Microsoft was founded in the inflationary environment of the mid-1970s. Adobe started in the depths of the 1982 recession. The most recent financial crisis of 2008 led to a wave of successful companies from Airbnb to Square.

That year, 2008, was also the first year Fast Company chronicled the World’s Most Innovative Companies. It was a fortuitous time to begin to spotlight companies growing their businesses, remaking their industries, and changing the world of business and society at large. Times of uncertainty are when businesses can often best buck the economic trends with better products that engage customers who need them most.

My colleagues and I now spend all year identifying the companies we think might merit recognition. The companies that participate in our submission program and apply for consideration are an essential aspect of our process to scour the world for the best of the best.

I have had the privilege to meet with the leaders of scores of organizations that have been named a Most Innovative Company by Fast Company, both before and after their recognition. These are the things they’ve told me as far as why they participated—and the value that accrued from doing so. Our application period is open, and here’s why you should participate in Most Innovative Companies 2023:

Unlock your talent potential

I’ll never forget one email I received from a representative of one of the companies we’d just put on the Most Innovative Companies list. Embedded in the note was a photo of every employee of the company, standing on the floor of its manufacturing facility, wearing a Fast Company MIC T-shirt. Every member of that team felt proud and excited for the validation that Fast Company’s story conferred on their work.

In conversations with so many CEOs, they tell us that talent is their biggest issue: recruiting the best people, retaining them, motivating them. And being selected as one of the Most Innovative Companies, they believe, can be a meaningful catalyst in all of these efforts. To work at one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies means that this is a business with a mission and purpose larger than merely making money. It means it’s a company with the ability to get things done at a cadence that can further those goals.

Turbocharge your storytelling

The other thing most CEOs care about, particularly of privately held companies, is capital. Building the future requires funding—to hire the best talent and to deal with whatever expenditures are necessary to achieve their vision. While there is not a direct cause and effect between being recognized as a Most Innovative Company and successful fundraising, it is precisely the kind of signal that communicates to investors that your products and services are resonating with consumers and the public.

See how others see the value in your work

When working on the Most Innovative Companies, the single best compliment we’ve received from honorees—and I am proud to say, we’ve received it multiple times—is that Fast Company explained our company and what we do better than we ever could. That ability to communicate and synthesize often complex ideas for greater understanding is a hallmark of good journalism. It also has the catalyzing effect of energizing employees and supercharging their ability to tell their own story, to recruit the best talent, and to woo investors.

Join a community

Most Innovative Company honorees are now part of Fast Company’s larger community. These are the companies we turn to first to identify speakers for events, such as the MIC Summit and Fast Company Innovation Festival, among others. They’re the companies we look to for other story opportunities throughout the year. They’re the ones whose forthcoming news will merit heightened consideration for coverage. In addition, the leaders of these companies often connect with one other, amplifying their individual efforts to create even more innovation and positive change in the world.


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