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David vs. Goliath

These three small companies aim to upstage their larger rivals by giving consumers what they really want: products that are green, wireless -- and more comfortable.

Born Free vs. Gerber
Born Free vs. Gerber
The challenge: Can a fledgling baby-bottle maker use its moment in the sun to win over parents who were raised as Gerber babies?

What they did: When reports surfaced in 2006 about the potential toxicity of the chemical BPA in baby bottles, Ron Vigdor started BornFree, the first line of BPA-free bottles. Vigdor helped spur demand for the bottles by publicizing BPA's possible dangers. After several retailers pulled bottles made with BPA from shelves in 2007, his were the only ones remaining. Now Gerber and others also sell BPA-free bottles, but BornFree, based in Boca Raton, Fla., remains a favorite by continuing to innovate. Its patented venting system helps babies ingest less air while feeding, reducing illness and other irritation. BornFree also benefits from its popularity among celebrity moms like Heidi Klum, helping push sales to $20 million in 2010, Vigdor says. The $10 bottles are sold at Whole Foods and Babies "R" Us.

By Jessica Shambora, writer-reporter @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 01 2012: 10:37 AM ET

The Van Winkle family has been in the bourbon business for 100 years. Its secret for the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery? Make prize-winning spirits and keep supply really low.