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10 Hot Startups Why these independents made us say 'Wow!' Learn how yours can, too.

A "hot" startup company isn't the entrepreneurial equivalent of a winning lottery ticket. Probe a bit beneath the surface, and what you'll find is a combination of creativity, determination, hard work, great products and services--not to mention a strategy that produces rapid growth. They are the companies that capture the hearts and minds of their potential customers and, with them, that indispensable thing called market share. They're invariably run by men or women with an eye for sustainability--and expansion. The list runs the gamut of sectors. Some have venture capital money behind them; most were bootstrapped. Some are service companies. A few are manufacturers. Others are retailers. And while we routinely receive news of hot startups, and it's usually impossible to compare apples to oranges--or in the case of this list, apps to beer--these 10 independents, with their fast-paced success and future potential, are the ones that made even our seasoned staff and contributors say, "Wow!"

1. Cigar City Brewery
Tampa, Fla.
Founded: 2007

Self-described "beer geek and home brewer" Joey Redner had been around craft breweries for years. He had worked for both a craft beer brewery and an importer. He wrote a column about craft beer for the St. Petersburg Times. And, all the while, he thought about what it would be like to run his own enterprise. In a city the size of Tampa, it was only a matter of time before someone opened up a local craft brewery--and in 2007, he decided to be the one to do so. Using local flavors like guava and high-end ingredients, Cigar City Brewery's brews are more expensive, but have caught on far beyond the Tampa city limits. "We have a great demand in the northeast. People from Philadelphia were calling their relatives in Tampa and asking them to get our beer," says Redner. Launching a beer company is no easy task, but those thirsty customers have driven up brewing volume tremendously: The company sold about 1,000 barrels in 2009. By the end of the first quarter of 2010, it had already exceeded that threshold and was on pace to sell more than that per quarter throughout the year, marking more than a 400 percent growth in 12 months.

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