Hazen’s Angel Dough leads local firms on Inc. list

Andrew Hazen: Think big.

By GREGORY ZELLER // A Hicksville investment firm that cracked the top 100 and a Holbrook website-development firm has leapt into the top third are among the Long Island companies leading the charge into Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies.

Hicksville’s Angel Dough Ventures ranked No. 72 on the annual rundown of the country’s most fruitful private firms. Inc. tracked company development between 2012 and 2014 to assemble this year’s list, and reported 4,063 percent growth for Chief Executive Officer Andrew Hazen’s incubator/accelerator, which boasted 2014 revenues eclipsing $6.9 million.

While he’s “ecstatic and pleased” to be on the Inc. fastest-growing list, Hazen noted this is not the first time Inc. has recognized one of his ventures. His former company, Melville organic search firm Prime Visibility, made the list in 2007 and 2008.

Hazen left the company in late 2011 to launch Angel Dough Ventures, which generates revenue through two units: bobblehead doll-maker allbobbleheads.com and online bargain hunter greatdailydeals.com, which locates the best prices for popular products on major-league retail sites including Staples.com and Overstock.com.

Just three years after launching Angel Dough Ventures, Hazen is back on Inc.’s fastest-growing radar.

“This is what happens when you have a really good idea and a great team around you to execute it,” the entrepreneur told Innovate LI.

Inc.’s list was headed by Ultra Mobile, a Costa Mesa-based national telecommunications provider with offices in Long Island City. One of four California firms in the list’s top five slots, Ultra Mobile racked up $118.2 million in 2014 revenues and a 100,449 percent three-year growth rate.

While California ruled Inc.’s roost, New York State fared well also. Seven Empire State companies were among Inc.’s 100 fastest-growers, topped by No. 7 StartApp, a New York City-based mobile advertising network that grew 22,036 percent over the three-year span and reported 2014 revenues of $37.2 million.

A total of nine Long Island firms were sprinkled among the 5,000, including information technology consultant IIT of Melville (No. 159); accessibility provider Centerspan Medical of Bay Shore (No. 186); Hicksville software and hardware-support provider The Geekz (No. 1,263); Amicus Creative Media of Port Washington, a digital marketing provider for law firms (No. 1,415); and Cedarhurst online furniture retailer Renegade Furniture Group (No. 1,456).

Other Long Island firms joining the list were Melville title services company 1st Equity Title & Closing Services (No. 1,543) and Tunnel Hill Partners, a Jericho-based waste management provider (No. 1,934).

Leaping into the list’s upper-third echelon was Holbrook’s Hedgehog Development, which helps entertainment, travel, finance and other companies build up their digital presence and capabilities. The firm ranked No. 1,676, recording $7.1 million in 2014 revenues and a three-year growth rate of 243 percent. Between 2012 and 2014, Hedgehog also added 28 employees.

Landing in the top third of the Inc. list is “pretty exciting,” according to Hedgehog Development cofounder and CEO Dan Galvez.

“It’s a great way to help get the team excited about the growth and get the company out in front of the market,” said Galvez, who along with partner Peter Madsen, the firm’s CFO, launched Hedgehog Development in 2007 to help commercial clients engage customers with new web strategies.

Now boasting 45 employees spread across its Long Island headquarters and offices in Charlotte, NC, Portland, Ore., and Bulgaria, the company has an impressive client list including Fortune 100 companies.

Hedgehog Development is performing website-consolidation projects for major-league clients Tyson Foods and Dow Chemicals, Galvez noted, among other high-profile work – not bad for a company that “doesn’t even have a sales team,” the president said.

The company wound up in Bulgaria through happenstance. Interviewing potential interns at Dowling College, the partners were struck by a Bulgarian student who came to the interview well-dressed and followed up with a thank-you email, and hired him. The intern subsequently recommended another Bulgarian student, who was hired, and also introduced Hedgehog Development to his brother, who still lives in Bulgaria, holds an MBA and speaks five languages.

“We were very impressed,” Galvez noted.

Six years later, the former intern is now a senior member of a company that, led by Galvez, Madsen and partners Brian Cronin and Charles Turano, is in big-time growth mode. Hedgehog Development is expanding its Holbrook headquarters by 11,000 square feet and taking another 4,000 square feet in Charlotte, as well as another floor in its Bulgarian office building, where the former intern’s brother manages European operations.

The plan is to add up to 20 full-time employees across the myriad offices in the next year, Galvez said, and to grow revenues – on target to eclipse $10 million this year – to $15 million by 2016.

The secret of Hedgehog Development’s success, the president added, has been “committing to our clients’ success.”

“We make sure we are completely vested in them being successful,” Galvez said. “That allows us to be successful.”

While Glavez and Madsen, both Dowling graduates, have no immediate plans to move Hedgehog Development’s headquarters off Long Island, Galvez did cite long-term fears about the cost of doing business on the Island and limited growth opportunities.

“We cannot grow fast enough here on Long Island,” he said. “That’s why we have offices in Charlotte and Portland.”

However, the partners – longtime Long Island entrepreneurs who previously launched Hauppauge tech firm Ruby Digital – have been “generating a ton of revenue for the local economy” for 15 years, Galvez added, and plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

“We’re doubling the size of our Long Island headquarters and just signed a seven-year lease extension,” he said. “We are Long Island, born and raised.”