In 1988, a group of entrepreneurial supporters and professional service providers gathered at the Entrepreneurs' Forum of Greater Philadelphia to brainstorm about how to highlight the contribution of entrepreneurial companies to the region. The result of this brainstorm was the birth of the Philadelphia 100®, a yearly research project to identify the fastest growing, privately held companies. The original architects of this project included business researcher, Bill Madway, David Thornburgh of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, local venture capitalists, Terry Collison and Tom Penn, and attorney Bill Scari.
The Philadelphia 100 has been an inspiration to other cities and regions throughout the United States. Approximately 10 other cities/regions have consulted with the Philadelphia 100 about how they could start their own 100 list. In 1988, The Philadelphia 100 compiled a list of the Top 25 companies all-time performers for the first 10 years (based on revenues). At that time, that list of performers were contributing $4.4 billion and employing over 35,000 people. When these results are juxtaposed against the performance of the Fortune 500 (which have lost 5 million jobs since 1980 according to the National Commission on Entrepreneurism), the importance of Philadelphia 100 companies to the vibrancy and vitality of the region is readily understood.
In 2004, the Philadelphia 100 Hall of Fame was created as a way of honoring those winners who repeatedly made the list. The criteria for this honor is: any company which makes the Philadelphia 100 list of fastest, growing privately held companies five times or more or any person who holds the position of CEO for two or more Philadelphia 100 companies at the time they appeared on the Philadelphia 100 list of fastest growing, privately held companies five times or more. To date, 43 companies and CEOs into the Philadelphia 100 Hall of Fame have been inducted.