awardsBootstrapping is not an easy path to building a business. But it also can be extremely gratifying, and the best way for a big payoff down the road.

The Pacific Northwest is full of hard-core bootstrappers, those folks who are using their own resources to get their startup ideas off the ground. Today’s category — Bootstrapper of the Year — recognizes those achievements (and the long hours that many of the entrepreneurs put in).

HasOffers-LogoThanks to category sponsor HasOffers, which won this award last year.

We kicked off voting for the GeekWire Awards last week (see previous categories here) and we’ll continue tabulating the votes in the 14 categories as we announce new finalists every day. The winners will be revealed at the big GeekWire Awards bash on May 9 in Seattle.

Here are the five finalists for Bootstrapper of the Year:

Adam Doppelt
Adam Doppelt

Adam Doppelt, Brenda Spoonemore, Dwellable: The makers of the popular online vacation rental application have injected a bootstrapping culture from the very beginning. But they aren’t playing “small ball,” taking on the likes of HomeAway and others. Doppelt has done it before too, bootstrapping Urbanspoon to a nice success. Can the Dwellable crew strike again?

Steve Murch
Steve Murch

Steve Murch, BigOven: For the longest time, Steve Murch was building BigOven on his own, joking that it was just him and his dog (Then, his dog died). But Murch, who previously sold to Expedia, is very much keeping the flame alive at BigOven. The company announced in February that it had topped more than eight million downloads for the mobile recipe apps, competing against much larger brands such as


Matthew Matsudaira, Adorii: The developer of the daily deal site for weddings isn’t married to the idea of bootstrapping long-term, but CEO Matthew Matsudaira said it did help the startup get off the ground. “It allowed us to be agile and move quickly to deliver an (minimum viable product) to the marketplace,” he says. Adorii is trying to make weddings more affordable, offering discounts of as much as 80 percent on selected goods and services.

David Niu

David Niu, TinyHR: Seattle entrepreneur David Niu returned from what he dubbed his 15-country “careercation” with a goal of changing the way  companies interact with employees. TinyHR’s TinyPulse product is the result, an easy-to-use online tool that gives leaders of companies a “pulse” on how happy, burnt out and frustrated their employees are. The entrepreneur, who previously co-founded BuddyTV and NetConversions, is bootstrapping TinyHR.

Sunny Singh

Sunny Singh, Edifecs: The healthcare IT company has built a powerful business over the past 17 years, and now boasts more than 400 employees and over 500 customers. Profitable and debt free, it is routinely ranked as one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing public companies.  Prior to founding Edifecs, Singh worked at Microsoft and Expeditors International. But he’s bootstrapped Edifecs all of the way.

The GeekWire Awards — originally started by Seattle entrepreneur Marcelo Calbucci — are in their 5th year now. Past winners have included Tableau Software, PopCap Games, angel investor Andy Sack, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, Zillow Chairman Rich Barton and many others.

Thanks again to our “Bootstrapper of the Year” category sponsor: HasOffers. Make sure to get your tickets today for this one-of-a-kind event today. 

Previous categories: GeekWire Awards: Vote for Young Entrepreneur of the Year Vote for Next Tech TitanVote for App of the YearVote for Perk of the YearVote for Do-Gooder of the YearVote for Startup CEO of the YearVote for Game of the Year

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  • Tough Pick

    This is quite tricky to vote for them, since only two have metrics to compare. Others just seem like a face and company description, but not sense of how well they are doing.

  • Eric LeVine

    Congrats to Steve! Love me some bootstrappers.

    (Did you guys think about CellarTracker? Not sure if it counts now that it is 9 years in…)

  • Anon

    Great guys, all around, but someone who sold their last company or walked away from Microsoft with a pile of cash is hardly a bootstrapper. Are any of these people really bootstrappers? As for Sunny Singh, seems to me he might have been eligible like 15 years ago. How can a 17 year old company with 400 employees qualify?

    Where are the people who are eating nothing but ramen?

  • Keith

    Sorry, but these likely rich guys are not bootstrappers in my book. Popularity contest.

  • Webmaven

    Lots of people are eating ramen noodles as they try to make their big idea for a company work. Just struggling doesn’t qualify you as a bootstrapper. I think these awards are for those who actually DID make it work, so that’s why Singh would qualify.

    • FrankB

      Not all of these DID make it work… Some have no data about how well their company is performing.

  • johnhcook

    Thanks for the messages everyone. Just to offer a bit of an explainer on how the Awards process works. We asked for nominations from the community earlier this month, receiving hundreds of nominations from folks in each of the 14 categories. (Anyone could be nominated). Then, after compiling the nominations, we asked our panel of more than 35 judges to help us reduce the list to five finalists in each category. We have now opened this up to community voting. It’s not a perfect system, but it is the most democratic we could think of where we are tapping the community for help. If there are other great bootstrappers in the community we overlooked, please keep them in mind for next year. Thanks again, and hope to see everyone on May 9th at the Awards!

  • Salim Hemdani

    Congratulations David. What you have created is simply amazing and your passion for that work is bar none!

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