100 Brilliant Companies

10 Insanely Clever Ways These Companies Grew Their Business

Learn how WeWork went from coworking space to lifestyle business, why Zillow got into the home-flipping game, the reason Outdoor Voices turned to its customers for designs and more.
10 Insanely Clever Ways These Companies Grew Their Business
Image credit: Mario Wagner
Magazine Contributor
6 min read

This story appears in the June 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Growth may be the objective of every business, but no two entrepreneurs ever go about it the same way. Growth strategies can come in endless different forms.

Related: No Joke: How Comedian Kevin Hart Is Building a Brand That Will Outlive His Fame

As part of our 100 Brilliant Companies list, we captured 10 companies approaching growth in 10 totally different ways. But while their approaches may be different, their goal is shared: Create a sustainable business that evolves with the times.

WeWork

WeWork -- the company that provides businesses with shared office space, craft beer and cucumber water -- is often described as a brick-and-mortar version of LinkedIn. But it’s starting to look a lot more like a real-life Facebook. 

In addition to expanding to more than 100 cities in 21 countries, WeWork has been opening gyms, incubators and even elementary schools for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Valued at $21 billion, the company pitches itself as a “lifestyle” and a “community,” facilitating meditation and kickboxing sessions as well as business mentoring and networking. While its offerings initially appealed to scrappy startups, today massive corporations including GE, Mastercard and Samsung make up a quarter of WeWork’s membership.

“The mission of WeWork is to create a world where people can make a life, not just a living,” says co-founder Miguel McKelvey, who along with co-founder Adam Neumann hopes to keep the pace. In October, WeWork purchased Flatiron School, a New York–based coding boot camp, and announced it would expand the program’s offerings overseas, broadening WeWork’s impact on the business world. In addition to generating $1 billion in annual revenue, WeWork now serves as a kind of global lab, generating data on how millennials work, rest, learn and play. (Written by Boyd Farrow)

Outdoor Voices

This spring, the athleisure brand released its first collection of apparel that was designed based on input shared by fans on social media. The response was so enthusiastic (and helpful to the design team) that CEO Tyler Haney now plans to use crowdsourcing as R&D for all collections moving forward, continually introducing and tweaking products to better serve their fast-growing base. 

Domino's

In recent years, Domino’s has undergone a digital makeover, creating an e-commerce experience that far exceeds what you’d expect -- or even really need -- from a pizza company. In the past year, it has partnered with Ford on pilot programs in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Miami to test self-driving cars for pizza delivery. The verdict is still out on how speedy deliveries can get, but it will undoubtedly catch the attention of the next generation of pizza eaters.

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Eaze

In 2017, the marijuana-delivery app used its arsenal of consumer data to launch the subscription-based Brand Insights Program, providing valuable findings to dispensaries and growers. In 2018, it is focused on a slightly larger mission: making marijuana mainstream.  As the legal cannabis industry grows east of California, Eaze is preparing itself for what’s ahead with a heavy focus on increasing its policy team, which will be key to bringing its services -- both delivery and insights -- to the rest of the country.

Related: 10 New Services That'll Make You Say, 'Why Didn't I Think of That?'

A24

The film studio is just six years old, but it’s been responsible for some of the biggest (and most awarded) indie flicks in recent memory, including last year’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight, and this year’s Best Picture nominee Lady Bird. How? By letting the work speak for itself. The company’s founders typically don’t do press, and films are primarily marketed online, helping enthusiasts “discover” the projects and spread the word among friends -- and creating an enthusiastic, loyal fan base along the way. 

Starbucks

This spring, Starbucks started testing digital menu boards that can change throughout the day to promote certain items and even offer dynamic pricing. It’s a play to remind loyal customers that the brand has much more than coffee, and an attempt to boost sales during the post-lunch lull. 

Roam Fitness

The luxury airport gym opened up its first location last year at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and travelers rejoiced. (And exercised!) To keep up with demand, Roam plans to expand to Atlanta, Denver and New York’s JFK, as well as Toronto, Montreal and Dublin among others. Plus, the founders have created a membership program for frequent flyers, with access to rentable Lululemon clothing and top-notch locker room toiletries. 

Airbnb

Why book a hotel when you can browse hostels, mansions, cottages and even whimsical treehouses in one place? It’s the beauty of Airbnb -- but also the problem. As the platform has grown, users have had a harder time finding exactly what they need. So this winter, the company introduced Airbnb Collections, Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb to recategorize listings and quality verification levels, helping hosts and guests connect more quickly and efficiently -- and helping Airbnb attract an even wider audience.

Related: Looking for Great Leadership? These 10 Companies Are Leading the Way.

Bolt Threads

The materials company -- which last year brought bioengineered spider silk to market -- is eager to get its science-backed work in front of consumers. To do so, it recently acquired lifestyle brand Best Made Co. and announced a partnership with fashion designer Stella McCartney, which will come in handy as it aims to bring its second material -- a faux leather made from mushroom roots -- to the everyday fashion enthusiast.

Zillow

The online real estate listing company is looking to cash in on its vast network of properties in a new way: It’s getting into the home-flipping game, purchasing houses in Phoenix and Las Vegas, making fast repairs and updates and putting them right back on the market. It’s a big risk that’s making investors hold their breath -- Zillow stock took a hit when the move was announced -- but the company is confident, with plans to purchase (and resell) between 300 and 1,000 homes this year.

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