All of the largest stocks have one thing in common -- they began as no-name companies that had to build a customer following over time. This meant their stocks often traded at modest valuations until more investors recognized the value they offered.

One key to succeeding in investing is finding these under-the-radar stocks before they attract more buyers. Additionally, the recent bear market left many growth stocks trading at a fraction of their highs, an added factor that makes Shopify (SHOP 0.08%), PubMatic (PUBM 1.77%), and Dutch Bros (BROS 1.32%) lesser-known stocks to watch more closely.

1. Shopify

Admittedly, Shopify is anything but "under the radar" for those who follow the e-commerce business. According to BuiltWith, it has become the most popular e-commerce platform in the U.S. and the second largest in the world. However, since it does not directly conduct business with the general public as a company like Amazon does, average investors may not know it as well.

Still, investors should pay closer attention. Its subscription services segment has attracted customers through its customizable and rapid e-commerce platform for merchants.

Moreover, its merchant solutions segment has expanded its ecosystem to the point that Shopify has become the platform of choice for numerous merchants. This segment allows Shopify to provide capital, manage inventory, handle payments, and fulfill orders if needed.

Through these offerings, Shopify reported revenue of $3.9 billion in the first three quarters of 2022, a 20% increase compared with the same period in 2021.

Shopify's stock has dropped 74% from its 52-week high, indicating significantly reduced interest from investors. But that also took its price-to-sales (P/S) ratio below 10, a rare occurrence over the last six years.

Chart showing e-commerce revenue growth in the U.S., by year since 2018.

Image source: Statista.

Furthermore, analysts forecast a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% through 2027 for the $900 billion e-commerce industry. Given Shopify's role, it could continue to claim larger shares of this burgeoning industry, meaning 2023 should turn into a better year for Shopify.

2. PubMatic

PubMatic is another name that has little recognition, but that is changing as it has taken on an increasingly critical role in the digital ad industry. It works the sell side of this business, helping advertisers find their desired audiences on various platforms, a benefit that improves content monetization.

It further stands out by combining hardware and software applications, amounting to a "supply chain of the future." This ecosystem brings together vendors and clients, allowing the needed interactions to occur on one platform.

However, the company has lagged amid an economic slowdown that has hit the ad market particularly hard. Revenue grew 53% in 2021. But in the first nine months of 2022, revenue came in at $123.5 million, rising just 12% compared with the same period in 2021. Rising costs, expenses, and income taxes weighed on margins, and the roughly $16 million in net income for the first three quarters of 2022 fell 44% compared with the same timeframe the year before.

With only 1% revenue growth forecasted in the fourth quarter, the pain will likely continue.

Still, the sell-side digital ad industry has attracted an estimated CAGR of 23.7% through 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights. This points to an eventual comeback. With its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 17 near record lows, investors should consider PubMatic before its name recognition rises.

3. Dutch Bros

Another company poised to earn increasing recognition is Dutch Bros. The Grants Pass, Oregon-based beverage company has grown its profile in two critical ways.

It has stood out over Starbucks and other rivals by focusing on its handcrafted beverages. While this can mean teas, energy drinks, smoothies, or lemonades, its cappuccino-based Dutch Classics tend to attract the most attention.

Moreover, since its shops are drive-thru locations, it emphasizes its drinks more than Starbucks, a peer that delivers something like an Italian coffee house experience. In contrast to Starbucks' saturation in the U.S., Dutch Bros is in expansion mode. It has grown to 641 shops as of the end of the third quarter, up from 328 locations just five years ago.

Despite this growth, worries about slowing consumer spending have weighed on its stock. It sells at almost a 60% discount from its all-time high in November 2021.

Still, its financials point to strength. It reported revenue of $537 million in the first three quarters of 2022, rising 50% compared to the same timeframe in 2021. That helped it overcome rising input and labor prices, reducing losses over the period to $4 million. That is down from an $11 million loss during the first nine months of 2021.

Despite those improvements, Dutch Bros stock sells for about two times sales, which is close to a record low. Ultimately, its growth in today's more challenging times and its fast expansion pace could signify a buying opportunity.