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Brown Paper Tickets celebrates its win of Bootstrapper of the Year at the 2015 GeekWire Awards
Brown Paper Tickets celebrates its win of Bootstrapper of the Year at the 2015 GeekWire Awards

We hear a lot about big venture capital rounds and the the mythical unicorn startup companies valued at more than $1 billion.

But some of the most powerful entrepreneurial stories involve those who shun venture capital, choosing a more organic and home-grown approach to building a business. Bootstrapping is no easy task, and today we celebrate five companies that are making a mark without other people’s money. (See poll below to cast your vote).

Awards 2016

Over the past two weeks, we’ve opened voting in the GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks from finalists selected by our panel of judges from community nominations. If you’d like to vote in all 13 categories — including Next Tech Titan, Startup of the Year and Geekiest Office Space —  visit here. All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave — on May 12 at EMP.

Tickets are available for the GeekWire Awards, but they are going fast and this event sells out every year as we celebrate the best of the Pacific Northwest tech community. Make sure to get your tickets here.

Bootstrapper of the Year is presented by Code Fellows.

Cast your ballot below and continue reading for more details on each finalist.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 1.45.15 AMBitTitan: Founded in 2007 by ex-Microsoftie Geeman Yip, BitTitan has developed a unique technology to migrate email mailboxes, public folders and other documents to the cloud. So far, it has helped more than 75,000 customers with migrations to the cloud, not bad for a company that was started in Yip’s garage nine years ago. The company’s approach to business: “Get sh*t done and have fun doing it”

cloak logoCloak: Founded by former Microsoft engineers Dave Peck, Peter Sagerson and Nick Robinson, Cloak’s service is designed to protect Macs and iOS devices from snooping on unsecured wireless networks. The upstart got some serious validation this past week when it was acquired by StackPath in a deal of undisclosed size. “Cloak was a thriving, profitable company so a sale wasn’t necessary; rather, we felt it was the right opportunity at the right time,” said Peck.

Endeavor One

Endeavor One: The Seattle area startup — founded by former Bungie, Sony and Valve employees — is looking to create new technologies and experiences in the burgeoning virtual reality arena. “For a game developer, VR is like a new form of canvas or paint,” said co-founder and former Bungie art lead Tom Doyle.

flowroute-logoFlowroute: The 9-year-old cloud-based communications startup, which moved its headquarters to Seattle from California three years ago, continues to grow as it helps more companies and organizations get easy-to-use calling and messaging services. “We have been able to grow quickly and organically due to the demand for our unique prepaid business model,” said CEO Bayan Towfiq in a recent GeekWire interview. Towfiq says the company’s goal is to make the accessing of communication services “as easy as getting a Gmail account for enterprises around the globe.”

Medbridge-logoMedBridge: Led by founder and CEO Justin Kowalchuk, MedBridge’s health care education platform is designed to help providers control rising costs. MedBridge boasts hundreds of hospital and private practice clients, and has a growing staff of more than 50 employees in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

Congrats to all of the Bootstrapper of the Year finalists, and don’t forget to grab your tickets for this year’s big event. Tickets are going fast, so get yours here before we sell out.

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