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Photo of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awardThis sponsored post is part of a series of profiles on Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalists.

VentureBeat recently teamed up with Ernst & Young to profile a number of promising entrepreneurs.

These innovators, all from northern California, were finalists for prestigious E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is now in its 25th year.

The finalists are in company with the likes of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as Oracle founder Larry Ellison. (Page and Brin won the award in 2003.)

The prestige may be more than enough.

“Our independent panel of judges consists of past award recipients, business and community leaders, and educators. These are people who have a stake in the Bay Area,” says Ernst & Young partner and Program Director Ernie Cortes. “The judges choose finalists and winners based on their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, so it really is an award from the community.”

33 entrepreneurs representing 30 different companies were chosen as finalists, out of 167 nominations this year. To reach this level the entrepreneurs have to pass through a stringent judging process. The judges meet with each entrepreneur, evaluate their written nominations (which include financials and other information), and consider impartial executive summaries provided by Ernst & Young. Judging is based on six criteria:

  • spirit of entrepreneurship
  • innovation
  • strategy
  • financials
  • community & global impact
  • influence & integrity

The judging process culminates with an intensive four-hour meeting among all the judges, where they discuss the nominees and make their final decisions.

They’ll now go on to compete with 250 other regional finalists in the national Entrepreneur of the Year competition. From that group, just 10 national winners will be chosen, and one of those will go on to compete in the World Entrepreneur of the Year competition in Monte Carlo.

Here’s a quick look at the entrepreneurs we featured in our series. Click through for a short video interview with each one.

Zohar Levkovitz, CEO of Amobee“Kids and companies are going to ruin your life, but they’re going to ruin them in amazing ways.” That’s what I was told by Amobee’s founder and CEO, Zohar Levkovitz, who compared being an entrepreneur to being a father. Continue reading…

Eileen Gittins, CEO and founder of BlurbWhen asked what advice she gives aspiring entrepreneurs, Eileen Gittins quickly responds with a common theme: “Never give up.” Gittins is the founder and CEO of the do-it-yourself online book publisher, Blurb. Continue reading…

Vlad Shmunis, founder and CEO of RingCentralWhen young entrepreneurs ask Vlad Shmunis, founder and CEO of RingCentral, for advice, he starts with what his mother told him: “Believe in yourself. And never shy away from a fight.” Continue reading…

Jim Marggraff, chairman, CEO and founder of LivescribeJim Marggraff is chairman, CEO and founder of Livescribe. As soon as you close your first round, “you put the money in the bank, you look how long it’s going to carry you, and you start planning your next round of financing,” Marggraf says. “It’s always a matter of cash.” Continue reading…

Tasso Roumeliotis, founder and CEO of Location LabsTasso Roumeliotis is founder and CEO of Location Labs. According to Roumeliotis, “Get ready to put ten years of your life into it, because that’s what it’s going to take to build a great company.” Continue reading…

Want to be the next Ernst & Young Northern California Entrepreneur Of The Year? Provide your contact information and we’ll let you know when the nomination period opens in January 2012. Fill out the form here!


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