So here we are at the end of another year. We have had a bumper crop of Innovators and now we must say hail and farewell to three of our favorites. “Hail” as we welcome them to the Hall of Fame and “farewell” as they pass from our annual Innovators issue. To get to the Hall of Fame an Innovator must have been on our radar for some time and in the year-end Innovators issue for three years. That shows us that the innovation is not a flash in the pan and the Innovator is not a one-trick pony.

These are the folks everyone else competes with in one way or another.

Our long-term Innovators are market-shapers. Much of what they have done has created the de facto standards that have dictated what similar products do. These are the folks everyone else competes with in one way or another. And, as often as not, they are the tail that wags the dog because many of them are very small companies that have developed a great idea, partnered up with some heavy technical hitters or serial entrepreneurs and started a company to exploit their innovative technology.

Interestingly, when we talked to several of these small almost start-ups we found that there was no shortage of funding to get them going. In a time when we are just emerging from some pretty rough economic times there does seem to be plenty of venture capital for the right ideas. We may, indeed, be returning to a time when a great idea spawned in an entrepreneur's basement has, as they say, legs. We certainly hope so.

The 20 Innovators that preceded our Hall of Fame section all are potential Hall of Famers going forward. They all have the right stuff. It remains to be seen if they have the staying power. The three inductees this year certainly have both. It is not unusual for a Hall of Famer, or an Innovator that was due to be inducted, to be acquired. We had one of those this year. We hope that there will be more because one of the things that makes a serial entrepreneur tick is the opportunity to cash out and then go out and do the whole thing again. We had a few of those this year, too.

So, with all of that said, here are your three 2015 Innovators Hall of Fame inductees. Congratulations all. We – and the industry – couldn't be prouder of you!