Riverside, Calif. – Recognizing that “Innovation is Not Enough,” and that creating a successful business enterprise includes equal measures of passion, drive, commitment, determination, and risk taking, the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards celebrated and honored the Inland Empire region’s best entrepreneurs on Wednesday evening. The 17th annual gala event, presented by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at Cal State San Bernardino, drew more than 1,000 attendees to the Riverside Convention Center to hear the inspiring stories of the 33 entrepreneurs selected as finalists.
This year’s award recipients recognized at the black-tie gala, chosen from the 33 finalists, include:
- Vikita Poindexter, Poindexter Consulting Group – Murrieta – CONSULTING ENTREPRENEUR
- Bob Marcynyszyn, Avalon Shutters Inc. – Perris – CONSUMER PRODUCTS MANUFACTURING ENTREPRENEUR and BEST OF THE BEST AWARD
- Dane Stevenson, QC Manufacturing – Temecula – FAMILY BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR
- Rod Vandenbos, buzzbox beverages inc. – Indio – FOOD & BEVERAGE ENTREPRENEUR
- Jonathan Mitchell, Sunergy Construction, Inc. – Corona – GENERAL ENTREPRENEUR
- Dr. Kelly Hong, Kelly Smile Dentistry – Victorville – HEALTH CARE ENTREPRENEUR
- Jon Armstrong, Do It American Manufacturing Company, LLC – Corona – INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING ENTREPRENEUR
- Karen Mason, United Transmission Exchange – San Bernardino – INSPIRATIONAL ENTREPRENEUR
- Mickey McGuire Jr., Acorn Technology Services, Inc. – Riverside – SERVICE-BASED ENTREPRENEUR
- Ryan Rainbolt, Education Through Imagination – Redlands – SMALL/EMERGING ENTERPRISE
- Carrie Ridgway, Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center – Riverside – SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
In addition, a special surprise Lifetime Achievement Award presentation was made to Garner Holt, founder of Garner Holt Productions or Redlands. Holt, who founded the company 42 years ago as a teenager in his parents’ garage, has grown the company to become the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of animatronic figures and ride show and theme park attractions. Holt became the first entrepreneur to win a Spirit Award multiple times, having been recognized as “Innovator Entrepreneur” in 2006.
FAST PITCH COMPETITION
As part of the event festivities, the Garner Holt Student Fast Pitch Competition was held for five future entrepreneurs to deliver a 90-second pitch about their up-and-coming venture idea to the audience and were critiqued on their overall preparation, poise and professional presentation. The top three pitches were recognized and the top student walked away with a $4,000 prize. The fast pitch, which involves students from Cal State San Bernardino, is sponsored by local entrepreneur Garner Holt of San Bernardino. The top 3 finishers were:
- Jonathan Stoneking – Halo Mouse
- Victoria Zachary – Cloud 9
- Alexander Watkins – Stoggo
Proceeds from the Spirit of the Entrepreneur event benefit the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Scholarship established by Dr. Mike Stull, Director of Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at California State University, San Bernardino which supports local college students that are seeking to further their education through entrepreneurship and business management.
The Spirit of the Entrepreneur event is presented by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) and the Jack H. Brown College of Business & Public Administration at California State University San Bernardino and sponsored by a wide range of local organizations including:
PLATINUM SPONSORS – Best Best & Krieger LLP, Fifth Third Bank, Southern California News Group, Bank of America, Inland Empire Magazine, and the Inland Empire Business Journal.
GOLD SPONSORS – San Bernardino County EDA, City of Riverside, US Bank, Wilson Ivanova CPAs, Wells Fargo, Altek Media Group, JP Morgan Chase, Riverside County EDA
SILVER SPONSORS – Varner & Brandt LLP, CDC Small Business Finance, The Community Foundation, SmartSyt, Pacific Premier Bank, Tangram Interiors, City of Ontario, and ROARK Accounting.
JUDGING RECEPTION SPONSOR – Roorda, Piquet & Bessee, Inc.
VIP RECEPTION SPONSOR – City National Bank
AFTER PARTY SPONSOR – Leadership Dimensions, Inc.
About the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE)
Established in 1999, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) supports and celebrate Entrepreneurship & Small Business through innovative programs and educational resources. IECE coordinates academic programs that lead to business degrees in Entrepreneurship for undergraduate and graduate students as well as delivering experiential learning and student support programs such as the Fast Pitch Competition. In the local community, IECE offers existing and aspiring entrepreneurs a wide array of business advisory and mentoring services and entrepreneurial training programs that help them achieve greater levels of success in their business ventures.