The 30th year anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award program will be held June 15 to recognize some of area’s most innovative, financially savvy and committed business entrepreneurs. Ernst & Young LLP assurance partner and EY Entrepreneur of the Year Mid-Atlantic Program Director Dan Kotter spoke with WashingtonExec about the categories growing in popularity and competitiveness, how Mid-Atlantic region winners fare at the national competition, and the high school entrepreneurs that will be honored at the event.
WashingtonExec: What are you most looking forward to at the event?
Dan Kotter: The 700 people who are brought together to recognize and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of some of the areas greatest entrepreneurs.
WashingtonExec: What industries have you seen grow in the Mid-Atlantic region? What categories continue to become more competitive each year?
Dan Kotter: The industries where we continue to see growth are IT security and health (from biotech to the IT behind the infrastructure). The categories that are historically competitive are technology and government contracting.
WashingtonExec: How do the winners of the Mid-Atlantic region tend to fair when they go on to compete for the awards at the national level?
Dan Kotter: Last year, we had three named national finalists and one overall winner (Michelle Kang of Cognosante), so we typically fare well at the national level.
WashingtonExec: 2016 marks the 30th year of the awards, do you all have something special planned to commemorate the milestone at the event?
Dan Kotter: I was informed that my suggestion of ‘80s hair and bringing back my rock band was not such a good idea, so we decided to celebrate in other ways. We invited many of our alumni back to join in the remarkable aspect of EY’s commitment to entrepreneurs; not many programs last for three years, let alone 30.
WashingtonExec: Are you able to tell us a little bit about the high school entrepreneur this year or will that be revealed at the event? How are past winners doing, could you give us an update on them?
Dan Kotter: Through our support of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), we honor the area’s annual high school student competition winner, or winners. This year the winners were Justin Godby and William Leach. They founded GetYourHeat, a shoe consignment and retail business born out of their personal passion and love for shoes, especially sneakers.
Most of the past NFTE winners have gone off to college and still focus on their entrepreneurial endeavors.