Whether it’s your family, your friends, your colleagues, or others — an entrepreneur’s journey takes a ton of support on the path to success.
That was one of the key themes Friday evening at a gala in Seattle to celebrate Ernst & Young’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for the Pacific Northwest region.
The winners shared gratitude for the support they’ve received over the years as they help lead some of the area’s fastest-growing companies. The event at the King St. Ballroom & Perch was held a few days before Father’s Day and some took the chance to shout-out their dad, including Madeline Haydon, CEO of Bellevue, Wash.-based dairy-free coffee creamer maker nutpods.
“What is harder than being a pregnant, woman of color trying to get investor money? I would say it’s a 35-year-old man in charge of six children and a wife from Saigon, Vietnam, starting over in a new country to let his children have a better life,” Haydon said during her acceptance speech. “My dad taught me everything I needed to learn as an entrepreneur: determination, out-working all of your challenges, and not letting things stop you.”
Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of education tech startup Dreambox Learning, also talked about parents during her acceptance speech.
“When I think about being here, I think about my parents and how they helped me to see past impediments toward possibilities,” she said. “They saw a spark in me, even when I didn’t see it myself. And that is why the work at Dreambox is so important.
“If we can help every child see their spark, they will believe it,” added Woolley-Wilson, whose company is focused on empowering young students as they learn math.
The finalists and winners, selected by a panel of independent judges, represent companies across various industries such as healthcare, marketing, logistics, and more, highlighting the strength of the Pacific Northwest tech ecosystem. They are tackling big ideas and big problems with equally large visions.
“What we’re trying to do at Accolade is really change the way healthcare works in the country,” said Raj Singh, CEO of Accolade, during his acceptance speech. “And it’s a silly, stupid, huge goal. But the belief is fundamentally that healthcare in this country is too hard and it’s too expensive and it doesn’t get the outcomes it’s supposed to do. It’s a tough objective, but we’re really thrilled to be making progress in our goal.”
Singh added: “To all of the entrepreneurs in this room: this is a journey that we’re all on together, and especially in the Pacific Northwest, we all pull for each other. So for all of you who are in the room and cranking and working and doing all the really hard work that builds businesses: my hat’s off to you.”
The winners will go on to compete in the national EY competition, which is now in its 33rd year.
Last year’s EY Pacific Northwest winners included Auth0 CEO Eugenio Pace; iSpot.tv CEO Sean Muller; Snap! Raise CEO Cole Morgan; and others.
See below for a rundown of the other winners, and see this post for a list of all finalists.
[Editor’s note: EY is a GeekWire annual sponsor, and GeekWire co-founder John Cook served as a judge for the awards.]