Small Business


Meet the entrepreneurs behind this year's five winning U.S. businesses, as selected by readers

Back in August, we kicked off our second annual search for the most promising businesses started by young people in the U.S., asking readers to nominate their favorite candidates, ages 25 and under.

We were searching for the kinds of startup success stories that could only be conceived by fearless, smart entrepreneurs. We also wanted to chronicle a trend: entrepreneurs skewing younger and younger, motivated by high-profile examples like Google's (GOOG) agreement to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion, thousands of courses and resources offered by colleges and universities and nonprofits nationwide, and peers' and parents' recognition that entrepreneurship is indeed a viable career path.

More than 300 people nominated their best bets, which editors narrowed down to 25 impressive finalists. Each had established businesses with potential and determined ways to operate on a shoestring, forgoing traditional advertising, taking advantage of telecommuting, even offshoring. Their profiles were posted in the Best Entrepreneurs Under 25 Special Report at the end of October (see, 10/30/06, "Young, Fearless, and Smart").

Range of Businesses

Readers voted online for their favorites through mid-November. When the dust settled, almost 50,000 votes had been cast.

The winners' businesses ranged from in-game advertising to credit-card processing to custom jewelry retailing. All of them had found a way to improve an existing service or create a new one, building a strong Web presence, harnessing inexpensive technology, and staying focused on creating a clear revenue stream and a scalable business model.

Congratulations to all.

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