ASHEVILLE – This week, over 300 entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and other members of the Asheville startup community will gather as Venture Asheville presents a series of awards to the 15 fastest-growing local companies, along with the individuals who are leading the growth of the city’s startup ecosystem.

The Venture 15 and Venture Asheville Honors Awards ceremony will take place on December 12 at The Orange Peel in downtown Asheville.

The Venture 15 awards will be allocated to 15 startups, chosen based on their Compounded Annual Growth Rate. Annual revenues needed to reach $150,000 or more every year for the past two full fiscal years.

Venture Asheville Director of Entrepreneurship Jeff Kaplan says the winner of this year’s Venture 15 Awards are a mix of tech, apparel, healthcare, and food and beverage companies, which is “a solid representation of the Asheville ecosystem.”

This Venture 15 companies are also more diverse than previous award winners, across industry, type of business and founder. Ten out of the 15 companies are female-founded.

“I’m encouraged to see the high number of female-founded and co-founded startups in the Venture 15 this year,” Kaplan says. “Both are an increase from the previous year and add further validation to the ingredient of having a co-founder to make it as a startup in Asheville.”

Separate from the Venture 15 awards, the Venture Asheville Honors awards are granted to individuals and organizations in the Asheville region who have demonstrated their impact on the community. The categories include: Mentor of the Year, Investor of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Resource of the Year and the Shining Rock Award (which honors a “tenacious and resilient” entrepreneur in the community.”

Kaplan said the Venture Asheville Honors selection committee “represents the breadth of core startup organizations in the area that hold intimate knowledge of the individuals nominated for the awards to help offer a well-rounded view of each nominee.”

Winners were chosen through a ballot system. However, in one of the categories, a three-way tie emerged and the committee chose to award all three winners, which will be revealed Thursday.

Kaplan says he expects a turnout of over 300 attendees on Thursday evening. The program kicks off at 7 p.m. and concludes at 10 p.m.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite for $20. Registration includes dinner, drinks and live music from local rock/funk band The Northside Gentlemen.