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Seattle-based trucking technology company Convoy won Startup of the Year last year.

If you needed another reminder of Seattle’s robust startup scene, take a look at the finalists for this year’s Startup of the Year category at the GeekWire Awards.

Over the next two weeks, we’re opening voting in 13 GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks from finalists selected by our panel of judges from community nominations. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballot. Winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — on May 10th at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

The five nominees for Startup of the Year — Amplero, Boundless, Crowd Cow, JetClosing, and Textio — are using technology to disrupt everything from the immigration process to buying beef.

Last year’s winner in this category was Convoy, a startup trying to transform the trucking industry with an Uber-like system that matches truckers with the loads they carry. Other past winners have included Arivale, Koru, Rover, Simply Measured, and Zipline Games.

To qualify for this award, startup companies had to be based in the Pacific Northwest and four years old or less. We received dozens of nominations from GeekWire readers, and our illustrious judging panel helped us winnow the group to the five finalists. You can read more about each company and cast your ballot for one of the five finalists for Startup of the Year in the poll below.

A big thanks to League for sponsoring the Startup of the Year category. The winner will receive a three-hour on-site visit from League’s team of certified massage professionals. You’ll be refreshed and limbered up by the time the Awards hit on May 10th!”


The Amplero team, from left: Sidd Panigrahi, Tina-Marie Gulley, Luca Cazzanti, Eddie Schubert, Maleene Deonarine, Rebecca Gerben Mehta, Doug Gelfand, Julie Penzotti.

Fast-growing Amplero emerged on the scene in 2016 with its AI-based marketing tools, unleashing a new way for companies to optimize customer interaction and loyalty.  The Seattle startup — a spinout of marketing company Globys — then reeled in $17.5 million in venture funding in August from Greycroft Partners, Ignition Partners, Wildcat Venture Partners, Seven Peaks Ventures and Trilogy Equity Partners. The company’s customer list includes Sprint, Virgin Mobile, Microsoft, BECU and DoubleDown Interactive. Led by veteran technologist Olly Downs, who previously worked as chief scientist at AdReady, Atigeo and Mindset Media, the company is now expanding into categories such as travel, retail and consumer technology.


The Boundless team, from left: Anjana Prasad, Charity Seid, David Balatero, Xiao Wang, Chris Montes, Erika Kay, Crystal Cui. (Boundless Photo)

Boundless aims to help U.S. citizens and Green Card holders apply for visas for their spouses. The company, a spinout of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs, announced a $3.5 million funding round last year. Its co-founders boast major tech credentials and five of the company’s six staffers went through the immigration process themselves. “As an immigrant, I know how frustrating the waiting process can be, particularly when your family’s future is on the line,” Boundless CEO Xiao Wang said last year. “I am dedicated to giving everyone the information and tools they need to confidently and successfully navigate the legal immigration process.”

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow
Crowd Cow founders Joe Heitzeberg, left, and Ethan Lowry in 2016. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Crowd Cow is on a mission to deliver sustainably-raised beef to customers across the U.S. The 3-year-old business, founded by tech vets Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry, works with independent ranches and cuts out the middleman to bring quality beef direct to consumers. Users of the company’s website can pick cuts of their choosing from select animals and help “tip a cow.” Using technology, Crowd Cow can accurately partition and sell every cut from the animal so nothing is wasted, which contrasts with traditional cow sharing from local farms where it’s typically necessary to buy hundreds of pounds of beef in one big miscellaneous mix. Investors in Crowd Cow include Maveron, Zulily founders Mark Vadon and Darrell Cavens, ex-NFL star Joe Montana, and others.


The JetClosing team. (JetClosing Photo)

JetClosing is digitizing the home closing process for buyers, sellers, and realtors, removing paper forms and bringing everything to the cloud. The spinout of Pioneer Square Labs says it can reduce the amount of closing time, increase transparency, and cut costs with a more efficient model. The company, which makes money by charging a fee as part of the transaction when it closes, has raised $5.2 million and currently operates in Washington, Colorado, and Arizona, where it launched this past October. It’s led by co-founder and CEO Daniel Greenshields, who previously spent nearly 15 years helping run ShareBuilder, a company now owned by Capital One which digitized and sped up the process of buying stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401(K) plans, and more.


Textio co-founders Jensen Harris and Kieran Snyder. (Linda Brooks Photography Photo)

Textio is using text analysis to help companies craft better job listings or candidate emails. Textio looks at word choice, organization of the listing, style, and more when formulating its score. Customers who get a high score on Textio end up seeing more qualified and diverse candidates, and they fill positions faster, the company says. The 4-year-old startup recently raised a $20 million investment round, with plans to expand to other types of business interactions, such as recruiting emails and sales communications. Textio’s customers include Apple, Microsoft, Slack, Twitter, BP, Johnson & Johnson and others. The company is led by co-founders Jensen Harris and Kieran Snyder, who is also nominated for CEO of the Year.

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