Press release
25 Apr 2023  | Austin, TX, US

EY Announces Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Gulf South Finalists

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Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates ambitious entrepreneurs who are building bolder futures

Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) today announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Gulf South Award. The Gulf South – formerly known as the Central South – program celebrates entrepreneurs from Central and South Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Now in its 37th year, Entrepreneur Of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for transformative entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies who are building a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous world for all.

These 45 entrepreneurs were selected as finalists by an independent panel of judges. 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.

The 2023 Gulf South finalists are:

Mo Vij | 365Labs | Baton Rouge, La.

Peter Wang | Anaconda | Austin

Brooks Bassler | BB's Tex-Orleans | Houston

Amber Glassman | Bryan Anthonys | Austin

Carlos De Aldecoa | Cadeco Industries & Affiliated Companies | Houston

Omair Tariq | | Austin

Derek Maetzold | Castle Biosciences, Inc. | Friendswood, Texas

Armir Harris | CharterUP | Austin

Neha Sampat | Contentstack Inc | Austin

Brett Hurt |, a PBC | Austin

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

Mohammad A. Millwala | DM Clinical Research | Houston

Dean Drako | Eagle Eye Networks | Austin

Hardy Murchison | Encino Energy LLC | Houston

Bret Biggart | Freedom Solar Power | Austin

Joyce Durst | Growth Acceleration Partners | Austin

Craig Taylor | Iapetus Holdings LLC | Houston

Johann Moonesinghe | inKind Cards, Inc. | Austin

Steve Altemus | Intuitive Machines, Inc. | Houston

Arran Stewart | | Austin

Christopher Anderson | Ledge Lounger Inc | Katy, Texas

Ludmila Golovine | MasterWord Services, Inc. | Houston

Eduardo J. Morales | Mexcor International | Houston

Prasad Gundumogula | Mondee Holdings, Inc. | Austin

Roger W. Jenkins | Murphy Oil Corporation | Houston

William Pate | Par Pacific | Houston

Allison Ellsworth and Stephen Ellsworth | Poppi | Austin

Cody Nath | Refined Technologies | Spring, Texas

Tom Weber | Removery | Austin

Chris Howard | Softeq Development Corporation | Houston

Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt | Solugen | Houston

Matthew Haddad and Daryl Dudum | Specialty1 Partners | Houston

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

Trevor Best | Syzygy Plasmonics | Houston

Chad Kalland and Kenny Rouse | Vecta Environmental Services, LLC | Gonzales, La.

Michael Wilson | Vibrantz Technologies | Houston

John Magee | VLS Environmental Solutions | Houston

Ting Qiao | Wan Bridge Group | Houston

Mathias Ihlenfeld | woom bikes USA | Austin

Ross Buhrdorf | ZenBusiness | Austin

“This year’s finalists are ambitious entrepreneurs set on transforming their industries and communities,” said Anna Tallent, Gulf South Program Co-Director and Assurance Partner at EY. “They have been carefully selected by our independent panel of judges for their unwavering commitment to their companies, customers and communities, and we are thrilled to recognize them.”

Regional award winners will be announced on June 15 during a special celebration. The winners will then 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 Entrepreneur Of The Year program has recognized more than 11,000 entrepreneurs throughout the US since its inception in 1986, and it has grown to recognize business leaders across 145 cities in over 60 countries around the world.


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, 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

About EY Private

As Advisors to the ambitious™, EY Private professionals possess the experience and passion to support private businesses and their owners in unlocking the full potential of their ambitions. EY Private teams offer distinct insights born from the long EY history of working with business owners and entrepreneurs. These teams support the full spectrum of private enterprises including private capital managers and investors and the portfolio businesses they fund, business owners, family businesses, family offices and entrepreneurs. Visit

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