The 2014 Chattanooga Startup Awards winners were announced Thursday.
Startup Community Leadership Award: The Company Lab
Minority Excellence Award: A.I.R. Labs
B2B Tech Excellence Award: Ambition
B2C Tech Excellence Award: Bellhops
Hardware Excellence Award: Variable
Healthcare Excellence Award: WeCounsel
3D Printing Excellence Award: Feetz
Retail Excellence Award: Southern Sqweeze
Food & Beverage Excellence Award: Chattanooga Whiskey Co.
Outdoor Excellence Award: RootsRated
Manufacturing Excellence Award: Granola
Veteran-Owned Startup Excellence Award: Big Frog Brewery
Restaurant Excellence Award: The Farmer's Daughter and Copacetic Coffee
Service Provider Excellence Award: Spartan Systems
Excellence in Finance Award: Chattanooga Renaissance Fund
Excellence in Education Award: The LibraryBox Project
Excellence in Advocacy Award: The Company Lab
Excellence in Promotion Award: The Company Lab
Startup Journalist of the Year: Chloé Morrison/Nooga.com
"Startup-Friendly" Vendor Award: Society of Work
Bootstrapper Award: Pure Sodaworks
A restaurant committed to conscious consumerism and an outdoor accessories company whose sewing floor is in the Scenic City were among Chattanooga's first Startup Awards winners.
The awards, the first of their kind for the city, came about after representatives from about 10 local companies or organizations with entrepreneurial bents decided it was high time for the startup community to recognize itself.
"These were startup awards for the startup community from the startup community," said Sheldon Grizzle, a partner at Chattanooga-based Spartan Ventures, who was on the team that moved the idea forward. "We, as a group, intentionally didn't want it to be from one group or another."
The "community" was not just the startups themselves, as far as the awards were concerned. It also included the groups that contribute capital to them and the organizations that connect budding entrepreneurs with that capital, among others.
The Farmer's Daughter and Copacetic Coffee won the Restaurant Excellence Award. The husband-wife team of Ann Keener and Mike Mayo founded The Farmer's Daughter in North Chattanooga with a mission of supporting small agriculture, in particular farms with ethical principles.
"The reason we're doing business with the people we're doing business with is because the quality is good," Mayo said. Chattanooga roaster Velo supplies Copacetic Coffee, and the couple turned to local artisans and craftspeople to furnish the cafe.
Granola, founded by brothers Kelsey and Conner Scott, is committed to creating high-quality, handcrafted accessories such as backpacks and climber chalk bags. Granola is transparent about its sourcing and makes all of its products, which are guaranteed for life, in Chattanooga.
To qualify for the awards, companies had to be less than three years old, have under $1 million in revenue annually and be within a 55-mile radius of Chattanooga.
The panel of judges that picked the winners was: Alex Birnbaum, chief information officer of the Lighthouse CFO Group; Ben Brown, CEO of Swift Wing Ventures; Ben Fischer, CEO of Signal Energy Constructors; Bill Kilbride, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Emma Regev, chief legal officer of PUSHTOSTART; Kristina Montague, managing partner of The JumpFund; Mark McKnight, e-commerce & marketing director for Rock/Creek; Sharon Wong, director of business development for Cisco Systems; Sheila Boyington, CEO of Thinking Media and Learning Blade.
Judges recused themselves from voting in categories for which their companies or organizations were among the finalists.
Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at email@example.com or 423-757-6406.