products, he added.
Over the years, UVEF’s Top 25 Under 5 Awards have recognized the development of more than 200 individuals and companies, a release stated. This year’s "Top 25" created a combined 800 jobs and brought in nearly $190 million in revenue in 2010, a release stated.
The awards luncheon was held on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, with Omniture co-founder John Pestana delivering the keynote address.