Revenue: $35 million
Industry: Specialty tea stores
The idea is so obvious it's surprising someone hasn't pulled it off before now -- a Starbucks for tea. After all, tea is praised for its health benefits, is more eco-friendly than coffee, and is one of the most economical beverages around. No one knows that better than Teavana, a chain of tea stores that sells 110 varieties of premium loose-leaf teas and tea-related merchandise. CEO Andrew Mack opened his first store in 1997, pledging to create "the only place in America where you can get a decent cup of tea." Now the company has 161 locations in 35 states -- and plans to expand to 500 by 2015, including 19 franchised stores in Mexico. Since 2006, Teavana, which is profitable, has watched its sales grow 73% to $125 million. In April the tea retailer registered for an IPO and is expected to go public in July. It's easy to see why. The specialty-tea industry could grow as much as 8% a year. One challenge ahead is that Teavana plans to sell franchises internationally, and it's hard to do that without sacrificing the company's high standards and brand image. Even so, specialty tea is a $1.3 billion global market ready for disruption, which is just the way CEO Mack likes it.
Update: Teavana had its IPO last week, and shares soared more than 60% on their first day of trading.