Winners of Our 2016 Small Business Awards
Rising Entrepreneur Award: Dominiq Dudley, Co-Owner of READY Magazine
Because of barriers like student debt and inability to access capital, too few Millennials are able to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship and create small businesses for the next generation. But for young people who are able to overcome these barriers, entrepreneurship can be a pathway to success, particularly for Americans who have struggled to regain their footing following the Great Recession.
Dominiq Dudley, the 21-year old co-owner of READY Magazine, is an impressive example of entrepreneurial success among today’s young people. Having just graduated from Howard University within a week of the Leadership Summit, it’s clear Dominiq has the drive and vision to succeed as a small business owner.
Only six issues into the publication of READY Magazine, Dominiq has already guided the team to generating a profit and secured a competitive placement on Amazon Kindle. Plus, she’s spearheaded efforts to promote the publication digitally to reach a broad range of Millennials. With her leadership, Dominiq is sure to continue the magazine’s success as a diverse platform for women on issues ranging from breast cancer treatment centers to human trafficking.
Technological Innovation Award: Praveen Madan, Co-Owner of Kepler’s Books
Small businesses are tremendous innovators. Their size allows them to be nimble and pioneer new technologies, and our economy depends on their creativity. Of course, some industries are more known for innovation than others – and few people associate technology advancements with bookstores.
But Praveen Madan of Kepler’s Books is changing that reputation with a new invention that has made a huge splash in the book world. Praveen launched Giftlit (giftlit.com), a unique subscription gift service that allows customers to send a book every month to friends and family for 3, 6 or 12 months. While there are pre-selected collections that customers can select, the truly innovative aspect of Giftlit is that it allows the giver or receiver to customize the books.
This successful invention has been included in Buzzfeed’s “Gifts They’ll Love All Year” two years in a row. Giftlit has seen exponential double-digit growth since its launch, and it has allowed Kepler’s to raise wages for frontline hourly workers. Giftlit is a clear example of how small businesses are paving the way for new technologies.
Community Development Award: Courtney McKee, Owner of Headframe Spirits
Small businesses aren’t just the driving force behind our economy; they’re also the backbones of our communities. Whether that means brightening up Main Street or giving back to local causes, small businesses contribute to vitality in towns across the country. Headframe Spirits, a producer of spirits in Butte, Mont., is a company that has done both.
Headframe Spirits is committed to growth that encompasses and benefits the community of Butte. For instance, the company is in the process of redeveloping a former mine site into the largest distillery West of the Mississippi. This effort will transform an unused piece of land into an economically productive distillery while promoting the area’s history and culture. Additionally, the company has produced spirits that honor Butte’s local culture, like the Orphan Girl, a bourbon cream liqueur named after a former mine.
Overall, Headframe Spirits has donated nearly $150,000 to the community and generated more than $7 million in economic impact since 2012. It’s no surprise the company has previously received awards including the 2016 Small Business Champions of the Year from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 2015 Tourism Ambassadors of the Year from Governor Steve Bullock and the 2014 Entrepreneurs of the Year from Governor Bullock.