19. Jill Layfield

CEO of Backcountry.com

Jill Layfield     Photo: Joe Ciardiello

Operates The world’s largest gear site

Backcountry.com has 215,000 products for sale—not counting the stuff at the ten other sites it owns, including Steepandcheap.com and Competitive Cyclist. The company also supports an online community of finicky gearheads who put the stuff to the test, then rate it. Brands like Mountain Hardwear take customer feedback from Backcountry.com into account when they design products. Unassuming CEO Jill Layfield, 37, has seen the revenue jump 744 percent since she came aboard in 2004, thanks to a focus on hardcore users and high-end products. Take the Rossignol Super 7s, a set of boards for big-mountain skiers. In November 2010, Backcountry offered them for sale before they were available to the general public. They sold out in 72 hours.

By the Numbers 300 million: unique site visits Backcountry.com has received this year (through August); 95 million: customer visits REI has received this year (through July)

Second Opinion “While online retailers like Planet Outdoors focused on venture capital and disappeared, Backcountry has been authentic from the beginning,” says John Winsor, an online-community expert and CEO of the crowdsourcing ad firm Victor and Spoils. “It’s easy to do the right thing by your customers if you are a local shop, but they have done that with a colossal global community and stayed authentic.”

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