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SoPost, which helps some of the world’s biggest brands run effective sampling campaigns, appears in the ranking for the second consecutive year. Founded by Jonathan Grubin in 2009, it not only allows the likes of Mondelez, L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Coty to target the right consumers, it also harnesses data to help brands measure the precise impact of each campaign.

Over the past year, the Newcastle-based business has almost doubled the size of its team to 35 people. It has also expanded its presence in the US, and a seven-strong team now operates from its New York office. “The US will be our largest market,” says Grubin.

SoPost has historically worked principally with beauty brands but has now branched out into new sectors, from food and beverage to pharmaceuticals. According to Grubin, this will allow growth to accelerate over the coming years: “We have expanded our customer base and are also now expanding within large companies across many brands.”

SoPost hit another major milestone earlier this year when it launched a new product that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help brands manage campaigns and process requests for samples. “Before, companies had to make a crude assessment of each sample request,” explains Grubin. “We have now built smart technology that delivers extreme efficiencies.”

SoPost’s success has brought with it new challenges. “Every week we now come across a copycat,” says Grubin. “Some are within big companies, others are small. They ‘borrow’ what we do but not in a very clever way. That’s giving us a lot of drive to keep staying ahead and get better and better at what we do.”

To ensure that the company stays at the forefront of innovation, 70pc of SoPost’s staff are focused on product development. “We look at technology and R&D first,” says Grubin. “These things are prioritised in everything we do, from the focus of the leadership team, to the hires we make, to the links we're building with organisations like Newcastle University. It’s critical.”

It has been a decade since Grubin came up with the idea for SoPost; he believes his ambition has only increased over time. “I feel more driven than ever,” he says. “That’s the impact of success, and the excitement that it generates. In the market we operate in, we’re by far the most advanced company of our kind.”

He continues: “Everyone has grand dreams of the future but if you had asked me, five years ago, where we would be today, I never would have imagined we’d be here. Now I know what the team and I are capable of achieving, I know what’s doable and that’s driving aspiration and ambition.”

SoPost is a venture-backed business but Grubin says an exit is far from imminent: “That’s not why we are doing this,” he says. “We have investors who will need a return at some point but no one is building this solely for financial gain. We want to build the most powerful product-sampling platform in the world. We won’t stop until we achieve that.”