For the first time in the 30-year history of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® US program, the combined accomplishments of 9,200 visionary men and women have been quantified. The numbers impress. The legacies endure. Download The entrepreneur's purpose to get the full story.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year US winners have founded and built some of the world’s most enduring companies — surpassing US market performance in terms of revenue growth, job creation and longevity. These entrepreneurs developed robust approaches to the most vexing challenges of 21st century business by coupling their ingenuity with the galvanizing power of purpose.
Scaling the business and maintaining an entrepreneurial culture take a shift in leadership style.
Long before there was a war for talent, these entrepreneurs recognized the importance of a strong, engaged employee base.
These business leaders are experts at assessing risk and using that knowledge to forge new paths to growth instead of preserving the present.
What is their collective impact, and how do they consistently outperform their peers?
Companies led by Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners are an economic force, both in terms of the jobs they create and the revenue they produce.
“These winners are beating the survival rate of other businesses. It is a true testament to the vibrancy of an entrepreneurial and innovative culture that is alive and well today in the US.”
- Carolyn Saacke, Chief Operating Officer, Capital Markets; New York Stock Exchange
How do these companies outpace the market?
Outpacing the market
Companies founded by Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners grow faster than other businesses, beating annual US GDP growth by as much as 100%. The winners have taken their businesses public at a rate three times the US average and outperformed the US stock market every year since the program’s inception. Further, they’ve consistently beat US job growth. These results would rank them No. 16 on the list of the world’s largest economies.
How can enduring leadership enable this success?
Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners are more likely to stay with their companies over long periods, creating enduring cultures and long-standing customer relationships that fuel ongoing success. Nearly one-third of the award winners from three decades ago remain at the helm of their organizations today, compared to a national average of just 4%. Fueled by this committed leadership, the survival rates of these organizations far outpace the US market.
Where did these entrepreneurs begin?
There is no singular path to becoming an entrepreneur. These leaders include founders, hired CEOs, proven family business successors and employees who have risen through the ranks. Over the last 30 years, approximately two-thirds of the award winners founded their companies and nearly half of those are serial entrepreneurs – some having established as many as 10 companies before winning the award. The majority of winners were privately held, and 70% had revenues under US$100m at the time they won the award.
What was the role of funding in the growth of these organizations?
Deciding on outside capital
Self-funding strategies in the early years allowed award winners to follow their chosen paths while holding the reins to keep their organizations’ purpose squarely in sight. We asked 500 award winners what their primary source of funding was when they won the award. The results are below.
“If you have a lot of capital, you can easily end up wasting it because you have it to spend.”Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.
1991 award winner
“Venture capital put fuel on the fire needed to get into all markets and help achieve our dream.”
Payal Kadakia, ClassPass
2015 award winner
The power of purpose
Perhaps most notably, these entrepreneurs have tapped into the power of purpose to boost employee retention, attract investors, build brand loyalty and eclipse the competition. We asked 500 past award winners: what is the most important role an entrepreneur plays in society?
“If you don’t have a broader purpose, you are going to have trouble attracting and keeping employees and customers. Just as important, companies with a broader purpose are attracting a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors.”
- Steve Case, 1994 winner, founder of AOL and venture capital firm Revolution, and author of The Third Wave
Celebrating ingenuity in America
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® program was founded in 1986 to honor and support leading entrepreneurs in the US. Through an annual competition with open nominations and an independent judging process, the award is given to leaders of US companies that are at least three years old and have demonstrably outperformed the market in terms of innovation, financial performance, market or niche leadership, managing risk, and commitment to the community. On a global basis EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programs are now conducted in more than 145 cities and 60 countries around the globe and touch 92% of global GDP.