The IOTY award (sometimes referred to as the “eye-oh-tee”) goes to a Pipeline fellow based on a business plan competition, a pitch competition, and overall growth from the past year. Last year’s winner was Alicia Herald of myEDmatch.
The “Passion” themed evening gala brought together entrepreneurs and startup community builders from across Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, from as far as Wichita and St. Louis.
The evening included a variety of skits, videos, speeches and music, with generous references to Irish culture. This year one of the four Pipeline modules for fellows will be in Ireland, where entrepreneurs will connect with the startup ecosystem there. Two of the pitch competition judges, Marie Helena and David Bradley, were also from Ireland. (Bradley filled in for the scheduled Paul Singh at the last minute.)
The many presenters of the night echoed the same warm conviviality of the day’s events. Many of them spoke about how they are so proud to be part of the Pipeline family and the difference it has made in their lives, both through mentorship and social support.
Perhaps the most revealing moment of the evening came when Ben Vu of SkyVu Entertainment was introducing a short film and shared how his Pipeline friends supported him during a difficult time in his business over the past year.
“Pipeline believes in us even when we struggle to believe in ourselves,” said Vu.
The evening ended with the announcement of their 10th class of fellows and a barn-burning finale complete with a gospel choir filling the stage to sing Eric Clapton’s “Change The World.”
The first module of 2016 will begin February 24th in Kansas City.
Ryan Pendell is the Manging Editor of Silicon Prairie News.