Congratulations to Ernst & Young on their 25th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards gala, which was held Thursday night, June 16, at the Tysons Corner Ritz Carlton. Great work by E&Y’s Debbie Kissire, Rene Salas, Herb Engert, and Erika Chambers. You guys really know how to put on a show!
This awards program is the de facto “Academy Awards” of Entrepreneurship in our region, and brings together some of DC’s finest business leaders. The impact of this pioneering program in celebrating entrepreneurship and fostering confidence, inspiration, and pride in our community is immeasurable, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to the great work of the E&Y Team for these past 25 years.
Ten years ago, Doug Palley and I won this award. At that time, the company we had co-founded and built, CyberRep, was a leading call center/CRM provider with over 1000 employees and around $45 million in revenue in 2001. While winning the award didn’t change our company, per se, the recognition from our peers was a real confidence booster for us, and a morale booster for all of our associates. The best part, however, was becoming a member of the E&Y “family” and being invited to their Palm Springs national event every year, as well as participating in EOY alumni receptions, and just staying involved, etc.
Thursday night, I had the honor and privilege of returning as an alumnus to co-present the award for the 2011 Technology Entrepreneur of the Year to Kevin Mandia of Mandiant. The finalists in that category were Sid Bannerjee of Clarabridge, Tony Jiminez of MicroTech, and Craig Abod of Carahsoft Technology, all awesome entrepreneurs.
Winners in the other categories were:
Richard Fairbank of Capital One Financial (Master Entrepreneur), who thrilled the crowd with his story and a great acceptance speech which focused on the gratitude and appreciation of his family.
Tim O’Shaughnessey of LivingSocial (Business & Consumer Services)
Daniel Yates of OPower (Emerging)
Willy Walker of Walker & Dunlop (Financial Services)
Thomas Watkins of Human Genome Sciences (Health Services)
Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality (Hospitality Services), my former Virginia Baseball Club Partner, and owner of one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the USA.
Matt Desch of Iridium Communications (Telecommunications)
The best part of the night was the honoring, for the very first time in 25 years, of 2 Youth Entrepreneurs, including Liam McGhee, a NFTE student. By celebrating entrepreneurship education, E&Y has taken the program to another level!