From the smallest and newest of ventures to Triangle tech giants, executives and entrepreneurs as well as corporations shared spotlight at WRALTechWire’s second Full Steam Ahead awards.
A crowd representing the best and brightest of the Triangle’s technology and life science communities assembled at Full Steam Brewery in Durham on Thursday to see which individuals and companies would take home top honors. A sizable group of entrepreneurs also attended from Wilmington.
With two exceptions – life-time service and special achievement – all winners were determined by WRALTechWire subscribers. The voting was much heavier and much closer than a year ago with hundreds of people weighing in.
The big winners included and its Republic Wireless venture with five corporate and individual honors.
Several individuals were recognized more than once, including Adam Klein of The American Underground, Rob Cotter of Organic Transit and David Morken of Republic/Bandwidth.
Fifteen individual honors and five corporate awards were presented, but there was one joint award with three entrepreneurs sharing the “People’s Choice” honors.
Another nine people were recognized in a new category playing off the railroad theme: The “I Think I Can” awards.
The 11 Full Steam Ahead individual winners:
  • Mogul – Top Investor/Owner: Chris Heivly and David Neal, The Startup Factory

The finalists:

Jason Caplain and David Jones, Bull City Partners
Chris Heivly and David Neal, The Startup Factory
Dave Rizzo and Lister Delgado, IDEA Fund Partners
Christy Shaffer, Hatteras Ventures
Karen LeVert, Southeast TechInventures

  • Conductor – Top Board Chairman: Henry Kaestner, Bandwidth

The finalists:

Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor
Hugh Shelton, Red Hat
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games
Michael Zapata, Protochips
Henry Kaestner, Bandwidth
Ron De Lange, Tekelec/Oracle
Christy Shaffer, Hatteras Ventures

  • Engineer – Top CEO: David Morken, Bandwidth

The finalists:

Brooks Bell, HQ Raleigh
Joy Parr Drach, Advanced Animal Diagnostics
Tom Pike, Quintiles
Stephen Wiehe, SciQuest
Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor
Robbie Allen, Automated Insight
Aaron Houghton, BoostSuite
Justin Miller, WedPics
Jud Bowman, Appia
David Morken, Bandwidth

  • Fireman – Top COO (Operations): Chris Chuang, Bandwidth

The finalists:

Tom Kurke, Geomagic
Scott Fredenic, Automated Insights
Tobias Walter, Shoeboxed
Chris Chuang, Bandwidth

  • Brakeman – Top CFO (Finance): Kevin Gordon, Quintiles

The finalists:

John Baule, ChannelAdvisor
Kevin Gordon, Quintiles
Karen Adams, Aerial Biopharma and Exodos Life Science
Bennett Love, BioKier Inc.

  • Signalman – Top CIO/CTO (Technology/Information): Steven Lorenz, Neuse River Networks

The finalists:

Nate Talbot, Spreedly
Steven Lorenz, Neuse River Networks
Robert Simora, Railinc.
Jay Strum, G1 Therapeutics
Ben Yerxa, Liquidia Technologies

  • Rookie – Top Entrepreneur: Coleman Greene, Sqord

The finalists:

Ginger Dosier, BioMASON
Leigh Ann Ryals, Able Device
Todd John, PlayerSpace
Ryan Becklland and Drew Schiller, Validic
Anil Chawla, ArchiveSocial
Jake Stauch, Neurospire
Coleman Greene, Sqord

  • Steward – Mentor/Advisor to startups: Adam Klein, American Underground

The finalists:

Brooks Bell, HQ Raleigh
Adam Klein, American Underground
Dhruv Patel, Council for Entrepreneurial Development
Tom Looney, Seahawk Innovation Fund
Terri Lomax, Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Economic Development NC State University

  • Yardmaster – Developer/Visionary driving regional development and/or a type of technology: Adam Klein and Michael Goodmon, American Underground

The finalists:

Andy Schwab, First Flight Venture Center
Adam Klein and Michael Goodmon, American Underground
Brooks Bell, HG Raleigh
Sara Day Evans, Accelerating Appalachia

  • Inventor – Creator/mastermind: Tim Sweeney, Epic Games

The finalists:

Rob Cotter, Organic Transit
Ping Fu, Geomagic
Bob Metzger, Kyma Technologies
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games
Jason Shih, BioResource International

People’s Choice: David Morken, Bandwidth; Rob Cotter, Organic Transit ; Andy Schwab, First Flight Venture Center


The five corporate winners:

  • Express – Non-stop company on the way to success: Bandwidth

The finalists:

Republic Wireless
BioResource International

  • Turnaround – A rebuilt company: Cree

The finalists:

WedPics from Deji Mi
Intuit Health (now Medfusion)

  • Golden Spike – A solid, grind-it-out day to day company: Red Hat

The finalists:

Red Hat
Castle Branch

  • Subway – A company emerging from stealth mode: Neuse River Networks

The finalists:

Organic Transit
Neuse River Networks
eSmart Meter
Advanced Animal Diagnostics

  • Riding Third Rail – A company achieving success on a deadly “third rail” where other companies have tried and failed: Republic Wireless

The finalists:

Organic Transit
Republic Wireless
Windsor Circle

Life-time service honorees:

  • Monica Doss, entrepreneurship
  • Bob Young, founder of Red Hat and Lulu
  • Dr. Dennis Gillings, founder and executive chairman, Quintiles


WRALTechWire also launched a new category of awards: The “I Think I Can.”

Recipients were:

  • Matthew Coppedge of Downtown Durham, Inc.; Adam Klein of The American Underground; and Casey Steinbacher of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce for Durham’s “Smoffice”
  • Bob Cotter, Organic Transit, for taking on the automobile industry
  • Joanne Rohde, Axial Exchange, for taking on the healthcare industry
  • Ginger Dosier, bioMASON, for helping build a new world
  • Steve Malik, Medfusion, for buying back the company he founded and later sold
  • Tom Pike, Quintiles, for taking his company public at nearly $1 billion
  • Jim Roberts, now at UNC Wilmington where he is spearheading entrepreneurial development. Roberts was a regular contributor to WRALTechWire as an “Insider” columnist before accepting the UNCW post. He also has long been active in venture capital, economic development and entrepreneurship across the state from Charlotte to Asheville to the Triangle – and now the coast.

(Personal note: In my haste to bring events portion to a close, I accidentally omitted Jim at the presentation. He did receive his “prize pack,” including an engineer’s cap, certificate and a train-related gift. My apologies, Jim.)

Last year’s winners are available online.