Awards / DC Startup Week / Awards

Here are your winners from the 2020 Awards in DC

During a live Twitter announcement, we celebrated these six innovators and companies who have all managed to make the best of this year by continuing to do important work.

HUNGRY's growing team. as of April 2019. (Courtesy photo)
Everyone in the community should take some time to stop, breathe, and celebrate the wins, big or small.

That was our thought process here when we were thinking about how to carry out our annual awards in the best way possible. We decided to bring the Awards back 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.

After soliciting nominations from members of the community and curating final nominees based on our own reporting, we held a public vote for a week to determine the winners. (Here’s a list of all the nominees across the six categories.) We announced the honorees live on Twitter earlier today — check out our feed to see all the amazing appreciation shared.

Without further ado, here are the winners determined by you for the Awards in D.C.:

Invention of the Year — LoveCast

At the end of March, D.C.-based startups CarpeDM and District IRL teamed up to launch a virtual dating experience called LoveCast. The unorthodox dating show featured an interactive experience allowing the audience to vote to match up participating singles. The teams behind the virtual event met during DC Startup Week last year.

Launched in 2018, CarpeDM is the developer of a dating app that requires people who match to indulge in a five- to 10-minute video chat before continuing their relationship via text. Newly launched District IRL is a digital media and marketing company connecting people through in-person and virtual experiences.


Impact Leader of the Year — Rachel Koretsky

Rachel Koretsky, DC Startup Week organizer. (Photo via Linkedin)

Koretsky is the lead organizer behind DC Startup Week, as well as the founder of six-year-old Upace, app curator for the fitness community. Koretsky first came up with the idea for Upace during her time studying at American University, when she noticed a disconnect between students and fitness centers on campus.

“Massive congratulations to @KoretskyRachel for being named the @TechnicallyDC Impact Leader of the Year! The work you do helps create a vibrant DC and we were honored to be nominated alongside of you. Cheers!” Halcyon tweeted during the live Twitter event.

Technical Leader of the Year — Shavini Fernando

Shavini Fernando pitching OxiWear at the second annual Georgetown “Bark Bank” pitch competition. (Courtesy photo)

Fernando is a video game, virtual reality and web designer and developer who graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in communication, culture and technology. She first got on our radar when she won big bucks at Georgetown’s Bark Tank pitch competition on back in November 2018.

Fernando has a powerful story behind the creation of her startup OxiWear, which she began developing a few years ago when she decided to take control of her own health conditions. Fernando suffers from a heart condition called Eisenmenger’s Syndrome so she created OxiWear, a wearable vital monitoring and emergency alert device, to look after her vitals. Fernando is working on bringing her startup’s flagship product to market. OxiWear is an honoree on our 2020 RealLIST Startups; check out this story to see how the company has been doing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Startup of the Year — Goodfynd

The Goodfynd team. (Courtesy photo)

Cofounded by Kyle Miller and Lemaire Stewart two years ago, 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.

In Goodfynd’s app and on its website, users can find food trucks near you as well as see which ones are accepting preorders. Food truck owners using the platform can set schedules, manage menus and accept preorders. Miller and Stewart began their business relationship during their time studying at Virginia Tech. The pair have since been running Goodfynd alongside COO Sofie Abdul and Patrick Powell, the company’s head of outreach.

Growth Company of the Year — HUNGRY

How awesome is this? The Startup of the Year winner from last year’s awards has also won the honor of Growth Company of the Year now. Rosslyn, Virginia-based HUNGRY has graduated to growth stage with a celebrity-driven $20 million Series B earlier this year. The four-year-old company had 80 full-timers as of April, when it pivoted to shipping food straight to consumers at home due to the pandemic.

To help baseball fans engulfs themselves in a ballpark atmosphere from home, HUNGRY teamed up with the Washington Nationals and Levy to deliver classic game day food to customers during the season this year in D.C.

Culture Builder of the Year — Diego Mariscal

Diego Mariscal, 2Gether-International founder and CEO. (Photo via Twitter)

Mariscal is hard at work to strengthen the community of entrepreneurs with disabilities through his organization, 2Gether-International. He launched the nonprofit eight years ago to help D.C.’s disabled population create and execute business ideas by holding peer-to-peer support groups, workshops, career coaching and referral services. 2Gether-International also runs a three-month accelerator program supported by a grant from the D.C. Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development. The program has gone virtual since the pandemic hit.

Mariscal is working on acquiring his bachelors of business administration with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship from George Washington University.

Companies: CarpeDM / 2Gether-International / HUNGRY
Series: Awards

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