Program Benefits

Recognized as one of the most prestigious business award programs in the country, the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards celebrate the country’s most innovative business leaders.

Participation in the awards process elevates your company’s brand awareness through exposure to entrepreneurs, sponsors, judges and guests, many of whom may be seeking customers, alliances, M&A or other growth opportunities. The program credentials you to investors, employees, and customers and gives you the opportunity to celebrate achievements and publicly recognize the contributions of the team who made it possible.

Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners receive great publicity in and beyond their communities, which contributes to valuable network-building. It is not just an award — it is an ongoing community of leadership through alumni events, the EY NextGen Academy, access to advisors, speaking engagements and media profiles and interviews.

Awards criteria

It is more than just numbers. Based on a balanced scorecard, awards are given to entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, risk and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

Entrepreneur Of The Year candidates include traditional entrepreneurs who are the founders/leaders of high-growth companies. They also are transformational CEOs who may not have started their company but have been essential to its success. Nominees can be CEOs of public or privately held companies, multi-generational family business leaders or divisional CEOs. The nominee's company must be at least three years old.

The award winners are selected in a number of industry categories by a panel of independent judges, including previous winners of the award, leading CEOs and private capital investors and other regional business leaders. Entrepreneurs may nominate themselves or be nominated by peers and other business leaders.

Continuing education opportunities

There are several ways to enhance your experience with the program:

One-on-one advisory meetings with EY professionals to help guide your business strategy.

Attending the Strategic Growth Forum®, the largest and most prestigious gathering of high-growth entrepreneurs in America, now also in eight regions including Africa, Brazil, India and China.

Attending EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Forum in Monaco, where EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award winners from around the globe compete to be named the ultimate EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year.  

Through mentoring, you have the ability to tap into guidance from those who have been there before you.

Program calendar

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Program honors entrepreneurs regionally in June. All regional honorees are then invited to the Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, California. The gala is the culminating event of the Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. For more information on the Strategic Growth Forum®, please visit

The overall national US winner will compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year title in Monaco in June.

The program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as Jeff Bezos of, Michael Dell of Dell Inc., Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Fred Smith of FedEx, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Richard Schulze of Best Buy, Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani, Mindy Grossman of HSN, Inc., Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Arthur M. Blank of AMB Group, LLC (Home Depot, Atlanta Falcons), Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc., Ruth Fertel of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Maxine Clark of Build-a-Bear, Tom Adams of Rosetta Stone, Matt Szulik of Red Hat, Jayshree Ullal and Andreas Bechtolsheim of Arista Networks, J.W. “Bill” Marriott of Marriott International, Inc., Brad Keywell of Uptake Technologies, Inc. and 2019 winner, Dr. Joe DeSimone of Carbon, Inc.