The Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards honored local Inland Empire entrepreneurs Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The event, now in its 17th year, was held at the Riverside Convention Center and presented by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at California State University, San Bernardino. More than 1,000 people showed up to the convention center to hear the stories of the 33 entrepreneurs selected as finalists.
Out of the finalists, 11 were selected to go home with awards:
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
A Lifetime Achievement Award presentation was also made to Garner Holt, founder of Garner Holt Productions in Redlands.
Holt started the company 42 years ago as a teenager in his parents’ garage and has grown the company to become the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of animatronic figures and ride show and theme park attractions. Holt is the first entrepreneur to win a Spirit award multiple times, having previously received the “Innovator Entrepreneur” award in 2006.
During the awards event, the Garner Holt Student Fast Pitch Competition – sponsored by Holt – was held for five would-be future entrepreneurs to deliver a 90-second pitch about their business idea to the audience. They were critiqued on their preparation, poise and professional presentation.
The top three pitches were recognized, and the top student received a $4,000 prize.
The three top students were:
Jonathan Stoneking – Halo Mouse
Victoria Zachary – Cloud 9
Alexander Watkins – Stoggo
Will Fritz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.