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Entrepreneur's 100 Brilliant Companies -- 2013 Companies that are identifying and solving the problems we face every day.

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We talk a lot about ideas: what inspires them, how to act on them. But it's really quite simple: The best ones come from just going about our lives -- encountering, then attempting to resolve, both major obstacles and quotidian annoyances.

Our choice of categories for this year's Brilliant 100 reflects this. This feature has always skewed digital, heavy on apps, online platforms and social networking. Now those technologies are a given--they're ingrained in all we do, informing everything from how we work to how we eat to how we love. So this year, we have turned our focus to the ways in which the digital realm affects lifestyles, with categories on ideas that benefit city dwellers, rural folk, office workers and the environmentally minded (and who among us isn't?). We also take a look at ideas revolving around human interaction, in the literal sense of dating/connection and in that most intriguing new method of innovation: crowdsourcing.

The companies featured here have turned brilliant ideas into business solutions. Here's hoping you'll do the same.

SUSTAINABILITY

The Serial Entrepreneur Who Is Tackling E-Waste With EcoATMs

Automated kiosks that buy back used electronics aim to ease the electronic waste burden and put cash in consumers' pockets.

The Serial Entrepreneur Who Is Tackling E-Waste With EcoATMs


LOVE / CONNECTING

A Privacy App That Ensures Personal Data Really Disappears

Wickr gives users the ability to send self-destructing files securely and anonymously.


INVENTION

MakerBot's 3-D Printers Lead the Hardware Revolution

Smaller, less expensive 3-D printers are unlocking the ability for more people to be part of the maker movement.


FOOD / BEVERAGE

The Cloud-Based Startup Making Waves in Wine Country

Napa Valley tastemakers are giving traditional wine sellers a run for their money.


WORK LIFE

A Company That Makes User Analytics Simple

KISSmetrics has crunched customer data for AOL, Foursquare, Microsoft, and other major companies.


GAMING

The Startup Bringing Video Games into the Real World

The video game of the future just might remind you of toys of the past. Sifteo cubes give tactile appeal to technology.


CROWDSOURCING / COLLABORATION

GitHub Is Helping Companies Work Together by Crowdsourcing Software

The online hosting service makes it easy for millions of developers to create and share software projects.


SPORTS / RECREATION

An Analytics Platform That Has Mastered Sports Predictions

NumberFire has built data models that have outdone the experts at ESPN.

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Editor's Pick

Leadership

How to Spot the Perfect Executive for Your Company

Hiring senior talent to run a team is a crucial moment in the story and trajectory of a company. Whether you need to hire senior talent now or are looking to gather insights for the future, it's important to be prepared for a gap in a crucial leadership position.

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Growing a Business

How a Local Greek Restaurant Seized Opportunities and Won a New Food Network Competition

After starting as a food truck in 2014, Think Greek has evolved into an award-winning restaurant by creating innovative menu items and taking advantage of opportunities that extend its audience reach.

Starting a Business

Your Business Will Never Succeed If You Overlook This Key Step

A comprehensive guide for startups to achieve and maintain product-market fit through thorough market research, iterative product development and strategic scaling while prioritizing customer feedback and agility.

Side Hustle

This Former Disney Princess Lived 'Paycheck to Paycheck' Before Starting a Side Hustle at Home — Now She Makes $250,000 a Year

Victoria Carroll's income was "sporadic" until a friend encouraged her to take her talents to Fiverr in 2018.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.