Michael Pittman recognized a need four years ago to sell companies mobile devices tailored to their requests.
He started Connected Solutions Group in 2015 to fill a gap between wireless carriers wanting to sell devices and the manufacturers making them flexible enough for everyone’s needs. Many companies wanted customized devices.
“I saw an opportunity to do something a little different and took the leap and went out on my own,” Pittman said. “All three parties benefit from us being involved because ... we eliminate the pain points.”
His budding national company sold $23.3 million last year in tablets, mobile phones and data devices customized along with a suite of services for thousands of companies nationwide. That helped his business post revenue growth of 12,701% from 2015 to 2018.
That revenue growth landed Connected Solutions Group at No. 8 on this year’s Inc. 5000, an annual list published by Inc. magazine of the 5,000 fastest-growing, privately held businesses in the United States measured by revenue growth. The Inc. 5000 list was published online Wednesday.
Hanover County-based Connected Solutions Group is the highest-ranked business among 42 companies based in the Richmond region to make the Inc. 5000 list this year. The company also is the fastest-growing business among the 295 firms with headquarters in Virginia.
“It was pretty surprising to be that high,” Pittman said. “It is very energizing for us as a group. Because of the culture, we make the results and push the needle.”
The company has grown from a handful of workers when the business started in 2015 to about 80 workers now, including about 50 working at the company’s offices off Meadowbridge Road. An additional 10 employees work in a customer support center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and 13 sales personnel are scattered around the country,
“I am comfortable taking the risks because I have a staff here who will do whatever it takes to do a complex need for a customer,” the Hermitage High School graduate said.
Two other area companies made the coveted Inc. 100 list.
Landing at No. 27 on the list is Colonial Heights-based FITT Scientific LLC, which was started in 2013 by career Army officers. The company offers engineering technical services, including infrastructure, robotics, operational support and education services.
It had 2018 revenue of $15.8 million and a three-year growth rate of 7,329%.
West Creek Financial, a Henrico County-based point-of-sale financing firm, ranked 65th on the list with $89.7 million in revenue last year and a 4,405% three-year growth rate.
It is the first time in recent memory that the Richmond area had that many firms ranked in the top 100, including having one in the top 10.
Eighteen companies, including Connected Solutions Group, FITT Scientific and West Creek Financial, are newcomers to the list this year. Other newbies include Spinnaker Consulting Group, Vape Guys, Gather Workspaces and Baskervill.
The remaining 24 businesses made repeat appearances, including three that have been on the list for more than 10 years.
A year ago, 28 businesses from the Richmond region landed on the list.
“The increase of Richmond [area] companies on the Inc. 5000 list is impressive and demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit is thriving locally and, more importantly, being supported by our larger employers and a collaborative support system,” said Richard Wintsch, the executive director of Startup Virginia, the business incubator in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom area that has attracted dozens of startup companies as members.
“We see high-growth businesses start and scale every day and I look forward to them joining the list in the future,” he said.
Jay Markiewicz, executive director of entrepreneurship programs at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, said there has been a unified and coordinated effort to support businesses, particularly new ventures, in the region in order to have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The Inc. 5000 results legitimize the efforts of the community and founders/owners as we all work together to make Richmond, Virginia, a commitment to business success,” Markiewicz said.
Three Richmond-area companies have made the Inc. 5000 list more than 10 times, while five other businesses have been on the list five or more years.
CapTech Ventures, a Henrico-based management and technology consulting firm founded in 1997, has made the list 13 times since 2002, the most of any Richmond-area firm. This year, it ranked No. 3,858 with $192.4 million in revenue last year. Its three-year growth rate was 86%.
Advertising and marketing firm Taradel, ranked No. 4451 with $18.1 million in revenue, has been on the list for 12 years.
Dominion Payroll, a payroll and human resource services company founded in 2002, has been on the list for 10 years. The company, which generated $17.7 million in revenue last year, was No. 3,279 on the list with a three-year growth rate of 110%.
On the list for five or more years are The Hilb Group, ProfitOptics, NetSearch Digital Marketing, Mosquito Squad and Morton.
Virginia had 295 companies on this year’s Inc. 5000, ranking the state No. 5 behind California (712), Texas (467), Florida (385) and New York (300).
Inc. magazine said the combined 5,000 companies generated $237.7 billion in revenue last year, with the average revenue of $47.5 million and median three-year growth rate of 157.4%.
The overall fastest-growing company on the Inc. 5000 is Freestar, a Phoenix-based company that works with businesses to build brand awareness and establish marketing campaigns. The company, founded in 2015, had revenue of $36.9 million in 2018 and a three-year growth rate of 36,680%.