I feel it is fair to say that we’ve all heard of blue chip shares like REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) and TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM). These are multi-billion dollar companies which have been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange for over 10 years now and feature in many portfolios across the country.

But they weren’t always multi-billion dollar companies. In fact, 10 years ago they were far from it. In 2006 both were classed as small cap shares with market capitalisations of $484 million and $320 million, respectively. From little things big things really do grow.

Whilst these two companies were growing, they were also providing investors with incredible total returns. A $10,000 investment in both companies would have turned your original investments into approximately $162,000 and $280,000 after 10 years.

During the same period, if you had invested in large cap shares such as Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) you would have had very different returns. $10,000 invested in these two shares would now be worth approximately $31,000 and $25,000, respectively.

I feel this shows that if you can spot a potential blue chip share when it is still a small cap, you could go on to make incredible gains. This is of course easier said than done. But to help you on your way I have selected five small cap shares which I believe have extremely strong growth prospects in the future. Time will tell how far they can go, but here they are:

Catapult Group International Ltd (ASX: CAT)

Catapult is a small company with big potential. The sports analytics company is operating in a market which is expected to grow to be worth $4.7 billion in a few years from now. The company counts some of the largest and most successful sporting clubs amongst its growing client list, whilst enjoying an incredibly low churn rate of less than 1 percent. I believe Catapult could be a fantastic long-term investment.

Dicker Data Ltd (ASX: DDR)

Dicker Data is a founder-led wholesale distributor of computer hardware, software and related products with a market capitalisation of $292 million. In its first quarter this year the company delivered year-on-year revenue growth of 11% to $268 million. Considering the first quarter is regarded as its slowest quarter, I believe we could be looking at bumper earnings growth this year.

DTI Group Ltd (ASX: DTI)

DTI is a provider of integrated surveillance systems and fleet management solutions for the mass transit industry worldwide. It has recently won contracts for the supply of advanced CCTV surveillance systems on metro police vehicles in South Africa and trains in the US city of Philadelphia. Management has stated its prospects’ list across the world now stands at $388 million, showing a lot of potential growth ahead for this company with a market cap of just $33 million.

Gage Roads Brewing Co Limited (ASX: GRB)

Gage Roads Brewing Co is looking to profit from the growing appetite for craft beer across the world. With a market cap of just under $28 million it would be classed as a high-risk investment. But with Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) as one of its major customers and its largest shareholder with a 24% stake, I feel it is in a great position to grow the sales of its award-winning drinks over the next few years.

Xenith IP Group Ltd (ASX: XIP)

Xenith IP provides a range of intellectual property services for clients across the world. With a market cap of $134 million, it is much smaller than its rival IPH Ltd (ASX: IPH). But I believe it could offer better growth prospects for investors. With both shares changing hands at 21x estimated FY 2016 earnings, I would choose Xenith IP ahead of IPH today.

Whilst I believe there is a chance that some of these five shares could become future blue chip shares, these three new breed blue chip shares are already there and could be fantastic investments today.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.