Press release

16 Jun 2023 Houston, US

EY Announces Winners for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Gulf South Award

Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates ambitious entrepreneurs who are building a better world

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EY Americas

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Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates ambitious entrepreneurs who are building a better world

Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) is pleased to announce the winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Gulf South Award. Entrepreneur Of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies. The Gulf South – formerly known as the Central South – program celebrates entrepreneurs from Central and South Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. This group of ambitious entrepreneurial leaders was selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous award winners, leading CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders. Gulf South award winners were unveiled during a special celebration on June 15, 2023, to honor and celebrate these business leaders who are building a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous world for all. 

The candidates were evaluated based on their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.

Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners become lifetime members of a global, multi-industry community of entrepreneurs, with exclusive, ongoing access to the experience, insight and wisdom of program alumni and other ecosystem members in over 60 countries — all supported by vast EY resources. Since 1986, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program has recognized more than 11,000 US executives.

“Every year, we are completely blown away by the accomplishments of our Entrepreneur Of The Year Regional Award winners, and 2023 is no different,” said AJ Jordan, EY Americas Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Director. “They are change-makers and champions of business and community, and we are so proud to be honoring them. We can’t wait to see how these leaders will continue to improve lives and disrupt industries.”

The regional winners will next be considered by the National judges for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards, which will be presented in November at the annual Strategic Growth Forum®, one of the nation’s most prestigious gatherings of high-growth, market-leading companies. The 2022 US National Award winners came from the Gulf South: Holly Thaggard and Amanda Baldwin of Supergoop!, based in San Antonio. The Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award in June 2024.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 Gulf South Award are:

Peter Wang | Anaconda | Austin

Omair Tariq | | Austin

Armir Harris | CharterUP | Austin

Mark D. Walker and Keith Smith | Direct Digital Holdings | Houston

Mohammad A. Millwala | DM Clinical Research | Houston

Bret Biggart | Freedom Solar Power | Austin

Joyce Durst | Growth Acceleration Partners | Austin

Steve Altemus | Intuitive Machines, Inc. | Houston

Ludmila Golovine | MasterWord Services, Inc. | Houston

Roger W. Jenkins | Murphy Oil Corporation | Houston

Allison Ellsworth and Stephen Ellsworth | Poppi | Austin

Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt | Solugen | Houston

Daryl Dudum and Matthew Haddad | Specialty1 Partners | Houston

Mike Rypka | Success Foods Management Group LLC, DBA Torchy's Tacos | Austin

Ross Buhrdorf | ZenBusiness | Austin


Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards include presenting sponsors PNC Bank, N.A.; SAP America; and the Kauffman Foundation. In the Gulf South, sponsors also include Colliers International, DLA Piper, Marsh McLennan Agency, ADP, Pierpont Communications and vcfo.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year®

Entrepreneur Of The Year® is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. Entrepreneur Of The Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. National Overall Award winners go on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year® title. Visit

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