In preparation for the upcoming Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Gala on June 2, I asked four winners from 2017 about their experience with the program, what winning meant to them and their company, and what they think the program means to Utah's business community. It felt a lot like the classic VH1 program Where Are They Now but a lot less tragic.
Sam Malouf of Malouf, Karl Sun of Lucid, and Nate and Vanessa Quigley of Chatbooks were all kind enough to share their insights and answer my questions, which are listed below, followed by the interviewees' responses.
What did winning Entrepreneur Of The Year mean for you and your business?
Sam Malouf: Winning Entrepreneur Of The Year was highly engaging for our employees. It brought them together as a team and created a sense of awareness as to where we were and how far we’d come. The award was really a recognition of our employees and a great way for us to celebrate our success together. Malouf employees love any reason to bring out the cowbells!
Karl Sun: It’s an honor for Lucid to be recognized by others for what we’re building, and it’s been amazing to meet and talk to other companies and entrepreneurs around the country to learn how they are growing their businesses as well. This award validates all the hard work and tremendous effort our employees have put in to creating something unique and innovative that all businesses can use.
Quigleys: It was a milestone moment for us— being finalists was a great opportunity for our team to celebrate. We took a night off, got dressed up, and took some time to smile and appreciate what we’ve built. There’s so much grind for all entrepreneurial teams, and for us it was a special chance to recognize how far we’ve come and take a quick rest, before continuing to climb the mountain the next day!
What advice do you have for this year's finalists?
Sam Malouf: Be yourself. Be a good person, not just a good business person. Get the financials right – there’ can’t be any doubt or questions on that. Demonstrate your leadership in your application. Show how you stand out and are unique.
Karl Sun: All of the finalists are doing great work already, so all I can say is keep doing what’s working. Keep putting in the hard work to build your company, network with other entrepreneurs and really get to know them, and don’t be afraid to learn from one another. When you stop learning, you stop growing. And take every opportunity to pay it forward.
Quigleys: It’s a great opportunity to think at higher level about your business, how you got here, and where you’re going next. And if you’re fortunate enough to be a finalist, it’s a perfect milestone for your team to celebrate.
How does the Entrepreneur Of The Year program benefit Utah's business community?
Sam Malouf: The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is inspiring. It’s an amazing celebration and recognition of doing business here in Utah. You get to see how some of these great businesses operate, and what they’re doing that’s totally new and different. It really highlights Utah as a leader in business, because Utah is a leader in business.
Karl Sun: These types of programs are great because they allow such a varied group of entrepreneurs from all different categories to meet and interact, which is something they may not have otherwise been able to do. And more than that, it gives us all an opportunity to celebrate all the fantastic achievements we’ve made and all the great companies and businesses that are being built right here in Utah. Witnessing the growth in startup activity in Utah has been truly remarkable, and it’s humbling to be a part of a community that, in many ways, is shaping the future of the state.
Quigleys: The Entrepreneur of The Year program creates networks that might not otherwise be created. We met and now feel closer to other finalists that we might not have crossed paths with otherwise. It’s good for state and the entrepreneurial ecosystem when companies and entrepreneurs become friends and can help each other with insights and support.
See? Much more insipiring than finding out that every member of The Back Street Boys is now cruising LinkedIn.
But the inspiration doesn't have to end here. You can spend an entire evening marveling at the accomplishments of this year's winners at the June 2 gala. Tickets are available through tomorrow. To purchase tickets to the Awards, please contact Teresa Michel at UtahEOY@ey.com or +1 801 933 8407.