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Awards0GWA_banners_300x250-02We’re kicking off voting today in the sixth annual GeekWire Awards, the biggest celebration of startups, innovation and entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest. And this year, we’re starting out with a marquee category: Startup of the Year.

Yep, that’s right, with help from our judges, we’ve whittled the field of dozens of nominees down to these five finalists. Now, it’s up to you, our loyal readers, to help us pick the winner, which we’ll announce May 8th at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

This is one of 13 categories we’ll open up to community voting over the next two weeks, so make sure to check back to GeekWire to place your votes.

generalassembly-logoA big thanks to General Assembly for sponsoring the Startup of the Year category, which was won last year by Seattle-based Simply Measured.

So, without further ado, make sure to cast your ballot here, and continue reading for more background on each finalist.

contextrelevantlogo1Context Relevant: The big data analytics startup reeled in $7 million in funding last summer from a group of investors that included Bloomberg, Vulcan, Madrona and Seattle super angel Geoff Entress, and then earlier this year inked a deal with Richard Clarke’s cybersecurity consulting firm Good Harbor Security Risk Management. The Seattle startup, led by CEO Stephen Purpura, is growing fast with interest from Wall Street financial firms and other Fortune 500 businesses. Context Relevant’s tools help companies and organizations better utilize data to solve issues or boost profits

haikudeck1Haiku Deck: The maker of the easy-to-use online presentation software topped a million downloads in February, with CEO Adam Tratt declaring that they are “just at the start of something huge.” Haiku Deck rolled out iPhone and desktop versions in the past three months. The company, located in Seattle’s quirky Fremont neighborhood, also raised $3 million from Trilogy Partnership, Madrona Venture Group and Founder’s Co-op last year. Not bad for a company that underwent a serious pivot two years ago.

porch-logoPorch: The Seattle startup is inking deals, raising money and hiring like mad as it looks to take a bite out of the home improvement market. Porch now employs more than 125 people, up from just 25 folks six months ago. A recent partnership with Lowe’s also is adding momentum to the 2-year-old company, which was started by entrepreneur Matt Ehrlichman, leveraging data to help home owners make better remodeling decisions. Backers include Ron Conway, former eBay president Jeff Skoll, Facebook executive Javier Olivan and Seattle’s Geoff Entress.

remitly1Remitly: Matt Oppenheimer and Josh Hug are looking to make it simple to transfer money anywhere on the globe, starting first with the Philippines. The Seattle startup — a TechStars Seattle grad formerly known as BeamIt Mobile — raised $5.5 million earlier this year from Trilogy, QED,  Founders Co-Op, TomorrowVentures and Bezos Expeditions. It’s taking on giants such as Western Union and Moneygram, with a mobile-centric approach.

Rover Formed by venture capitalist Greg Gottesman as a fun project at a Startup Weekend event, is lapping up funds and taking a bite out of the traditional $7 billion-plus kennel business. Described as Airbnb for pet care, inked a huge deal with Petco last summer, and then last month raised $12 million from Menlo Ventures and others. Rover now employs 43 people, with more than 25,000 pet sitters across the country. It is led by former aQuantive exec Aaron Easterly, and his dog Caramel.

Tickets for the GeekWire Awards — taking place May 8th at the EMP — are available here. But don’t snooze. We’re once again expecting this event to sell out.

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