Meet the 2023 Bay Area honorees
Congratulations to our region’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners, who were selected by an independent panel of judges based on their demonstration of long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes. Finalists were recognized and winners were announced during the regional celebration.
Regional winners went on to compete for National recognition. National finalists and winners were announced during the National awards gala.
2023 Bay Area winners
Dr. Muddu Sudhakar
Co-Founder and CEO
Dr. Muddu Sudhakar is the Co-Founder and CEO of Aisera.
Aisera is the world’s first generative AI-driven service experience platform for automated enterprise employee, customer, ops, and voice experiences. It offers consumer-like self-service resolutions that automate support for IT, sales, and customer service operations. It uses a combination of conversational AI, generative AI, workflow automation, natural language processing and natural language understanding, neural search, analytics and security.
Aisera delivers personalized omnichannel service experiences offering enterprises a combination of conversational AI, conversational automation, and AI assist capabilities that amplify customer experience. It offers automation capabilities delivered through AI-driven ITSM, Customer Service, and AIOps solutions that integrate seamlessly with leading platforms like Salesforce and ServiceNow.
Aisera’s generative AI capabilities, integrated with a global taxonomy and ontology library that provides 5B+ pre-built intent library and 1T+ phrases, enables organizations to achieve high levels of AI-driven automation and resolution with over 95% accuracy while providing human-like conversations with end-users.
Co-Founder and CEO
2023 National finalist
Yevgeny Dibrov is the Co-Founder and CEO of Armis.
Armis, the leading asset visibility and security company, provides the industry’s first unified asset intelligence platform designed to address the new extended attack surface that connected assets create. Fortune 100 companies trust Armis’ real-time and continuous protection to see with full context all managed, unmanaged assets across IT, cloud, IoT devices, medical devices (IoMT), operational technology (OT), industrial control systems (ICS) and 5G. Armis provides passive cyber asset management, risk management and automated enforcement.
Co-Founder and CEO
Rachel Zillner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Clutch.
Clutch is an award-winning certified micro and women owned business, created by two lifetime corporate employees who wanted to use their skills of matching good people to quality work in a bigger way. Founded on the desire to serve our client’s needs, we work to match organizations with resources they dream about. Clutch supports the goals and growth metrics of each organization; striving to fulfill their strategic needs without friction and always with a smile.
Founder and CEO
Jack Kudale is the Founder and CEO of Cowbell.
Cowbell pioneered adaptive cyber insurance to reinvent how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) experience cyber coverage. Adaptive cyber coverage evolves with cyber threats and exposures, unlike traditional cyber policies that are revised only once a year. Cowbell relies on thousands of data points per account to continuously assess risk, benchmark the risk against a pool of 30 million U.S. SMEs (92% of the US market), and enable policyholders to dynamically remediate exposures and prevent cyber incidents.
Cowbell’s mission is to make relevant, effective cyber insurance protection accessible to organizations of any size, while closing any insurability gaps that take place over the lifetime of a policy. The result is cyber insurance policies that remain aligned with the cyber exposures of the covered organizations - whether due to evolving threats, an expanded digital footprint or new employees and offices. In its unique AI-based approach to risk selection and pricing, Cowbell’s continuous underwriting platform, powered by Cowbell Factors, compresses the insurance process from submission to issue within minutes.
Co-Founder and CEO
Honor Technology, Inc.
Seth Sternberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of Honor Technology, Inc.
Honor is the world’s largest home care network with the most advanced care platform. The Honor Care Platform combines local care, centralized operations, and best in class technology to deliver the highest quality care. This combination of human touch and technology can adapt and be tailored across our multiple home care networks. And it positions Honor to rapidly scale quality care for aging adults worldwide. When Seth Sternberg saw that his mom was starting to slow down, he brought the idea of caring for aging adults to Sandy Jen, Monica Lo, and Cameron Ring. Together, they founded Honor in 2014, scaled a home care agency, built a national network of agencies, and developed a technology platform to strengthen the relationship between Care Pro and Client.
Co-Founder and CEO
Sumir Meghani is the Co-Founder and CEO of Instawork.
Founded in 2016, Instawork is the leading flexible work app for local, hourly professionals. Its digital marketplace connects thousands of businesses and more than four million workers, filling a critical role in local economies. Instawork has been featured on CBS News, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Associated Press, and more. In 2022, Instawork was ranked in the top 10% of the country’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. 5000 and was included in the Forbes Next Billion Dollar Startup list. Instawork was also named the 2022 ACE Award recipient for “Best Innovation,” one of the “Best Business Apps” by Business Insider. Instawork helps businesses in the food & beverage, hospitality, and warehouse/logistics industries fill temporary and permanent job opportunities in more than 30 markets across the U.S. and Canada.
Founder and CEO
Maria Davidson is the Founder and CEO of Kojo.
Kojo is the construction industry's leading materials management platform. Today, more than $300 billion a year is spent on commercial construction materials every year in the US, most of which is managed with pen, paper and excel. This leads to billions of dollars of waste, huge environmental damage, and endless manual entry work. Kojo provides an all-in-one system to solve that, streamlining every step in the procurement and inventory management process from start to finish. By connecting field, office, warehouse, accounting teams, and vendors, Kojo gives contractors visibility into real-time materials spending and usage, automates workflows, and increase labor productivity. Contractors have access to a network of thousands of vendors to source the best prices and availability, find cost savings, and reduce material waste. Kojo is trusted by hundreds of contractors and utilized by thousands of construction professionals across the country every day in a wide variety of industries including electrical, mechanical, concrete, drywall, flooring, and site-preparation. To date, Kojo has powered over 10,000 projects across the US, saved contractors 75% of the time they spend on manual data entry, and reduced project waste by 90%.
Praveen Penmetsa is the CEO of Monarch Tractor.
Farmers today face numerous challenges including labor shortages, effects of climate change, safety, ongoing pandemic impacts, scrutiny for sustainability demands, seasonal risks, government regulations, and more. Further to this, agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries in the U.S. with tractor-related injuries and deaths being a significant contributor. Monarch’s electric, self-driving smart tractor combines electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmer’s existing operations, maximize yields to cut overhead costs and emissions, and increase labor productivity and safety.
Setting a new standard for farm safety, the MK-V includes collision prevention, human detection, and power take-off (PTO) protection. The tractor will stop moving if it detects a human within six feet of it, and the PTO will automatically shut off if the system detects a person within one foot of the PTO.
Additionally, today’s farmers are expected to keep up with the demands of a growing population. By automating some of the time-intensive, mundane farming processes, Monarch’s autonomous solutions can help increase labor productivity and conserve inputs on the farm, such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
Quick Quack Car Wash
Jason Johnson is the CEO of Quick Quack Car Wash.
Since its inception, Quick Quack has been disrupting the car wash industry to be Fast. Clean, Loved. Everywhere.™ From our professionally dressed team members and colorfully lit showrooms to our environmentally friendly soaps we are committed to providing our customers with a clean car at each of our bright and welcoming facilities. We do all of this with a focus on culture, delivering an exceptional loved experience in the way we treat our team members, customers, and communities. We have invested in our communities with over 360 charitable fundraisers over the last five years and continue to prioritize making a difference every day, everywhere we operate. We are a data-driven organization that increases revenue through our subscription model, develops new sites through our vertically integrated development platform, and optimizes site selection, customer engagement, and marketing through our technology platform.
Founder and CEO
The EVERY Company
Arturo Elizondo is the Founder and CEO of The EVERY Company.
The EVERY Co. is a global leader in precision fermentation and is the creator of the world’s first animal-free, nature-equivalent egg proteins. Charting a course toward a more resilient and transformative tomorrow, EVERY is powering the next phase of food systems resilience, decoupling the world’s proteins from the animals that make them.
Led by Co-Founder and CEO Arturo Elizondo, EVERY and its revolutionary proteins represent a paradigm shift in the way we grow, deliver and consume protein, with technology unlocking better outcomes for flavor, texture, functionality and availability over both traditional and plant-based options. The company’s portfolio includes EVERY PepsinTM and the world’s first animal-free ‘nearly invisible’ proteins—EVERY ProteinTM and EVERY EggWhiteTM.
Accelerating the world’s transition to animal-free protein, EVERY is scaling up production in partnership with BioBrew from AB InBev, the world’s largest fermentation company. Together with leaders in the global food and beverage industries, EVERY has brought products to market across a range of applications including cold-pressed juice, baked goods such as macarons, and beverage alcohol, with more to come.
EVERY’s proprietary AI platform, Ovonaut, draws on ML and rich data to speed discovery, scale-up, and go-to-market for EVERY’s proteins—more rapidly enabling the foods of tomorrow, today.
2023 Bay Area finalists
Dr. Amit Etkin is the Founder and CEO of Alto Neuroscience.
Alto Neuroscience is pioneering precision psychiatry by developing targeted medicines to help patients get better faster. Differences in individuals’ biology impact how they respond to treatment. Alto’s Precision Psychiatry Platform™ measures brain biomarkers by analyzing EEG activity, behavioral task performance, wearable data, genetics, and other factors to match each patient with the right Alto drug. The company’s work in identifying and categorizing core domains of mental function (cognition, emotion, and sleep processes) has resulted in a multiple modality approach that supports robust drug-response predictions. Alto’s clinical-stage pipeline includes first- or best-in-class novel drug candidates in depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions, resulting in the broadest and most-advanced precision psychiatry effort.
Anthony Romano is the CEO of CREtelligent.
CREtelligent provides decision analytics, early insights, end-to-end transactional due diligence solutions, and on-going asset monitoring via an innovative platform RADIUS to the commercial real estate ecosystem. We have over 750 clients including some of the nations largest CRE broker, banks, credit unions, REITS, owner/operators, law firms, and insurance companies.
Clint Sharp is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cribl.
Cribl makes open observability a reality for today’s tech professionals. Cribl’s mission is to create an open ecosystem of data and give customers full choice and control over their data. Cribl’s open observability suite includes its flagship product Cribl Stream as well as Cribl Edge and Cribl Search, which were both launched in 2022. The product suite is vendor-agnostic, a unique approach in an industry dominated by vendor lock-in. This open approach gives customers control over their data, enables them to avoid vendor lock-in and do what they need to do with their data, get more out of their existing investments, and control costs, which is increasingly important as data volumes increase and budgets have not kept pace.
Mike Fitzsimmons is the CEO of Crosschq.
Hiring Intelligence expert Crosschq provides Talent leaders with the data and analytics needed to optimize recruiting and continuously improve Quality of Hire. Crosschq’s Hiring Intelligence Cloud™ connects people data with tangible business outcomes and powers a set of Hiring Intelligence applications that span the entire hiring process. Crosschq directly ensures the success of recruiters and talent professionals by arming them with data and insights to become strategic leaders within their business.
Warren Hogarth is the Co-Founder and CEO of Empower Finance, Inc.
Empower is a fintech on a mission to expand access to fair credit and give anyone the opportunity to improve their financial security and mobility. Our hero products are Empower Cash Advance and the forthcoming Empower Thrive line of credit, which use alternative data to give people access to funds between paychecks. Both are supported by money management features to help people develop greater financial self-sufficiency: Automatic Savings, Spend Tracking, and the Empower Card.
Empower Cash Advance: Offers paycheck advances of up to $250 with instant delivery. No interest or late fees. No credit check to qualify.
Empower Thrive: Line of credit starts at $200 and grows to $1,000 with every monthly on-time payment. Comes with customizable payment plans to help build positive credit history. No credit score or security deposit to qualify.
Empower Automatic Savings: Tool detects precisely when and how much an individual can afford to save and then automatically transfers the amount from their checking account to their AutoSave account. Funds can be withdrawn at any time.
Empower Card: Checking account that delivers paychecks up to 2 days faster, offers cashback up to 10%, and charges no overdraft fees.
Nima Farzan is the CEO and Board Director of Kinnate Biopharma Inc.
Kinnate Biopharma Inc. is a clinical-stage precision oncology company focused on expanding on the promise of targeted therapies for those battling cancer. The company is developing medicines for known oncogenic drivers where there are no approved targeted drugs and to overcome the limitations of marketed cancer therapies, such as non-responsiveness or acquired and intrinsic resistance. Kinnate has two lead clinical programs being studied in solid tumors with RAF, NRAS and FGFR-driven alterations, and is rapidly progressing a pipeline of additional small molecule drug candidates as part of the Kinnate Discovery Engine. The company is driven by the urgency and knowledge that patients are waiting for new, effective cancer medicines.
Derek Lo is the Founder and CEO of Medallion.
Medallion is the first solution built from the ground up to help healthcare organizations rise above regulatory complexity and offload their healthcare operations through a single, unified platform. By handling medical state licensure, payer contracting and enrollment, credentialing, ongoing monitoring and more, Medallion makes it faster, easier and less expensive for our partners to operate. Since 2020, Medallion has saved 250,000+ administrative hours for leading healthcare organizations. We evolve operations, so healthcare organizations and their providers are free to evolve care.
Prajit Nanu is the Co-Founder and CEO of Nium.
Nium was founded on the mission to build the global payments infrastructure of tomorrow, today. With the onset of the on-demand economy, its single platform for global payments and card issuing is shaping how banks, fintech's, and businesses everywhere to disburse and collect funds instantly across borders. Its payout network supports 100 currencies and spans 190+ countries, 100 of which in real-time. Funds can be disbursed to accounts, wallets, and cards and collected locally in 35 markets. Nium’s growing card issuance business is already available in 34 countries. Nium holds regulatory licenses and authorizations in over 40 countries, enabling seamless onboarding, rapid integration, and compliance – regardless of geography. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with regional offices in Singapore, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bengalaru, and Chennai.
Melissa Bamberg is the Founder and CEO of Nodpod.
Nodpod is a boot-strapped, 100% female-owned company based in California. We are a sleep wellness company offering award-winning weighted sleep products.
Jeremy Almond is the Co-Founder and CEO of Paystand.
Paystand is the largest B2B receivables, payables and payments network running on a commercial blockchain. It is the only zero-fee B2B payments option for the world’s two leading ERPs (enterprise resource planners) NetSuite and Sage Intacct. The company attained unicorn status in the summer of 2022 with its acquisition of Mexico-based Yaydoo, the LATAM leader in accounts payable, cash flow management, and liquidity solutions. Today, Paystand has a significant presence across the United States and Latin America, with $5 billion in payments volume and more than 500,000 corporate customers.
Paystand makes it possible for businesses to eliminate paper checks and digitize receivables, while automating payment processing. Their Payments-as-a-Service (PaaS) model offers a monthly flat rate and zero-fee transactions, so Paystand clients can scale their revenue without scaling their fees. Paystand also recently released the world’s first Ethereum-based dynamic discounting application that allows AR teams to offer buyers a discount if they pay early, giving businesses quicker access to cash and reducing DSO (days sales outstanding).
Hardeep Gulati is the CEO of PowerSchool Group LLC.
PowerSchool’s mission is to power the education ecosystem with unified technology that helps educators and students realize their full potential in their own way. With more than two decades of experience delivering innovative, best-in-class education technology, PowerSchool connects students, teachers, administrators, and parents, with the shared goal of improving student outcomes. From the office to the classroom to the home, PowerSchool helps schools and districts efficiently manage state reporting and related compliance, special education, finance, human resources, talent, enrollment, attendance, funding, learning, instruction, grading, assessments, and analytics—all in one unified platform. As the leading provider of cloud-based software for K-12 education, PowerSchool provides a unified technology platform that includes the core system of record used by districts and schools, leveraging their rich data to deliver insights and analytics to improve education outcomes. PowerSchool supports over 50 million students globally and more than 15,000 customers, including more than 90 of the top 100 districts by student enrollment in the United States, and sells solutions in more than 90 countries.
CJ MacDonald is the Founder and CEO of Step Mobile Inc.
It isn’t easy learning about money. Schools don’t teach you and families don’t always talk about finances. Traditional banks make it even harder to get ahead by charging fees for standard services like checking accounts, atm's and even spending cards.
Step is a next generation financial services company building the best banking experience to help teens and young adults achieve financial independence and knowledge at an earlier age. Step is founded by a team with 50+ years of combined financial technology experience. Our mission is to create a bank that gives you the tools to become smarter with your money and reward you along your financial journey.
Step gives you a free bank account with zero fees. Track your balance and see your transactions from the Step mobile app. You can also send and receive money instantly on your phone, shop with a personalized spending card and earn rewards for inviting your friends to Step. In addition, you can earn rewards or invest in Stocks on Step.
Kristy Kim is the CEO of Tomocredit.
TomoCredit is built by young immigrant founders who felt the pain of getting a credit card as a foreign national. We are dedicated to building the smartest card that does not require a credit score for approval.
Millions of Americans can’t access affordable credit, simply because they have no credit history. Without good credit, everything becomes difficult and more expensive— auto loans, insurance rates, mortgage— even jobs applications are affected by your credit score.
We are based in the heart of San Francisco. We are excited to help you get the card that will help you BUILD credit and SAVE money.
Shashank Dubey is the Co-Founder and CRO, Shub Bhowmick is the Co-Founder and CEO, and Sumit Mehra is the Co-Founder and CTO of Tredence Inc.
Tredence is a global data science solutions provider focused on solving the last mile problem in AI. The 'last mile' is the gap between insight creation and value realization. Headquartered in San Jose, the company embraces a vertical-first approach and an outcome-driven mindset to help clients win and accelerate value realization from their analytics investments. Tredence is 2000 -plus employees strong with offices in San Jose, Foster City, Chicago, London, Toronto, and Bangalore, with the largest companies in retail, CPG, hi-tech, telecom, healthcare, travel, and industrials as clients.
Craig Flynn is the CEO of WindsorONE.
WindsorONE is the manufacturer of the WindsorONE line of Trim Boards, Specialty Boards and Moldings. All WindsorONE products are manufactured in the USA, with mills located in CA and VA. At WindsorONE craftsmanship pays. This is why WindsorONE has invested in becoming vertically integrated allowing them to control 100% of the manufacturing process from source to sale. This attention to quality has allowed WindsorONE to become known as the premier primed, finger jointed wood trim product in the market.
WindsorONE is always investing in new technology. One of those technologies is a Protection Process that gives WindsorONE products a 30-year warranty against rot, insects and mold. What makes this process unique is that material is durable for exterior projects, and safe for interior applications.
These are just a few of the reasons why craftsmen throughout the country ask for WindsorONE at their local lumberyard.
Desmond Lim is the Co-Founder and CEO of Workstream.
Workstream transforms the way that deskless workers work, starting from automating their workflows - sourcing, hiring and onboarding employees. We aim to be the end to end HR management system for deskless workers. Over 60% of the workers in the world are deskless workers.
Melissa Wong is the Co-Founder and CEO of Zipline.
Zipline is the only solution on the market that was born out of real experience in retail and designed to suit a very specific use case: better communication that leads to better store execution. Zipline’s unified platform makes it possible to measure execution because it surfaces actionable insights on what stores need to know (communication) and do (tasks) to every level of the organization. Today, 80+ best-in-class retailers depend on Zipline to align and empower their store teams worldwide. By bringing together frontline communications, task management, learning, resources, insights, and more, Zipline ensures that everyone from HQ to the front line feels connected to their brand and inspired by their work. The company has an NPS of 78 and was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. Store teams using Zipline have a 92% average team adoption rate of the software. What’s more, CB Insights ranked Zipline as one of the 100 most promising B2B retail tech companies.