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Jeremy Irish of Geocaching takes home the Bootstrapper of the Year Award at the 2014 GeekWire Awards
Jeremy Irish of Geocaching takes home the Bootstrapper of the Year Award at the 2014 GeekWire Awards

It takes a very special entrepreneur to build a business without angel or venture capital financing. Bootstrapping certainly is not the easiest path, but it can be especially rewarding, and we’re excited to once again celebrate those companies that are successfully guiding their businesses without outside funding.

awards sponsor postWe’ve got five great finalists in the Bootstrapper of the Year category for the GeekWire Awards, including companies in security, cloud computing, event ticketing, . (See below for voting and descriptions).

If you’re just tuning in, we’re in the midst of picking the winners in 13 categories — ranging from Startup of the Year to Innovation of the Year to Geek of the Year — as part of the annual GeekWire Awards.

Over the next few days, we’re opening voting in each of 13 categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Broadband — on May 7 at EMP.

A big thanks to Merriman, the presenting sponsor for the 2015 Bootstrapper of the Year category.

Vote here, and keep reading for descriptions of each of our five finalists this year.

Geeman Yip
Geeman Yip

BitTitan: BitTitan is growing fast, recently taking over a new 16,000 square foot office space in Kirkland complete with a high-tech video wall, on-site gym and a large “social hall” where employees can sip a latte or grab a soda pop from one of three beverage coolers.

Typically, those are the amenities you see at well-funded startups burning through other people’s money. But not at BitTitan, which has developed an unique technology to migrate email mailboxes, public folders and other documents to the cloud.

Founded in 2007 by ex-Microsoftie Geeman Yip, BitTitan has now migrated more than 1.5 million mailboxes on behalf of 4,000 organizations. Customers using the service include Godfather’s Pizza, Harpo Studios, LSU and others.

BrandVerity-logo-1BrandVerity: BrandVerity has grown steadily with its online service that helps big brands like Dropbox and Sephora protect their trademarks across the Internet. The Seattle startup, founded in 2008 by former Judy’s Book engineering vice president David Naffziger, is proud of its bootstrapping roots with the company saying it values “scrappiness, curiosity, and a love of risk-taking.”

brownpapertickets1Brown Paper Tickets: Celebrating its 15th year in business, Brown Paper Tickets has never taken a dime of venture capital money, taking a different path from heavily-funded online ticketing rivals such as 9-year-old Eventbrite. Under the direction of CEO Steve Butcher and founder William S. Jordan, the Seattle company has ranked as high as the third largest ticket company in the world by the trade publication Ticket News.

Brown Paper Tickets helped transform the ticketing business, and it continues to innovate launching services such as the ability to help event organizers collect donations online without charging a service fee. The profitable company, which employs 85, has helped thousands of event planners sell about 20 million tickets worldwide.

“Bootstrapping the company has made us more nimble, efficient and sustainable, and we are able to pay that forward to our customers,” Butcher and Jordan write in a Q&A on their site. “We have better planning, better design, and more scalability at a lower cost than the rest of the industry.”

cloak-appCloak: Founded by former Microsoft employees engineers Dave Peck, Peter Sagerson and Nick Robinson, Cloak has created a service to protect Macs and iOS devices from snooping on unsecured wireless networks. The app was chosen as a “Best in Show” at the 2014 Macworld conference, with the editors at the news publication writing: “Given how much of our daily life and business is conducted online, the question isn’t really if you can afford to sign up for Cloak—it’s if you can afford not to.”

medbridge-pps-medbridge-logo-smallMedBridge: Led by founder and CEO Justin Kowalchuk, MedBridge’s health care education platform is designed to help providers control rising costs. The company now has more than 350 hospital and private practice clients, and has a growing staff of more than 50 employees in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

“Our mission is to give providers the tools they need to meet the demands of an evolving healthcare industry,” said CEO Justin Kowalchuk. “Improved patient outcomes require powerful education and effective patient care resources that help clinicians further engage patients in the rehabilitation process.”


Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the GeekWire Awards. This event usually sells out. And this year, things will be especially geeky as we open up the amazing Star Wars costume exhibit at EMP to all GeekWire Awards guests. What better way to get your geek on than go face-to-face with Chewbacca!

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