Methodology: How We Created Our List

How do you judge the world's most intriguing companies? There's no clear formula, of course. Still, we tried to bring rigor to the process. After debating the priority of various characteristics, we agreed the most important was having big ideas. Intriguing companies need to have a grand vision that forces you to consider how industries, economies, or the world could be remade. But we didn't want only dreamers. So to qualify, entrepreneurs had to have established a company and gotten some traction. To get the freshest ideas, we limited selection to companies less than three years old and eliminated familiar names.

Then we cast a wide net. Our call for entries over the Web generated hundreds of submissions. To complement the public's input, we reached out to startup advocates, including the Kauffman Foundation, National Venture Capital Assn., and YouNoodle, a Web startup with a database of 50,000 companies. We then used an algorithm developed with YouNoodle that gauged the originality of each company and its progress so far. Disagree with the final 25? Did we leave an important startup out? Let us know in the reader comments section.

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