Big growth spurts rarely last a long time. Such was the case of last year’s top-revenue growth numbers for the Fantastic 50, an annual list of the fastest-growing private companies in Virginia.
The company with the highest growth rate last year, Ashburn-based Cynet Systems Inc., saw its revenue soar 7,388.7 percent from 2011 to 2014. That was the highest number recorded in the Fantastic 50 since the 2011 list when the top firm had a growth rate of 7,752 percent.
This year the story is different. The top company on the list is Stafford-based Darkblade Systems, whose revenue grew 1,848 percent from 2012 to 2015. That number is 5,541 percentage points lower than Cynet’s performance last year. But that doesn’t mean that the whole group of 50 on this year’s list grew at a slower rate. In fact, the median growth rate of this year’s Fan 50 rose to 281 percent, 55 percentage points higher than the pace seen in last year’s list.
Also, five companies had growth rates of 1,000 percent or more this year, compared with just three in 2016. The more moderate but steady pace of this year’s numbers is reflected in the fact that Cynet is on the list again this year, but it clocks in at 2012-15 growth rate of 798 percent.
Also on this year’s list is Devils Backbone Brewing Co., the leading manufacturing company on the 2016 Fantastic 50. Its return might surprise some people. The company announced last year it was being sold to beer giant Anheuser-Busch, but that deal occurred after the 2012-15 period covered by this year’s list.
In addition to Darkblade Systems, three other companies on the list are being recognized as revenue-growth leaders in their categories. They are:
Northern Virginia companies continued to dominate the Fantastic 50 list, occupying 33 of the 50 spots. Eight companies are from Hampton Roads, while seven are from Central Virginia, and one each are from the Shenandoah Valley and the Northern Neck.
This year’s list was based on revenue growth from 2012 to 2015. To be eligible for the list, a company must of had revenue of at least $200,000 in 2012. It also must have made a profit in 2015 and have revenue of less than $200 million in its most recent fiscal year.
The Fantastic 50 companies were recognized at an awards banquet on April 27 at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles hotel in Chantilly.
The accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman reviews the financial records of the entries to determine the winners. Virginia Business is a sponsor of the Fantastic 50.