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Jesse Proudman of Blue Box, winner of the 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Jesse Proudman of Blue Box, winner of the 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Next up in the GeekWire Awards voting is one of our favorite categories: Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Youth is not wasted on the young, at least when it comes to these inspiring entrepreneurs, all of whom have achieved amazing things at the age of 30 or younger.

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Some have asked us why we even recognize young entrepreneurs, but the answer is simple. A thriving tech ecosystem needs a pool of new entrepreneurial candidates who can usher in change, seeing around corners and ushering in disruptive technologies. This year’s class of finalists certainly achieves that. (See below for voting and short 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 OfferUp, the presenting sponsor for this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year category. Vote in the poll below, and keep reading for descriptions of each of our five finalists this year.

Gilad Berenstein

Gilad Berenstein of Utrip: After launching its online travel service last April, Utrip continues to grow under the direction of 27-year-old CEO Gilad Berenstein. The company is adding new users each month, and while Berenstein says revenues are small, they are starting to grow. The company raised $1.6 million last year, and now employs 11 people.

Berenstein came up with the idea for Utrip after traveling in Europe following grad school, noting that travel books just weren’t good enough to help craft his experience. The University of Washington grad wondered if a more personalized experience could be created, without the high costs of a travel agent.

Aviel Ginzburg
Aviel Ginzburg

Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured: Aviel Ginzburg’s LinkedIn bio kind of says it all: “Product obsessed workaholic.”

Yes, those are traits of successful entrepreneurs, and Ginzburg has made his mark as the co-founder of Seattle-based Simply Measured.

The social media analytics company has grown from a germ of an idea when he and co-founder Damon Cortesi started it under the moniker “Untitled Startup” five years ago. The 30-year-old Ginzburg, who studied economics at Vanderbilt University, has helped grow the team to more than 150 employees. It raised $20 million in venture funding last year, and today the social analytics tool is used by companies such as Pepsi, Microsoft, Whole Foods and Adidas.

Josh Neblett
Josh Neblett

Josh Neblett of etailz: Spokane entrepreneur Josh Neblett started etailz seven years ago after hearing a venture capitalist pitch an idea at Gonzaga University for an online eco-friendly retailer.

Today, the company Neblett co-founded along with venture capitalist Tom Simpson operates five niche e-commerce sites, including Ecomom, GreenCupboards and EveryCasa. Neblett, 28, has never slowed down since starting the company.

The company has used its profits to expand, growing the business each year. In 2013, etailz ranked #128 on the Inc. 500 list with revenue of $13.1 million and a 3-year-growth rate of 2,898 percent. It landed there again in 2014, ranking #313, with annual 2013 annual revenue of $27 million.

Adina Mangubat
Adina Mangubat

Adina Mangubat of Spiral Genetics: Spiral Genetics CEO Adina Mangubat is helping to develop technologies that could make each of us healthier. The bioinformatics company she co-founded six years ago is developing software for complex DNA analysis,

The company’s flagship product, known as Anchored Assembly, utilizes high performance computational algorithms to identify genetic structural variants.

The company is backed by venture capital powerhouse DFJ, and the 28-year-old Mangubat continues to lead an ambitious effort at the life sciences upstart. “Our goal is to produce software that harnesses the potential of large-scale genome sequencing and can usher in the era of precision medicine,” said Mangubat in a recent release.

Ryan Vogel and Adam Greenberg
Ryan Vogel and Adam Greenberg

Ryan Vogel and Adam Greenberg of Pure Blue Tech: Adam Greenberg, 25, and Ryan Vogel 23, are assembling some of the top thinkers in the world when it comes to water treatment. The University of Washington grads also have inked an alliance with WaterTectonics, a global water treatment manufacturer for the oil, gas and mining industries.

Still in its early stages, Pure Blue nonetheless is looking to solve a big problem, boosting water supplies by developing a system that reduces the cost of desalination. In 2013, the company won the University of Washington Business Plan Competition, with Vogel saying at the time of the award: “The vision is to create an A to Z water treatment solution that will allow us to convert any water in the world …. into pure potable water for drinking or other purposes.”

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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