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Inc. is excited to announce that we're now accepting applications for our 2024 Founder-Friendly Private Equity Firms, Venture Capital Firms, and Lenders list! Altogether, more than 100 firms will earn our Founder-Friendly seal of approval.

Apply today and let Inc. show the world that your firm believes in backing founder-led businesses and helping them thrive. Be recognized as a partner that entrepreneurs can trust and collaborate with while receiving the financial support they need to help accelerate growth.

In addition to the overall list, Inc.’s Founder-Friendly Investors program will recognize firms by their investment strategy, with categories for the size of their portfolio companies and the industries they invest in.

All winning firms will appear in the November issue of Inc. magazine and on Inc.com. For full application details, see the FAQs. 


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Why Apply?


For over 40 years, Inc. magazine has been devoted to providing entrepreneurs with all the tools and resources they need to start, run, grow, and sometimes exit their businesses. Here’s what to expect if your firm makes this year’s list:

  • National Recognition: Business owners across the U.S. will know that your firm helps founder-led companies accelerate growth and create value.

  • Visibility and Media Exposure: You’ll be featured in the November issue of Inc. magazine and see your firm’s listing on Inc.com.

  • Seal of Approval: You’ll receive the Inc. seal of approval that your firm has an impressive track record of helping entrepreneurs.

Be proud of the firm you've created. Take a few minutes to apply and let Inc. magazine declare your firm one of the best for founders.


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Apply Now

Final Deadline: June 28 ($1495 fee)



While every application submitted will be considered for the annual private equity, venture capital, and lenders lists of Founder-Friendly firms, you may also apply to any of the below categories, creating additional opportunities to see your investment strengths featured in Inc. magazine and on Inc.com. Multiple honorees will be named in each category.



Business Products & Services

Companies that sell products and services primarily to other businesses.

Health Care

Companies that provide products or services strictly to the health care market.

Consumer Products &  Services

Companies that primarily make, distribute, or sell consumer products or consumer services.

Information Technology

Companies whose primary business is IT consulting or the development or management of software, servers, printers, cybersecurity, etc.

Impact Investing

Companies that are focused on making a positive social or environmental impact.


Companies that make both intermediate and finished goods for sale to businesses and consumers.

Financial Services

Companies that provide financing or whose products and services facilitate financial transactions.

Regional Categories 

PE  firms, VC firms, and lenders can apply for consideration as a top founder-friendly firm in one of these regions: Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Southeast, Southwest.

Investment Market Size (for PE Firms)

Firms that invest in lower-middle-market, middle-market, or upper-middle-market companies.

Investment Market Size (for VC Firms)

Firms that invest in​​ seed-stage, early-stage, or growth-stage companies.

History of Investing in Female Founders

Firms with a track record of investing in female-led companies.

History of Investing in Underrepresented Founders

Firms with a track record of investing in founders from underrepresented groups. 

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  • For investments to qualify, portfolio company founders must have remained actively involved in their business for at least one year post-investment.

  • Firms must have invested in a minimum of one founder-led portfolio company in the past five years.

  • Firms that manage both private equity and venture capital funds are eligible to apply in both categories.

Founding family members of multigenerational family-founded businesses are considered founders. Please email our team with any questions at FounderFriendly@inc.com.

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How It Works


1.    Complete Your Short Application

Complete the short application here by filling in basic information about your firm and selecting the categories you’d like to apply for. Extended Deadline: June 28, 2024 (Fee: $1495) 

2.    Provide Founder References

Inc. will reach out to the founder(s) of one or more of the portfolio companies you’ve provided in your application and ask a series of questions about their experience partnering with your firm.

3.    Watch for Our Announcement of 2024’s Inc. Founder-Friendly Investors

The list goes live on Inc.com in late-October 2024 and will be featured in the November print issue of Inc. magazine. Whether or not you make the list, you will be notified via email in October, before it is released to the general public.


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Apply Now

Final Deadline: June 28 ($1495 fee)


For full application details see our FAQs here.
Questions? Email Inc. at FounderFriendly@inc.com