Last night was the 20th Annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Austin, Texas. These local awards are part of the firm's two-decade spectacular international program which salutes the spirit of entrepreneurship. The gala event did not disappoint.
Four outstanding local business professionals were honored for their excellence, and joined the ranks of the over ninety Austinites who have made their mark on the exciting Central Texas business community. In the previous twenty years two local legends have gone on to claim the E&Y National Entrepreneur of the Year prize (Michael Dell of Dell, Inc and John Mackay of Whole Foods Markets).
This years business winners are:
Clayton Christopher - Sweet Leaf Tea, Inc.
Brett Hatton - Four Hands Furniture
Joel Trammell - NetQOS
And the social entrepreneur of the year is:
Susan McDowell - LifeWorks
Ernst & Young also gave the special "Supporter of Entrepreneurship" award to local venture capitalist, Eric Jones of CenterPoint Ventures. Jones has been directly involved with many of Austin's most successful companies and has helped to foster the growth of the local technology industry.
Austin, Texas is a town that prides itself in having a special entrepreneurial spirit. E&Y's annual event is the crowning accomplishment to those who live to take risks, create companies (and jobs!), and reach change the face of the world.
The evening was followed the 12th Annual "After Party" hosted by the local office of Andrews Kurth LLP. There are really no ways to describe this party, which has taken on a life of its own over the past 12 years. It is like getting an invitation to "Spago" following the Academy Awards. Over 400 people crossed the street to PF Chang's Bistro following the conclusion of the E&Y award ceremony. When I left at 1:00 AM there were still 100 people dancing, drinking and power networking. It is not often you get the Austin business community (who mostly all believe that everyday is "Casual Friday") into tuxedos and formal gowns....and then that many continue the party into the wee hours of the morning!! It was an amazing evening.
Congratulations to all the finalists and award recipients.
Have A Great Day.