The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – More than 150 tech entrepreneurs, executives, investors, advisors and leaders are in the running for the first “Full Steam Ahead Awards” from WRAL Tech Wire. The finalists will be announced later today.

However, you have a chance to cast your vote for the People’s Choice honor.

Which high-tech or life science entrepreneur, executive or investor deserves to win this award?

Send your vote (one only, please) to me (

Deadline to vote is 7 a.m. Thursday.

We’ll announce three finalists then, and the winner will be disclosed at Thursday night’s event.

We’re playing off a railroad theme as we celebrate North Carolina’s tech and life science industries as well as groups and organizations that support tech or utilize the latest in IT to transform their businesses. 

Our panel of judges (entrepreneurs, executives, investors – i.e. people who really know the business) have already nominated candidates in the following categories:

  • Mogul – Top investor/owner
  • Conductor – Board chairman
  • Engineer – CEO
  • Fireman – COO (operations)
  • Brakeman – CFO (spending)
  • Signalman – CIO/CTO (technology/information)
  • Rookie – Top entrepreneur
  • Steward – Mentor/advisor to startups
  • Yardmaster – Developer/visionary driving regional development and/or a type of technology
  • Inventor – Creator/mastermind

The nominees:


  • Jason Caplain, David Jones at Southern Capitol Ventures
  • Steve Vanderwoude
  • Marc Noel
  • Jim Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting
  • Bruce Boehm
  • Steve Wiehe, SciQuest
  • Dennis Gillings, Quintiles
  • NC Idea Fund Partners/David Rizzo and team
  • Buck Goldstein
  • Joe Velk
  • Christy Shaffer, Hatteras Ventures,
  • Intersouth Partners/Dennis Dougherty and Mitch Mumma
  • David Murdock, Dole Food & North Carolina Research Campus
  • Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor
  • Bob Young, Lulu


  • Henry Shelton, Red Hat
  • Henry Kaestner,
  • Chuck Swoboda, Cree
  • Jim Goodnight, SAS
  • Dennis Gillings, Quintiles
  • Ping Fu, Geomagic
  • Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo
  • David Jones, Peak 10
  • Aaron Houghton, iContact and BoostSuite
  • Richard Holcomb, StrikeIron


  • Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat
  • Michael Capps, Epic Games
  • Ron Unger, WorkSmart
  • Joe Colopy, Bronto Software
  • Clifton Vann, Livingston & Haven
  • Steve Wiehe, SciQuest
  • Ben Weinberger, Digitalsmiths
  • David Morken,
  • Fulton Breen, XS
  • John Campbell, Campbell Alliance
  • Brian Hamilton, Sageworks
  • Kent Hudson, Schooldude
  • Joan Siefert Rose, CED
  • Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor
  • James RRese, Tiger Swan
  • David King, LabCorp
  • Robbie Allen, StatSheet/Automated Insight
  • Kip Frey, EvoApp
  • Jud Bowman, Appia
  • Jim Goodnight, SAS
  • Ryan Allis, iContact
  • Jesse Lipton, ShareFile
  • Eric Boggs, Argyle
  • James Avery, Adzerk
  • Mike Doernberg, Reverb Nation
  • Ping Fu, Geomagic
  • Joe Freddoso, MCNC
  • Joe Carr, Semprius
  • Cindy Marshall, AT&T North Carolina
  • Victoria Haynes, RTI
  • Norris Tolson, NC Biotech Center
  • Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo
  • Bob Freedman,
  • Joe Epperson, MaxPoint
  • Chuck Swoboda, Cree


  • Alan Hughes, BCBSNC
  • Tony Cockerham, Duke Net Communications
  • David Spitz, ChannelAdvisor
  • Chaz Felix, Bronto Software
  • Tobi Walter, Shoeboxed
  • Bob Pickens, Secure Enterprise Computing
  • Tom Kurke, Geomagic
  • Tom Jacobson, MCNC
  • John Murdock,
  • Vince Beese, Amadesa
  • Scott Frederick, Automated Insights
  • Marco Fregenal, EvoApp
  • Earl Philmon, NDSL


  • Bruce Bocher, Liquidia
  • Ricky Ayers, Work Smart
  • Dana Guzzo, Martin Marietta
  • Tom Staab, Biocryst
  • Richard Eisinstadt, Tranzyme
  • Charlie Peters, Red Hat
  • John Kuntzweil, Cree
  • Pat Moody, MCNC
  • Toby Walter, Shoeboxed
  • Tim Grist, Charles & Covard


  • Rob Simora, Railinc
  • Jim Baxley, Square 1 Bank
  • Lee Congdon, Red Hat
  • Jeff Stovall, City of Charlotte
  • Gail Roper, City of Raleigh
  • Ralph Kasuba, iContact
  • Delisa Alexander, Red Hat
  • Tim Sweeny, Epic
  • Keith Collins, SAS
  • Joe Davy, EvoApp
  • Adam Covati, Argyle Social
  • Nathaniel Talbot, Speedly
  • Robert Hubbard, Reverb Nation


  • Dara Keatts and Jess Shorland, Pengo Loans
  • Andrew Fu, Goodfit
  • Jud Bowman, Appia
  • Peter Bourne,
  • James Avery, Adzerk
  • Josh Whiton, Transloc
  • Eric Boggs, Argyle Social
  • Keith Shephard, Imangi Studios
  • Matt Williamson, Windsor Circle
  • Aaron Houghton, iContact and BoostSuite
  • Jesse Lipton, ShareFile
  • Ryan Allis, iContact
  • Robbie Allen, Automated Insight


  • Chris Heavly and Dave Neal, Triangle Startup Factory
  • Tom Miller, N.C. State
  • Council for Entrepreneurial Development team
  • Dhruv Patel, CED
  • Charles Buenzli, CED Venture Mentoring Service
  • Lee Buck
  • Brian Handly, StepLeader
  • Ken Romley, Zift Solutions
  • Charles Buenzli, BlackBook Solutions Group
  • Sean O’Leary, StrikeIron
  • Steve Nelson, Wakefield Group
  • Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor
  • John Austin, Joystick Labs
  • Bill Warner, Cary Innovation Center
  • Andy Schwab, First Flight Venture Center


  • Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat
  • Pam Lewis, Venture AVL, Asheville
  • Michael Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting
  • Keith Collins, SAS
  • John Covan, 6Fusion
  • Rick West, Advanced Liquid Logic
  • Chris Heavly, Triangle Startup Factory
  • Justin Gehtland, Relevance Software
  • Merrette Moore
  • Jason Caplain, Southern Capitol Ventures
  • Adam Klein, Durham Chamber of Commerce
  • Joe Procopio, Automated Insight and The Exit Event
  • Robbie Allen. Automated Insight
  • Joan Myers
  • Jame Smith Patterson, formerly eNC
  • Monica Doss, formerly CED
  • Joe Freddoso, MCNC
  • Charles Hamner, The Hamner Institutes
  • Josh Whiton, Transloc


  • Joe DeSimone, UNC and NCSU, multiple ventures
  • Tom Dempsey, Sylvan Sport
  • Ric Boucher
  • Cliff Bleszinski, Epic Games
  • Miles Palmer, 8 Rivers Capital
  • Charles Hamner, The Hamner Institutes
  • Matt Williamson
  • Robbie Allen, Automated Insights
  • Aaron Houghton, iContact and BoostSuite
  • Jud Bowman, Appia

For the five corporate award nominees, read here.

So who will win?

Join us Thursday, May 24, at the Fullsteam Brewery in Durham and find out.

You need to register today. There’s no charge – but space is limited.

Finally, we also will have a “people’s choice” winner – someone nominated and selected by Tech Wire readers.

Reserve your space today.