Start­ing a com­pany based on a mar­ket niche is a par­tic­u­lar risk. You stake your busi­ness on the be­lief that there are peo­ple out there who share the pas­sion, need, or prob­lem that in­spired your prod­uct—and who are also will­ing to pay for it. These five founders took that risk, cre­at­ing com­pa­nies that ex­ploit a slice of an ex­ist­ing mar­ket that was ripe for in­no­va­tion and a fresh ap­proach. Turns out they were right. We wel­come these first-time mem­bers of the Inc. 5000, who prove that some­times a niche can turn out to be a whole lot big­ger than you ever dreamed.

A road map through a murky cor­ner of fi­nance

When Srii Srini­vasan’s call cen­ter com­pany re­ceived a charge­back—the re­ver­sal by a bank or credit card com­pany of a pay­ment, due to a cus­tomer dis­pute— “there was no­body to con­tact, re­ally,” she says. Af­ter months of wad­ing through pa­per­work and nav­i­gat­ing what she calls the “deep, dark, mys­te­ri­ous world of charge­backs,” she suc­ceeded in re­cov­er­ing ev­ery penny her cus­tomer had dis­puted. In 2013, she and her co-founder hus­band, Suresh Dak­shina, re­al­ized they could help on­line mer­chants fight charge­backs with their new­found ex­per­tise. “This is not a sexy part of busi­ness,” she says of the Allen, Texas–based com­pany. Busi­ness own­ers are “think­ing about how to make a profit, how to make a prod­uct good, mar­ket­ing, sales. They don’t want to think about this.”

Pho­to­graph by MICHAEL FRIBERG

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