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Awards0GWA_banners_300x250-02We’re back with another category in the GeekWire Awards, and today is a biggie. Next Tech Titan recognizes the company that’s on the brink of stardom, a fast-growing enterprise that could knock off a traditional powerhouse or dominate (or change) an industry altogether.

Past winners of the this award have included Tableau Software and Zulily — both of which ended up going public in 2013. OK, no pressure for this year’s winner!

There’s a great group of up-and-comers in the Northwest tech scene, making the competition in this category especially tight, from online real estate giant Redfin to electronic signature pioneer DocuSign to online sales tax automator Avalara to companies that make IT infrastructure hum, like Apptio and Chef.

bigdoorAs with each of our categories, the five finalists below were nominated by the community and then selected with the input of our panel of judges. The winners will be announced May 8th at the GeekWire Awards show, taking place at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

A big thanks to our Next Tech Titan category sponsor, BigDoor, for helping to make the award possible.

Cast your ballot here:

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Scott McFarlane of Avalara
Scott McFarlane of Avalara

AvalaraThe Bainbridge Island company is a bit quirky, celebrating its island culture with Margarita nights and even orange toilet paper in the bathrooms. (Orange is the color of the company, with many employees wearing it every day). But Avalara is building a real business, helping those who sell products online deal with the thorny issue of sales tax collection.

It has information on more than 12,000 tax jurisdictions across the United States, and integrates with most major ERP systems, accounting packages, ecommerce shopping carts, as well as POS systems and mobile platforms to make it easy for sellers to collect the sales tax they need. Avalara just unveiled a free cloud-based service for small businesses called TrustFile, and the 10-year-old company raised a $30 million venture round in February to “support growth.”

Sunny Gupta
Sunny Gupta of Apptio

ApptioThe Sunny Gupta-led company is growing fast, helping businesses better manage their IT spending. And Gupta, who previously co-founded iConclude, which was sold to Opsware, is not shy about swinging for the fences this time around.

“We are trying to build something of substantial scale,” Gupta said. “We run our business like we wanted to build a great product, a great market, a great new category as opposed to thinking about an exit.”

The company opened a new headquarters in Bellevue last year, following a $50 million round that it raised from T. Rowe Price, Madrona Venture Group and others in 2012.

Barry Crist
Barry Crist of Chef

ChefFounded by employee Jesse Robbins and formerly known as Opscode, the Seattle IT automation startup is growing fast. It is on pace to double its staff this year, following a $32 million venture round from last December.

The company faced a setback last December when CEO Mitch Hill passed away after a battle with cancer. Now, under the direction of CEO Barry Crist, Chef is looking to carry out the groundwork that Hill helped put in place.

The Chef platform is used by Facebook, Nordstrom, Riot Games and more than 500 other enterprises to more quickly automate development processes and move business operations to the cloud.

Keith Krach of DocuSign
Keith Krach of DocuSign

DocuSignThe leader in e-signatures is certainly poised for big things, especially after the company raised an $85 million venture round last month. The Wall Street Journal pegged the venture round at a $1.6 billion valuation, making DocuSign a prime candidate to take the IPO leap in the coming months.

DocuSign was founded in Seattle by Tom Gonser, who continues to lead the company’s strategy. Operations are now split between Seattle and the Bay Area, with about 350 of the company’s 700 employees in Seattle. It plans to top 1,000 employees later this year as DocuSign continues to expand its service worldwide.

“We believe that all businesses and all individuals around the world are our potential addressable market for us. That’s seven billion people,” said CFO Mike Dinsdale last month. Now, that’s a big opportunity.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman

RedfinThe Seattle online real estate company is making a big push in 2014, expanding the number of markets where it operates in anticipation for what some believe could be an IPO. Redfin added a little accelerant five months ago when it raised $50 million in fresh funding, money that CEO Glenn Kelman said would allow it to experiment before possibly heading into the public markets.

At the time, Kelman said the company — which offers real estate service in more than 20 markets — was on annual revenue run rate of $100 million.

Vote in previous categoriesStartup of the YearCEO of the YearApp of the YearInnovation of the YearBootstrapper of the YearYoung Entrepreneur of the YearPerk of the Year; and Geek of the Year.

Tickets are going fast for the Awards show, so make sure to pic up yours today!

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