Utah’s fast-growing firms honored

LoveSac founder tops list of Utah 100 Awards

Five years ago, Shawn Nelson was $50,000 in debt and struggling to start a business from the basement of his mother’s Millcreek home.

Today, Nelson is king of the world.

Well, at least when it comes to Utah’s fastest-growing companies.

On Thursday, the 28-year-old entrepreneur, who founded The LoveSac Corp., a furniture and fashion chain, was named the winner of the Utah 100 awards, a ranking of the state’s fastest revenue growth companies.

In 2005, LoveSac will top $30 million in sales.
This is a bang-up year for Nelson. In January, he came away with $1 million from billionaire Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways, after winning Fox’s TV reality show "The Rebel Billionaire."

Nelson said he handed his winnings over to his chief financial officer to further grow his Salt Lake-based company, which now has 74 stores and roughly 700 employees.

"Virgin is now a partner in LoveSac," Nelson told the Deseret Morning News. "We now have a Times Square store. We’re launching new products that are revolutionary that will change the whole furniture industry."

Five years from now, Nelson hopes the LoveSac brand will be internationally recognized, he said, "every bit as well known as Nike or McDonald’s."

"We’re a funky lifestyle brand that touts hard-core leisure," Nelson said. "We are really serious about how people waste their time."

Devin Thorpe, chairman of the MountainWest Capital Network, responsible for the Utah 100 rankings, called LoveSac’s growth phenomenal.

"Shawn is perhaps the smartest person I’ve ever known," Thorpe said. "He has this great persona of exuding all of this youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. He is a genius musician and is phenomenally smart. I’ve seen him work spreadsheets and do very analytical number crunching things better than people who are CFOs."

By Dave Anderton
Deseret Morning News

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