Ann Arbor SPARK announced the winners of the 2020 FastTrack Awards, honoring 19 high-growth local companies, at a virtual awards ceremony held last Friday as part of the online A2Tech360 event.
The FastTrack Awards are designed for Washtenaw and Livingston county businesses that fall under the definition of a "gazelle company." This year's FastTrack Award recipients were required to have had a minimum revenue base of at least $100,000 in 2016 and to have demonstrated 20% increased average revenue for the following three years.
Due to the nature of gazelle companies being characterized by revenue rather than size, the awards are open to both startups and long-established businesses. Companies may apply for every year that they qualify, and every company that is verified by SPARK's accounting partner receives an award.
FastTrack awards are presented in categories according to the number of years that a company has qualified. This year there are nine one-year award-winners from various industries. Among them are the Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce and the 160,000-plus square foot cooperative entrepreneurial space MI-HQ. The two-year category has four winners, making it the second-largest bracket in 2020. Among the winners is The Really Useful Information Co. (TRUiC), a media company that helps people start their own businesses by providing simple guides and tools. The Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company also earned an award in this category. Another notable winner is LLamasoft. The company, which creates AI-powered supply chain analytics software, has won a FastTrack Award for 13 consecutive years.
Alex West, SPARK's director of research, says 2020 was "one of the bigger years" in regards to the number of companies that participated in the awards.
"I was very heartened that so many companies applied this year and wanted to celebrate their success," West says. "It was a very positive moment for everybody involved in the awards."
She adds that SPARK had some reservations about whether or not to hold the awards this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"2020 is a dumpster fire that we're living in and we had a lot of trepidation about offending people," West says. "We didn't want to necessarily raise the torch of all these successful companies."
But West's reservations dissipated while watching last Friday's virtual awards ceremony. Staff from each company filmed themselves opening their awards and sharing their excitement. West recalls her mood lifting from "a general five to a solid 12 on a scale of 10."
"Even though the awards were based on things that happened in the past, it gave us an excuse to focus on the positives," she says. "We all needed the reminder that good things are happening and will continue to happen for our local companies."
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.