Awards / Business / Leadership / Startups

DC, meet your nominees for the 2020 Awards

For each of our six categories — Invention, Impact Leader, Technical Leader, Culture Builder, Startup and Growth Company of the Year — tell us who is making the biggest impact in your local tech and entrepreneurship community. Voting is open through Oct. 26.

The Awards. (Photo by Sam Markowitz)
Update: The name of Sorcero's product has been corrected. (10/21/20, 6:12 p.m.)
Even through this rough and unusual year, local companies and leaders are still making the best of 2020.

We started the new decade as usual here by highlighting the DC RealLIST Startups, which always makes me — Market Editor Michelai Graham — optimistic for the year and ecstatic about the opportunity to cover all of the meaningful work #dctech companies and entrepreneurs are doing. By March, life as we knew it changed as we all started to think about how to work through the global health crisis, and by June, the civil unrest made our plates a little fuller.

We still have a little over two months, and one incredibly consequential presidential election, to go in this year. With all of the pivots, new tools and initiatives, it’s important that we celebrate the wins in our communities.

The Awards return this fall with a more intentional aim of reflecting this moment: More than celebrating success for success’ sake, we want to honor challenges overcome, as well as ongoing work to make local tech and entrepreneurship communities places that also challenge racism, the pandemic and the unjust status quo.

The 2020 Awards winners for D.C. will be announced next Friday, Oct. 30; details to be announced very soon. But first, you need to pick those winners.

We solicited nominations from members of the community earlier this fall and curated these final nominees based on our own reporting. Now, it’s time for your vote on who deserves to be celebrated this year: Voting is open through Monday, Oct. 26. Read more about each nominee below (and refresh yourself on 2019’s nominees and winners).

Vote in the 2020 Awards

Invention of the Year

What product, project or release this year is positioned to ease the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism or the recession?

Vote in the 2020 Awards

Impact Leader of the Year

Who has most made this community better through impact work, leadership, policymaking or other pathways?

Vote in the 2020 Awards

Technical Leader of the Year

Who is incorporating community-minded action into their technical leadership?

  • Yuan Chen, Aperiomics CTO and cofounder — Chen designed and developed the biotech startup’s flagship platform, Xplore-PATHO, which the company says can accurately identify nearly 40,000 microorganisms, including over 12,000 clinically relevant pathogens.
  • Gale Smith, Novavax VP of discovery and preclinical research and chief scientist — As head of vaccine technology at the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based, clinical-stage biotech company that develops vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases, Smith was the one to sign the public statement for collaboration on COVID-19 vaccine development back in April.
  • Caitlin Henry, Aquicore technical lead — Henry made a return to the growing proptech company — which raised $14 million this summer — in December 2019 after previously serving as a software engineer from 2016 to 2018 and working elsewhere for a year. She has also held top technical leadership roles at Optoro and Deloitte.
  • Shavini Fernando, OxiWear founder — Fernando is a video game, virtual reality and web designer and developer who is working on bringing her startup’s flagship product, a wearable vital monitoring and emergency alert device, to market.
  • Christian Vogler, Gallaudet University’s Technology Access Program director — Vogler is a professor in the Communication Studies program at Gallaudet and has also led partnerships between the university and tech companies such as AppTek and Apple.
Vote in the 2020 Awards

Startup of the Year

What promising young company is inspiring a brighter collective future?

  • Sorcero — The Adams Morgan-based startup built its Language Intelligence Platform to make it easier for a company’s team members to find answers to questions within internal documents. The two-year-old startup closed a $3.5 million bridge to a Series A in June.
  • Poppy — The Ivy City-based, tech-enabled flower company is on a mission to make picking event flowers a fun and easy process. After offering at-home floral arranging kits earlier this year, the startup was selected to participate in the Techstars Atlanta 13-week accelerator program.
  • Goodfynd — This Black-owned biz aims to make locally made food more accessible by connecting users to food trucks in their area via an app, while enabling small and growing food businesses to better connect with their communities. The company hit the $100,000 revenue mark back in June.
  • Socially Determined — The Wharf-based healthcare analytics company offers a platform focused on the science and measurement of the social determinants of health. The three-year startup closed a $11.1 million Series A in January.
  • CultivatePeople — The three-year-old compensation consulting and software company provides HR services to help companies retain their employees. CultivatePeople launched an equity-minded, machine learning-based compensation product a few months ago and its founder and CEO, Lola Han, is a part of the inaugural cohort for the Google for Startups Accelerator program.
Vote in the 2020 Awards

Growth Company of the Year

What growing company is using its success to support its larger community?

Vote in the 2020 Awards

Culture Builder of the Year

What empathetic leader or organizer is making their workplace or professional group more inclusive and resilient? (“Leader” doesn’t need to mean they hold a leadership title.)

Vote in the 2020 Awards
Companies: Morning Consult / Axios / Sorcero / HUNGRY / Pie Insurance / Gallaudet University / Byte Back / Quorum Analytics / Aquicore / Halcyon / Revolution /
Series: Awards
People: Aaron Saunders / Shanaz Chowdhery / Nasir Qadree
Projects: DC Startup Week / The Vinetta Project / Rise of the Rest / Tech, Rebalanced

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