We couldn’t be more excited to announce that Tyrone Poole, CEO and Founder of NoAppFee.com will receive the 2016 Wyatt Starnes Memorial Award. Honoring our region’s most promising early-stage tech entrepreneur, the award will be presented on October 26, 2016 at OEN’s 2016 Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards in Portland, Oregon.
The Wyatt Starnes Memorial Award is presented annually in honor of William Wyatt Starnes, founder and CEO of SignaCert and co-founder of Tripwire Inc. The Wyatt Starnes Memorial Fund was established by OEN in 2014 at the request of Wyatt’s family.
Tyrone will receive a one-year scholarship to OEN’s educational workshops, programs, and events, as well as a $3,000 cash award. The Starnes family chose Poole because they were impressed with his passion for his work and his tenacity when it comes to overcoming obstacles.
Here, Tyrone tells his story:
“Nine years ago I was going to be a fireman. There was no doubt in my mind. Zero. I got a degree in fire sciences, did intense physical training, and eventually enrolled in the fire academy. Everything was going according to plan until one day there was an accident during training. As it turns out, tearing all the tendons and lymph nodes from your thigh is painful in several ways.
My injury left me in the hospital for nine months. While recovering I was evicted from my apartment, my car was repossessed, and I incurred over $20,000 in medical debt. I couch-surfed for as long as I could, but one’s welcome only lasts so long. A few short months after being released from the hospital, I found myself in the YWCA homeless shelter. This is where I became an entrepreneur.
I was convinced that I didn’t belong there. I wasn’t one of ‘them.’ However, while living there I began to hear stories that sounded eerily similar. I soon found out that homelessness can strike at anytime, with anyone. Entire families were living in shelters, cars, or on the streets. Not because they were lazy or incompetent, but because life simply happened. From that point forward, I knew what I was going to do. My goal was, and still is, to house every single one of those families.
I began work as a housing advocate, helping families with seemingly insurmountable rental barriers find apartments that would accept them. This proved to be painstakingly difficult given our limited resources. I devised a plan for a tech solution to address these exact issues, and NoAppFee.com was born.
Nine years ago, an accident changed my life. I am now the CEO and Founder of NoAppFee.com, a housing website that aims to prevent homelessness in America. It seems at almost every turn there has been someone or something telling me to stop, to give up. We’ve been told that working with the government is too hard, that investing in us is too early, that the problem we aim to solve is too complex. But I will not give up. And I don’t think William Wyatt Starnes would have given up either. The stakes are too high. I am honored to carry on the Wyatt Starnes legacy while I fight to help our community’s most vulnerable families.”
Tyrone was selected from a total of 20 applicants and four finalists. The other finalists included Dylan Vance of Jupiter Devices, Brian Martin of Recentia Health Corporation, and David Schaefer of eWind Solutions.