Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative health, beauty, and consumer goods companies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first reached U.S. shores two years ago, it rocked the wellness industry. What “staying healthy” meant got broken down and rebuilt completely. Staying alive came first. Even though physical and mental well-being remained at the forefront of global consciousness, many wellness companies had to strive harder than ever to bring their services to the people, overcoming shuttered gyms, pools, and studios and motivating low-energy work-from-homers to still, somehow, get that blood pumping. Stress alone can take a physical toll, and companies were scrambling to help.
Today, a new chapter has begun. Many of the changes in the industry brought on by the pandemic are becoming permanent, yet still innovative features. And now that people are beginning to venture out, businesses are adjusting to meet us in this new-normal realm as well. Fitness companies like Bande and Obé are reshaping virtual exercise with collaborative elements that replicate the fun of working out in person, like classes with friends or pre-session locker room chats. And connected fitness is reaching a new level with Clmbr’s virtual rock climber, which introduces the Free Solo thrill to the at-home-gym crowd. Mental health is looking forward too: Tripp—a VR-powered meditation platform—lends further credence to the growing field of psychedelic therapy, which treats patients with hallucinogenic drugs like psilocybin and ketamine. Meanwhile, another corner of the industry is focused on getting clean, with Genexa reformulating medicines without the common allergens and artificial filler ingredients, and Eight Sleep engineering a mattress that cuts the junk hours out of your night’s rest.
For cleaning up medicine cabinets of artificial filler ingredients
Clean food and clean beauty are all the rage, but what about clean medicine? Genexa pioneered the field in 2016 with a mission to launch over-the-counter treatments for pain, allergy relief, and cold and flu that include the active ingredients also found in Tylenol, Benadryl, and so forth—but without the artificial filler ingredients. These include propylene glycol, artificial dyes, synthetic binders, and talc as well as other potential allergens such as gluten and lactose, which may be lurking in the formula unlabeled. Genexa replaces these with clean ingredients such as organic fruit extracts and beetroot rather than artificial flavors and colors. After being distributed primarily online and through natural-foods retailers, Genexa took its formulations mainstream in 2021, expanding within Costco, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and Walmart. Its products are now for sale in 45,000 stores. (Genexa products are a bit more expensive than their name-brand competition. For example, its kids pain and fever reducer is $7.99 at Target.com versus $5.99 for Motrin.) The company continues to upend the $175 billion over-the-counter drug market, with the first clean analgesic medicines coming this spring.
2. Eight Sleep
For maximizing rest and recovery, tirelessly
Eight Sleep woke up the mattress industry a few years ago with a high-tech bed, futuristically called a “Pod.” Today’s version comes with a suite of sleep-well capabilities: temperature-regulating microclimates that can be heated or cooled; sensors that track deep sleep, REM sleep, and daily heart rates; and a gentle wake-up experience, with an alarm that gradually cools the mattress several minutes before cuing a soft, chest-level vibration. In 2021, Eight Sleep rolled out SleepOS, an artificial intelligence-powered operating system that learns a user’s ideal sleep conditions based on tracker data and then automatically adjusts accordingly, while also factoring in the ambient environment. It also serves as a private sleep coach, offering actionable feedback and flagging abnormal events. Eight Sleep claims that it has tripled revenue in 2021 over the prior year, and an $86 million funding round last August will support Eight’s next dream: biometric scanners that can detect early signs of the flu.
3. Obé Fitness
For adding some Hollywood magic to workouts
Who said exercise couldn’t be fun? Obé Fitness is carving out a fitness niche where TV shows meet workouts that the company calls “entertrainment.” Founded by former agents from Creative Artists Agency, Obé offers a streaming service with 22 live classes per day and more than 7,000 on demand for $27 a month or $199 a year. It augments its 1980s VHS exercise-tape aesthetic (think Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons) with special themed workouts, in which Obé partners with Hollywood studios to translate entertainment events into fitness. Obé has deals with CBS, Disney, HBO Max, and Peacock, and in 2021, it created workouts tied to the releases of Cruella, where the classes were taught in drag, and West Side Story, in which the company paired some of the musical’s iconic songs with moves inspired by the film’s choreography. This year, it celebrated the season premiere of Amazon Prime’s Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a sequence of Miriam-esque dance moves. The average Obé member takes 14 classes a month.
For rewarding healthy lifestyle choices
Paceline was founded in 2019 with the goal of incentivizing healthy lifestyles with a little extra spending money. The company integrates with popular fitness wearables such as Apple Watch to track physical activity, and then doles out rewards linked to popular health and wellness brands, including Sweetgreen, Daily Harvest, Future, and Hyperice. Members who achieve 150 minutes of elevated heart rate activity in a given week—called a “streak”—can score a variety of coupons for discounts or free stuff. In 2021, Paceline piloted the first-ever health and wellness credit card, which launched this past February. The card offers up to 5% cash-back on health and wellness spending (think gym memberships, workout gear, and pharmacy goods); Paceline streaks double those points. (The card’s annual fee is $60.) To date, Paceline users have racked up more than 2 billion minutes of exercise and claimed over 4 million rewards.
For letting amateur athletes rest and recover like pros
Therabody massaged its bones by bringing percussive energy to its Theragun designed to aid in muscle recovery—for physical therapists, professional athletes, and ultimately the masses. Now Therabody is bringing out the big guns in high-tech recovery tools. In 2021, it introduced the futuristic-looking RecoveryAir Pro, a medical-grade pneumatic compression system, with sleeves for the arms, pants for the legs, and a vest for the chest. It also acquired PowerDot, an electrical muscle-stimulation wearables company, thus adding a device that can deliver electric pulses through stick-on electrode pads, something that its major competitors have yet to match. In addition, Therabody launched a line of topical lotions and oils, as well as edible tinctures.
For summiting new heights in connected fitness
Clmbr brings connected fitness to the rock face—without having to worry about dangling off a cliff several thousand feet in the air. Designed for adventurous fitness junkies, the device, which simulates rock climbing via a stationary machine that fits in the corner of a one-bedroom apartment, lets users take classes with instructors or do free climbs, even ones replicating the effort of scaling the face of El Capitan or summiting Mount Everest. Clmbr, which retails for $2,799, started with an Indiegogo campaign in December 2020 that was fully funded in less than 30 minutes. Since then, it’s opened a flagship studio in Denver, and it’s attracted a slew of celebrity adherents, including tennis star Novak Djokovic, NFL player Odell Beckham Jr., Pitbull, and Jay-Z.
For tuning in to the blooming field of psychedelic therapy
What a long, strange trip it’s been for psychedelics. What was once the province of hippies (and the CIA) is gaining ground as both a legal substance and a respected treatment in the buttoned-up offices of psychiatric clinics. Tripp, which was founded in 2017 to design immersive meditation sessions powered by virtual reality and augmented reality, expanded in 2021 to provide guidance to clinics and researchers on how to use its platform to reduce patients’ stress before and after they’re treated with hallucinogenic medicines such as ketamine or psilocybin. Tripp only requires a VR headset such as Oculus Quest or Sony PlayStation VR to use and the company’s mobile app. It creates a curated set of visuals, sound frequencies, and interactive gameplay to take users to a peaceful place. When Oculus’s App Store allowed for subscriptions last April, Tripp was one of the first to take advantage. As of September, Tripp was approaching 100,000 subscribers for its consumer offerings, which include $20 annual and $35 lifetime memberships, and it claims a 19% compound monthly growth rate. The company also ventured into augmented reality in 2021 by launching on Nreal’s AR glasses, which are available in the United States, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, and Spain. Groovy.
8. Attn: Grace
For redefining what it means to age gracefully
For women, aging—and nearly everything that comes along with it—has been stigmatized for, well, centuries. Launched in 2020, Attn: Grace has taken on the mission of making over a $2.5 billion market for the aging woman, particularly the baby boomer cohort, by celebrating and nurturing the body that has carried her through the years. The wife-and-wife entrepreneurs behind the startup started with the often hush-hush issues that older women face, such as bladder leaks. The wellness brand designs personal-care items such as high-performance liners, pads, and briefs with a sleek touch and elegant packaging (no more shamefully frumpy branding), as well as a gentle barrier cream meant for the most sensitive folds of skin. All of it is made with sustainable, bio-based materials in carbon-neutral factories. Between January and September 2021, Attn: Grace grew monthly net sales almost sixfold while attracting 71% more monthly new customers.
For re-creating the bonds of sweating together, virtually
Last year, the pandemic precipitated a boom in at-home fitness, and devotees of every studio from SoulCycle to Barry’s Bootcamp took their classes virtual. Suddenly, you could have your pick of name-brand workouts right from the convenience of your living room, but one key element was missing: the bonding experience of sweating it out with your fellow fitness buffs, suffering together in pursuit of post-cardio endorphins. Bande, launched in March 2021 as a response to the new virtual exercise landscape, seeks to replicate the “boutique in-studio experience”—the one where you can chat with like-minded gymgoers before sessions and grab smoothies afterward. Bande lets users post messages in a virtual “locker room” or tag classmates for virtual hangouts later on; they can also “whisper” to them during workouts. Livestreams are all two-way (both audio and video), so users feel like they’re back in the studio with everyone else and instructors can adjust participants’ form. When weather and COVID-19 variants permitted, Bande introduced live, outdoor pop-up events so members could meet one another and their instructors—and livestreamed them to those who couldn’t. Bande offers more than 100 live classes for either a $40-a-month subscription or $15 per drop-in class and reports that it converts approximately two-thirds of people who sign up for a seven-day free trial.
10. Rose Los Angeles
For crafting cannabis edibles fit for the gourmand
With marijuana legalization sweeping the nation, edibles are moving to the fore. Dispensaries are already packed with sour gummies, fruity chews, and chocolate chunks that tuck THC into grade-school candy. Rose Los Angeles elevates cannabis to absurd gastronomic heights for the refined palette of discerning connoisseurs. It combines single-strain flower rosin, a pure form of plant extract, with dizzying flavor pairings—often created in conjunction with Michelin-starred chefs—in a Turkish Delight-style candy. Rose expanded into CBD edibles and national online distribution in 2021, and released flavors such as apple ume ginger (made with award-winning Yumé Boshi syrup), cherimoya sannam chili lime, and Magical Grapes, Japanese wine grape varietals cold-steeped with crushed pink peppercorn. All of this has led Rose to receive a bouquet of accolades that it makes, as Highsnobiety put it, “the world’s best edibles.”