OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards

Celebrating Oregon’s brightest and best entrepreneurs.

It’s like the Oscars, but with less glam and more grit. Each fall, over 600 local business leaders converge at the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards to honor Oregon’s brightest, boldest, and best entrepreneurs.

Now in its 26th year, the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner is Oregon’s largest and most prestigious business networking event. It not only celebrates the skill and courage that it takes for entrepreneurs to create a business out of an idea but also highlights the importance of entrepreneurs to the region’s economy.

2018 Awards Recap

Drunk History with OEN Awards 2018 MC and Owner of BurnCycle, Jessi Duley

Featuring: Janelle Isaacson, Sadie Lincoln, Emma Mcilroy, and Jessi Duley.

Jessi and her friends recount the stories of three famous OEN Award recipients of the past: Phil Knight (NIKE), Gert Boyle (Columbia Sportswear), and Jim Kelly (Rejuvenation Inc.). Produced by Cameron Behbahany, this short film opened the program and introduced Jessi to the audience at the 2018 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards.

OEN Awards 2018 – Jessi Duley’s Opening Monologue

Theme: Diversity is good for business.

2018 Award Winners

Meet all past winners & finalists here.

2018 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award

WINNER: Emma Mcilroy—Co-founder & CEO, Wildfang.

Seeking to create a home for badass women like herself, Emma co-founded clothing retailer Wildfang in 2012. Wildfang recently opened its third and fourth brick and mortar stores in New York and Los Angeles. Emma was featured in the Portland Business Journal’s 2018 Women of Influence and in Inc. Magazine’s 100 Female Founders to Watch. She is well known for her community activism, frequently speaking out about and spearheading initiatives on issues of women’s right and social justice. Prior to Wildfang, she managed branding efforts at NIKE in two of their most brand-defining categories: Running and Football.

Other finalists in this category were:

2018 Game Changer Award

WINNER: Streem—Ryan Fink and Sean Adkinson, Co-founders

Streem is a technology company with mobile apps for iOS and Android that connect home service professionals to their customers through on-demand intelligent video streaming. Streem’s award-winning software allows service professionals to guide customers with Augmented Reality (arrows, annotations, etc.). Through Streem’s advanced computer vision and machine learning technology, service professionals take measurements and collect data (serial numbers, barcode data) more quickly and efficiently than if they were on-site. Streem is building innovative technology in a home services space that is ripe for disruption.

Other finalists in this category were:

2018 Bootstrap Stage Company Award

WINNER: Uform—Cherie Stamm, Founder & CEO, Turlif Vilbrandt Founder & CTO

Uform offers an easy to use 3D development, design, and distribution ecosystem for industrial uses. Uform’s pioneering technology breaks through the limitations placed on design and production by existing engines. Uform was chosen because the founder and team are deeply committed to their vision, its approach is innovative, and its technology could disrupt the industry. In addition, Uform has an excellent leadership team with a deep understanding of their space. With over 20 years of research, Uform’s small but dedicated team created something only very few large companies have done in the past: a geometric engine to drive 3D applications.

Other finalists in this category were:

2018 Early Stage Company Award

WINNER: Riff Cold Brewed Coffee—Nate Armbrust, Steve Barham, Paul Evers, Bobby Evers, Kevin Smyth, Co-founders

Riff produces delicious cold-brewed coffee with two simple ingredients; sustainably sourced, artisanal coffee, and pure Cascade mountain water. It’s available in ready-to-drink bottles, an innovative 3-liter Bag-in-Box, and on draft at bars, restaurants, and businesses. Riff Cold Brewed Coffee was selected because the judges believe that the company is led by a world-class team of entrepreneurs with deep expertise in product development that is creating a genuinely unique customer experience. The judges believe Riff Cold Brewed Coffee is reinventing a mature market and has the potential to be one of the biggest brands to come out of Oregon.

Other finalists in this category were:

2018 Development Stage Company Award

WINNER: Sseko Designs—Liz and Ben Bohannon, Co-founders

Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals. This enables them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. By creating an environment of dignity, honor, and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for women in East Africa to end the cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society. Sseko Designs was selected because the judges believe the company has an excellent leadership team with complementary strengths, has a pervasive and authentic mission and passion, is positively impacting people locally and internationally and has significant growth potential with likely exit opportunities.

Other finalists in this category were:

2018 Growth Stage Company Award

WINNERS: Vacasa and DWFritz Automation—Eric Breon, Co-founder & CEO, Vacasa, and Dennis Fritz, Founder, DWFritz and Mike Fritz, CEO, DWFritz.

This year, Vacasa rose to the No. 1 position as the largest vacation rental property management company in the U.S. Unlike a listing site, Vacasa handles everything for the homeowner from marketing and booking, housekeeping and maintenance to taxes and permitting. In recent years, Vacasa has brought refreshed attention and funding to the vacation rental industry, propelling an antiquated model forward with the use of proprietary technology. Vacasa was selected because the judges believe it has a unique product niche with few competitors, demonstrated strong and stable growth, low turnover, a defined company culture and sense of identity, and a terrific connection to the community.

Founded in 1973, DWFritz Automation designs and manufactures custom automation systems for advanced manufacturing. The company’s expertise includes custom, scalable, precision inspection and assembly automation solutions with unmatched customer support. With an impressive portfolio of clients, including many Fortune 500 corporations, the company has grown revenues by 1,102 percent from 2011 to 2017 and staff has gone from 60 to almost 570 employees worldwide. DWFritz was selected because of their innovative approach to updating an old-line business model, their entrepreneurial vision, the courage of their convictions, and their impressive growth trajectory.

Other finalists in this category were:

Battle of the Schools Award in Memory of Wyatt Starnes

WINNER: Spencer Holton, University of Oregon

Spencer Holton is the Founder and CEO of Trail Supply Co. based in Eugene. Spencer has run a sustainable and profitable business for two years while going to school part-time. He regularly gives back to the entrepreneurial community by serving as a guest speaker in classes and local events and serves as a mentor to younger entrepreneurs. His accolades include being the youngest founder of a Starve Ups company, graduating from the 2016 RAIN Eugene accelerator, and reaching the Semifinal Round in the national collegiate SXSW Startup Madness 2018 competition.

Other finalists in this category were:

Allyson Strowbridge

The OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Event was a fun-filled night, complete with inspiring stories and entertaining MCs, plus great networking opportunities for new business owners such as myself! It was evident on many levels what a supportive community of visionaries and leaders OEN continues to gather, develop, grow and nurture. A big cheers to everyone who contributed to the successful night. Sign me up for next year!”

Allyson Strowbridge, Ctrl+SHIFT+Space

Award Categories

Bootstrap Stage Company Award

“Oregon’s Emerging Startup.” Recognizes a for-profit startup that has achieved significant milestones over the last 18 months. The company has been funded only through personal resources, friends and family, or receivables. The company has been in business for less than five years.
Revenues: Pre-revenue – $0.5 million.

Early Stage Company Award

“Oregon’s Most Promising Startup.” Recognizes a for-profit startup that has achieved significant milestones over the past 18 months. The company has been funded through angel funding, venture capital, or grant funding. The company has been in business for less than five years.
Revenues: Pre-revenue – $1 million.

Development Stage Company Award

“Oregon’s Next Business Home Run.” Recognizes for-profit companies who are improving their product or service and are adding staff to support their growth.
Revenues: Projected revenue for the current year of $1 million to $8 million.

Growth Stage Company Award

“Oregon’s Next Household Name.” Recognizes for-profit companies who have a fully marketable product or service and have acquired a critical mass of customers.
Revenues: Growing revenues of at least 8 million.

Entrepreneurial Achievement Award

Instead of recognizing a promising or successful enterprise, this award recognizes an individual or founding team’s successful entrepreneurship and their professional creativity, risk-taking, and savvy decision-making, as well as their leadership and vision. This award recognizes achievements made in the last 18 months.

Game Changer Award

This award honors both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises that offer a novel solution to a social problem. This social enterprise has a commitment to impact that is central to the mission of the business, a viable business model, and a compelling answer to the question, “Why is your solution better than existing solutions?”

Battle of the Schools Award in Memory of Wyatt Starnes

The OEN Battle of the Schools Award was created to honor the memory of Wyatt Starnes, a technology entrepreneur who passed away in 2014, and honors a nominee embodying Wyatt’s distinguishing qualities: enthusiasm, willingness to work hard toward a goal, fearlessness when it comes to taking big risks and a commitment to changing the world for the better. We invite schools throughout the state to nominate one entrepreneur they work with—either a recent grad, current student, or someone affiliated with an accelerator or other entrepreneurial programs.

Nominations & Judging

Nominations for each year’s Awards open in May. OEN forms seven judging committees comprised of seasoned business leaders and industry experts. In 2018, these committees reviewed about 200 nominations and personally met with 51 semifinalists and 26 finalists across seven Awards categories.

Through a series of interviews and reviews, the judging committees narrow the field to 3-4 finalists per category, ultimately selecting one winner. The exception is the Game Changer Award which is determined by a combination of input from the judging committee and an audience vote.


Companies headquartered in Oregon and SW Washington are eligible to submit a nomination form for the OEN Awards.

About Tom Holce

Tom Holce was an entrepreneur and angel investor who built or helped to build dozens of successful Southwest Washington and Oregon businesses.

He was the founder/CEO of such companies as Kentrox, Sentrol, and Mikros, and held senior positions at ESI, and Plantronics. He also served as Chairman of Seasons Foods, BLT Technologies, Mitron, and Decision Dynamics. He served as Chairman of the Portland Art Museum, and Chairman of Pacific University, was a board member of Unicru, Stormwater Management, EID Access, and Study Dog, and sat on the boards of over 20 other Northwest businesses, organizations and institutions.

Tom was the first winner of OEN’s Lifetime Achievement Award, was High Tech Executive of the Year, and was named Philanthropist of the year 2000. Tom had a BS in Math and Physics and an Honorary Doctor of Science from Pacific University. He held over 20 U.S. patents.

See photos from 2018:

Photos by Edis Jurcys.

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