Third Annual StartCharlotte LIVE! honors startup community’s best of 2018

Beer and business came together Jan. 22 at Heist Brewery in NoDa to celebrate the local startup community. StartCharlotte hosted their third annual StartCharlotte LIVE! awards ceremony to recognize achievement and success within the Charlotte area.

Award nominees were in the four following categories: Startup of the Year, Investor of the Year, Entrepreneurship Innovation and Servant Leader.







Startup of the Year, presented by last year’s winner Meggie Williams of Skipper, went to rental-property management company Rabbu, founded by Emir Dukic.

“It’s awesome to be recognized for what we’re doing, but, you know, a lot more work ahead of us, so it’s only one checkbox,” said Dukic. “It’s a great ecosystem, we’re happy to be here and be part of it. We’re excited.”

RELATED: Rabbu Raises $1.5 Million for Further Expansion in 2019

This year’s Investor of the Year was Greg Brown, the Administrator of Charlotte Angel Fund.

Brown said he’s honored the founders of Charlotte have let him be a part of their community, and the community ecosystem in the area is befitting of the culture in Charlotte.

“I think the ecosystem here is very welcoming,” he said. “That’s a little bit a reflection of Charlotte in general, Charlotte is kind of an easy place to come in to, socially, economically, etcetera. People are welcoming, people want you to succeed.”

The Entrepreneurship Innovation award is given to a company with over 10 employees and that’s raised over $1 million in annual revenue, or that’s driving innovation in their industry. This year, brewery business management software company Ekos received the honor.

Co-founder Josh McKinney said it’s been a crazy year for his company.

“The last year we’ve run a line, expanded into new markets, and are preparing for even more markets, and in addition to getting more involved in the Charlotte community,” he said. “So the last couple years it’s been really good as far as people reaching out and getting feedback.”

And finally, the Servant Leader award – given to an individual who created an impact in the Charlotte startup ecosystem over the past year – went to William Bissett. Bissett hosts the Charlotte Angel Connection podcast series linking entrepreneurs, investors and the wider Charlotte community.

“To watch this community grow up and be part of it and interview a lot of these people, the podcast, and kind of come here, it’s kind of like your home,” he said of the experience, likening it to raising a child. And to win an award in front of your family, from that perspective, it’s kind of cool. It’s a very very neat honor.”

The winners were all sent home with an engraved beer mug and big smiles. After the award ceremony, everyone continued to chat and connect over drinks, and began to prepare for another year in the Charlotte startup community.

The evening was sponsored by NC Idea, Dualboot Partners, Innovate Charlotte and Packard Place.

RELATED: Recap of StartCharlotte LIVE! 2016

RELATED: What you missed at StartCharlotte LIVE! 2017