Meet the Crunchies finalists vying for Founder of the Year

The 10th Annual Crunchies Awards Show is but a few short weeks away, and we’ve yet to specifically introduce you to the nominees of a very important category: Founder of the Year.

Given the landscape of current affairs — let’s face it, 2016 was a wash at best — the role of the founder becomes increasingly critical. It’s not enough to make great hires, execute on a vision, and lead your company to financial success. Today’s founders must also think about the greater role their product and business play in the lives of their users and society as a whole.

With that said, it’s my pleasure to introduce the Crunchies nominees for Founder of the Year:

Jeff Lawson, Twilio

Twilio’s CEO and founder Jeff Lawson has not only grown Twilio to a market cap of $2.5+ billion, but he publicly launched the company at a time when tech companies were hesitant to IPO in the midst of a semi-turbulent market. In fact, he did it the day before the Brexit vote. Bold move, Lawson.


Jessica O. Matthews

Jessica O. Matthews, the Harvard graduate behind Uncharted Play, is the antithesis of your average SV tech bro. A dual citizen both in the U.S. and Nigeria, she’s dedicated her life and her company to advances in renewable energy. Since launching a rocky Kickstarter around the Socket, an energy-generating soccer ball, the company has pivoted to selling their motion-based, off-grid renewable energy to OEMs.

jessica-matthews uncharted play

Morgan DeBaun, Blavity

Blavity CEO and cofounder Morgan DeBaun has found a way to bridge the gap between a new generation of mobile-first, content-hungry African American millennials and content that serves the nuanced and diverse demographic. She’s helped grow Blavity to over 120,000 followers across social media while hitting 700,000 monthly uniques.

Morgan DeBaun of Blavity

Ryan Petersen, Flexport

The world of one-day shipping and Amazon and FedEx tracking is a far cry from the way that global freight shipping operates. The ancient industry has been left in the dust in a time of automation, save for Ryan Petersen’s Flexport. The company has raised almost $100 million and is poised to take a much bigger slice of the $9 trillion freight logistics industry.


Tristan Walker, Walker & Company

Tristan Walker has taken a wealth of experience in knowledge and focused that energy into Walker & Company Brands. Walker has managed to get both the Bevel shave system and the electric Bevel Trimmer into Target for distribution. Plus, the Bevel Trimmer is also a nominee at this year’s Crunchies vying for Best Hardware.


This is but one category in the Crunchies Awards Show, and our pool of finalists is more impressive than ever. Plus, comedian Chelsea Peretti is returning to the War Memorial Opera House to host the show and roast SV once again. It’s most certainly a night you don’t want to miss.

Buy tickets here! (And note: prices on tickets will go up 10 percent starting next week, so don’t wait around.)

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