Every business venture starts with a vision. But it takes the right plan and momentum for one to cultivate that vision and eventually grow small enterprises into sizeable entities. Here are the finalists of our annual Small Business Awards. Now in its 18th year, the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards highlight entrepreneurs that demonstrate the tenacity and strategic thinking needed to thrive in the midst of entrepreneurial adversity. This year a new category has been added to the mix: Franchise Owner of the Year. This addition reflects the growing opportunities for minorities in franchising, especially for professionals choosing second careers. The winners of the Small Business Awards will be announced at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo, hosted by Nationwide, on May 15—18 in Columbus, Ohio.
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
This award is given to a business that is flourishing in an innovative industry or approaching entrepreneurship in a groundbreaking manner via their products or services.
Jonathan Gosier, Co-Founder, CEO & Product Director; Matthew Griffiths, Co-Founder, Director of Platform
Type of Business: Cloud-based Data Visualization Software Developer
In a world increasingly reliant on data analytics, MetaLayer’s applications make information easier to understand, visualize, and share. Jonathan D. Gosier, 31, and his business partner Matthew Griffiths, founded the company in 2011 with the goal of helping non-technical users. MetaLayer takes complex data analysis that is traditionally performed by data scientists and reduces it to a couple of drag-and-drop mouse clicks on a screen. The company offers big data solutions to government and enterpriseÂ customers in areas of public safety, intelligence, disaster response, and law enforcement. Gosier projects revenues of $500,000 for 2013. MetaLayer generated a little less than $250,000 in 2012.
Heather Hiles, CEO & Founder
Type of Business: Online Portfolio Platform Developer
Hiles founded Pathbrite in 2012 and is the developer of its e-portfolio platform, which helps students collect, track, and showcase their achievements. Each account is private; students can own and include in their portfolios what are known as digital artifacts: test scores, transcripts, examples of schoolwork. Stored in the cloud, the online portfolios can follow students from elementary school to high school to college and throughout their careers. E-portfolios can be shown to school admissions officers and prospective employers. Pathbrite is the only e-portfolio platform in the market providing electronic copies of students’ ACT test scores. Â 5 colleges and universities are currently using Pathbrite.
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