Last week, I took some time away from the grind to attend the WRAL TechWire Full Steam Ahead Awards, ironically hosted at the FullSteam Brewery in downtown Durham. It was one of the handful of events I’ve been able to make over the last few months.

I was also one of the folks TechWire asked to nominate for the awards.

I wasn’t nominated this year, which means I didn’t nominate myself, which shows I have at least have a shred of integrity left. I also wasn’t in any way responsible for selecting any of the winners.

Thus, I have absolutely no qualms about telling you who I thought should have won.

Wait, one small qualm. I don’t mean to take anything away from the winners, who I am sure were all deserving. If they could have given away multiple awards to multiple people, then these are the other people I think they should have given awards to.

I’m also not going to list everyone I nominated. If I know you, and you were nominated, just go with the fact that I nominated you. If I know you, and you weren’t nominated, they didn’t take everyone I nominated, and take heart in the fact that no one nominated me either. If I don’t know you, I didn’t nominate you. Buy me a beer sometime.

Lastly, I didn’t nominate in about half the categories, I just stuck to what I knew. Like, I don’t know what makes one CFO better than another. I imagine they’re all like Cyril Figgis from Archer.

Mogul – Top Investor/Owner: Chris Heivly and David Neal, The Startup Factory

Jason Caplain and David Jones, Bull City Partners
Dave Rizzo and Lister Delgado, IDEA Fund Partners
Christy Shaffer, Hatteras Ventures
Karen LeVert, Southeast TechInventures

Excellent choice by the way, and you’ll get to see six of the companies that Chris and Dave (and their investors) have invested in at the Startup Factory Fall Showcase on November 12th.

I also would have gone with Dave Rizzo and Lister Delgado from IDEA Fund Partners, especially when you consider NC IDEA, the sister grant program that gives (not invests, gives) 10 -12 deserving NC startups up to $50K each year.

IDEA Fund also has money in a lot of startups outside of the NC IDEA program. They’re everywhere, especially here, and here is an important consideration when you’re talking about who North Carolina investors are invested in.

Engineer – Top CEO: David Morken, Bandwidth

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

Bandwidth won a bunch of the awards, and that’s great. It was also great to see the likes of Bandwidth, ChannelAdvisor, Quintiles, and SciQuest up against Automated Insights (homer!), Brooks Bell, Appia, BoostSuite, and WedPics. Someday, a startup is going to win this one, and AI, BoostSuite, and WedPics in particular have had remarkably exciting years.

I also think, probably against conventional wisdom, that the startups and the larger companies should NOT be separated in this or any of the other categories. If the Triangle is to be a startup hub, its startups need to be able to go head-to-head with the established players.

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

Nate Talbott, Spreedly
Robert Simora, Railinc.
Jay Strum, G1 Therapeutics
Ben Yerxa, Liquidia Technologies

Again, no problem with this choice, but why aren’t there more well-known CTOs in the Triangle?

I’m starting to think this may be an issue.

We have kegs of CEOs walking around our startup ecosystem, and it’s pretty common knowledge that only a handful of them are true-to-life CEOs. That’s one of the reasons I very rarely refer to myself as the CEO of the companies I start — because I’m not. I’m the founder, and while CEO duties are a part of my job, I’m not spending the vast majority of my time CEOing. I’m making and selling shit.

Where are our rock star CTOs? Where are the brilliant engineers and ground-breaking technicians? Where are the ones who are innovating instead of coding, and why isn’t that CEO-to-CTO ratio more like 3 to 1 instead of 100 to 1?

That list of nominees should have been 20 names long. Instead it was five, and I knew one, the one I submitted.

Rookie – Top Entrepreneur: Coleman Greene, Sqord

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

Literally, could have been any of them and I nominated almost all of them. A couple more didn’t make the cut. Archive Social is having a solid year, and Validic and NeuroSpire are names you should know. And you will.

For the record – I know this is a tech thing, but Mystery Brewing’s Erik Myers is quietly entrepreneuring a very successful thing down in Hillsborough. If you missed the opening of the Public House or the CNBC win or the announcement he’s bottling then you should be paying more attention to our thriving local brewing industry.

The award ceremony itself was excellent, with very little pomp and circumstance, a lot of recognition, and no phony pretentiousness. I’ll very much be looking to next year’s awards.

Especially if I’m nominated.

That’s a hint.