Congratulations to the finalists of the 2016 Moxie Awards!

Written by Sam Dewey
Published on May. 17, 2016
Congratulations to the finalists of the 2016 Moxie Awards!

14 winners. 7,000 nominations. Five years running. One night. New venue. 

And a caliber of innovation that — quite simply — can’t be so cleanly computed.

Built In Chicago’s Moxie Awards are back, and this year we’re celebrating Chicago’s cream-of-the-crop digital technology companies like never before. Chicago’s tech scene is absolutely ablaze: we’ve got established tech trailblazers showing no signs of slowing down, and an ocean of newcomers whose ideas are prime to disrupt, discover, and redefine what’s capable with technology.

That the competition has never been fiercer is a testament to the ideas we’re testing and the products we’re building right here in Chicago.

Congratulations to all of the finalists listed below. To see which companies will take home one of our coveted Moxies, mark your calendars for June 16, and we'll meet you at Morgan Manufacturing. Get your tickets now — you won’t want to miss out!

The Moxie Awards are made possible thanks to these sponsors. 


Best Consumer Web Startup


With sales more than doubled and online sales up sevenfold, BucketFeet has fast become one of Chicago's hottest startups. They've quadrupled in number of retail stores (Chicago x2, DC, Miami) and have grown their artist community to 40,000 artists from 120 countries — plus a social following of 80 million and shoes sold in 15 countries. 


Research, configure, and lease any new vehicle on the planet, delivered to your door...and never set foot in a dealership again. They're reporting a 3X year-over-year revenue expansion with a 26X return on customer LTV.


Each month, millions of Curiosity users spend over 200,000 hours improving their brains and their lives. Whether they're learning how it snows metal on Venus, meeting a giant squid or tackling a logic puzzle, our audience keeps getting smarter. We make it fun and easy to learn something new each day.


In just one year post launch, Radish has grown from a few hundred users to 15,000 users strong. We have the highest-rated delivery food experience in Chicago, consistently delivering the most delicious meals faster than anyone (we’ve averaged 13 minutes per delivery since launch), with the best customer service in the business. We’ve also grown tremendously as a team since launching 12 months ago: starting as a team of three, we’re now a company of over 50! 


TurboAppeal is the only technology to automate the property tax appeal process. They launched in 2015 in Cook County and by the end of this year TurboAppeal will be live in over 120 counties across 18 states and will be the first company to have ever addressed this problem nationally. In addition, TurboAppeal has saved more than $20 million in property taxes for residential homeowners. In only 14 months, TurboAppeal has appealed property taxes for more homes than any other residential property tax service in the U.S.


Best B2B Startup


Since launching in April of 2015, OfficeLuv has consistently grown its revenue by more than 35 percent month over month while increasing the team from two to 80 employees. Through our platform, we provide a customized cleaning service, automated supply replenishment and other essential office services for over 200 companies throughout Chicago.


ReviewTrackers software elevates the voice of the customer and enables brands to innovate based on customer feedback. They're an award-winning category leader in a high-growth industry and take a conservative approach to raising capital while scaling revenue 10X. They've tripled their team size twice and will hit 90 employees by the end of 2016.


The fastest growing company in MarTech, Strike Social is profitable, growing revenue 7973 percent between 2013 and 2015. Our team expanded from 12 to 75, with 40 new Chicago hires planned by end of 2016. Strike serves Fortune 100 clients and the world’s largest ad agencies by making media buying simple.


Built by Chicago project managers, Sushi serves up beautifully designed, easy to digest status reports that your clients will actually read. Rather than another tool, Sushi integrates with the tools that your team already users, making reports fresher and more relevant for more effective teams.


Synap is the collaborative CRM that connects to email, Help Desk and sales tools and automatically tracks your customer activity. Founded by Chicago startup veterans, Synap raised $2 million, assembled a core team and launched a beta in its first year. Next step: storming the $50 billion+ SaaS CRM market.


Best New Startup


DRIVIN sources, acquires, delivers, and markets used-cars for dealer partners through data and technology — saving time and increasing profitability. Growing to 80 employees in 10 months, DRIVIN is now in five markets across the U.S. They had a 2,000 percent year-over-year increase in transaction count. DRIVIN partners with auto leaders such as Black Book and AutoCheck.


Since launching in April of 2015, OfficeLuv has consistently grown revenues by more than 35 percent MoM while increasing the team from two to 80 employees. Through our platform, we provide a customized cleaning service, automated supply replenishment and other essential office services for over 200 companies throughout Chicago.


We're helping high-growth employers like UpRight Law and the member companies of our partner, 1871, attract and retain top talent. ​We've partnered with U.S. Congressman to introduce new legislation that would help our clients; collaborating with top universities, brokers and service providers. We were named the winner of YPO Innovation Week and named one of Built In Top 50 Startups to Watch 2016.


Pearachute is on a mission to help parents and children spend more meaningful time together. In the 2.5 months since launch, members have gone to 3,300 classes, and we’ve generated $30,000 in revenue for local businesses. We’re opening a second city this summer and will be in four cities by year's end.


In the past year, Tovala won the New Venture Challenge and graduated Y Combinator. After YC, we brought the company and our experience home to Chicago to complete a $255,000 Kickstarter campaign and acquire over 1,000 new pre-order customers. In that year, our team quadrupled from two to eight, with seven of us coming from the top three Illinois universities.


Startup of the Year


BookedOut technology has disrupted a dated experiential marketing business model. We’ve added 25 agency partners since July to launch 2,800 campaigns comprised of 46,500 activations employing 7,000 brand staff. We added two revenue channels, expanded Microsoft support and activated 175 brands at major lifestyle events. All this with a crazy team of 25.


Civis Analytics is proud to contribute to Chicago's startup community, growing from 15 employees to 110 in less than three years — and hiring! Our innovative products and services continue to help our growing client base solve big problems with data, as illustrated with our revenues projected to double from 2015 to 2016.


In the last 12 months alone, Geofeedia acquired more than 200 new customers across industries that include major sports leagues, household brands, retailers and marketers, government and public safety organizations, and entertainment venues; grew from 17 employees to 50; experienced year-over-year revenue growth of 250 percent; raised $17 million in funding (February); launched Geofeedia Ads for unparalleled targeting in social ad campaigns; and became a Twitter Standard Partner.


Launching the first online eye exam nine months ago, Opternative has received more than 65,000 signups, raised Series A funding and doubled the size of its team. In 2016, Opternative is joining forces with your favorite retailers to solidify its reputation as the most convenient way to get a prescription.


Uptake is a predictive analytics platform provider that transforms data into measurable gains in productivity, cost savings and operational safety. Working with global industry leaders, Uptake has attracted elite talent to revolutionize the industrial sector. Founded in 2014, Uptake employs over 400 and has been reportedly valued at $1.1 billion.


Best Social Impact Startup


Edovo works to reduce recidivism by providing incarcerated people with access to tech-enabled educational and rehabilitative programming. Courses are tailored to inmates’ learning-levels and interests, and our incentive-based platform engages users. Edovo turns incarceration into motivation, while enhancing facility operations and security.


Infiniteach leverages mobile technology to connect the one in 45 individuals being diagnosed with autism to the people and world around them through best practice strategies. We empower a deserving community to reach their full potential.


Patients know and trust their existing healthcare providers. By working in conjunction with those teams, Regroup is able to provide access to patients when and where it can be most effective. The company is already providing these services to well-known outpatient centers, hospitals and primary care clinics. Those entities say that before Regroup, patients simply were not receiving the care they needed. Now, for Regroup partners, mental health shortage is quickly becoming a thing of the past.


Skill Scout’s on a crusade against lame hiring. We bring jobs and candidates to life through job videos and hands-on interviews. Jobs become exciting. Candidates who don’t look good on paper show their skills. Companies tell us they’re hiring people they never would’ve considered before. #HRAgainstLame


Zero Percent PBC has a platform that helps restaurants and corporate dining to donate perishable food, prevent waste and help their bottom line. It has rescued 1.1 million meals from over 100 businesses for more than 70 local charities. We believe hunger is a distribution problem. Chicago, we can solve it!


Most Disruptive Startup


mLevel reinvents the way employees learn by transforming dull traditional eLearning courses into fun interactive learning experiences that are mobile and social, too! By leveraging mLevel’s game-based learning platform, over 50 top brands have accelerated better learning outcomes and business results.


"Optometry finally has its Uber, its Airbnb." Drawing attention from every major news outlet, the Opternative online eye exam has become synonymous with disruption battling traditional legislation and lobbyist groups.


Does your shirt track your gym workout? Or smartwatch analyze your golf swing? Knee brace tell you whether those physical therapy exercises were done properly? This isn’t science fiction. Rithmio makes these products a reality today with its motion recognition software for wearables.


Corporations are projecting a 50 percent growth in employee relocation assignments by the year 2020, and UrbanBound is positioned to remain the leader in filling the significant technology void in the industry. UrbanBound empowers companies with the technology to administer, track and optimize relocation benefits. By bringing a tech-enabled solution to the largely offline corporate relocation process, UrbanBound ensures that corporations can forecast and contain relocation costs, build smarter policies and distribute better benefits. 


We integrate the best of people and technology to simplify and expedite the immigration process via patented technology, a high-quality retained legal team and comprehensive support — a combination that makes us truly unique in this space; saves customers time, money and stress; and helps individuals grow, businesses succeed and families reconnect.


Digital Agency of the Year


Groupon launches in 25 new U.S. markets. GiveForward app helps donors connect. Whittl raises major series B off heels of app success. GrowIt users rate plants over 1 million times. Bootstrapped for seven years, we help Chicago tech strategize, define and focus their web and mobile apps to become the best.


In the past five years LYONSCG grew headcount from two to 300, increased revenue sixfold, opened global offices and landed on the Inc. 5000 six times, Crain’s Fast 50 twice and number nine on Consulting Magazine’s fastest-growing firms. Our global client roster and numerous design and performance awards make us the premier, fastest-growing eCommerce digital agency.


One North’s growing team of more than 90 strategists, designers, technologists, brand and account managers is proud to help hundreds of professional services and B2B organizations create digital solutions focused on strengthening their most valuable asset: their relationships. Vote for our innovative team to win Digital Agency of the Year!


Risers take data seriously and we're always finding new ways to make our clients look like rock stars. A dedication to building a strong team that delivers superior results for our clients shows in our growth; our employee base grew more than 80% last year and our growth spurt is still going strong!


Solstice is an innovation and digital engineering firm headquartered in Chicago. We make it our mission to keep our focus on the end-user of our products, the customer. In the last year, we have experienced double-digit growth in revenue, created more than 75 jobs in Chicago, and impacted thousands of customers with our digital solutions.


Best B2B Company


Centro automates advertising for 2,500 customers through technology. Marketers rely on it to unify every aspect of digital advertising in one software platform. Rising to 700 employees in North America, with 300 in Chicago, Centro fortified its business in 2015 with $30 million in funding.


At InContext Solutions, we are proud to have been a pioneer in developing cloud-based virtual reality solutions for the retail industry. It was something that had never been done before, and now, seven years later, we are growing exponentially as a company and are so excited for the future. InContext is unique in that we are a technology company working within the B2B space using virtual reality — which is often more known for its entertainment and consumer-focused applications. But we’ve proven how valuable VR is to businesses looking to work faster, smarter and more profitably.


As the leading provider of ratings and reviews technology, PowerReviews has experienced explosive growth. In the past two years, we’ve hired more than 100 people to service our growing client base of more than 1,000 global brands and retailers and experienced significant revenue growth.


SIM Partners’ Velocity platform is delivering on the promise of location marketing by turning “near me” moments of search into “next” moments of conversion. With mobile search exploding, SIM Partners has grown new business revenue by 200 percent year over year and continues to pioneer “near me” search marketing.


Yello is revolutionizing one of the last frontiers of B2B: talent acquisition. Our software eliminates gaps in the hiring experience for the next generation of recruiters and job seekers. In the last year, we’ve grown our customer base to include 70-plus Fortune 500 companies and our headcount by about 150 percent.


Best Consumer Web


Avant is an online lending platform that is lowering the costs and barriers of borrowing for consumers. In three years, more than $3 billion in loans have been issued through the platform, serving more than 500,000 customers. Customers may apply through the website and are approved in real-time, receiving funds as soon as the next business day.


Every day we create viral content that engages and inspires millions of people across the social web. Audience growth grew fourfold last year. This year, we added 20 ‘Dosers’ in Chicago and plan to open offices in NY and LA and plan to scale aggressively. We are launching a native ad program and innovative video product. And we are just getting started.


GoHealth has grown from a young startup with a handful of employees to a tech veteran in Chicago with hundreds of employees in River North. Using proprietary technology and innovative strategies, we’ve helped millions of people access health care — and we have no intentions of slowing down now.


Guaranteed Rate is changing the way people buy homes. Its Digital Mortgage technology enables people to get approved for a loan online, anytime, anywhere — in 30 minutes or less. We keep our customers happy with a 95 percent satisfaction rate.


SpotHero is the number one parking reservation service in terms of parking sales and cars parked. The company has parked over 2.5 million cars, exceeded 100,000 reservations in a single month and reached number three in the App Store's Navigation category. In the past year, SpotHero has doubled in size, reaching 100 employees, up from 50 last year.


Best Office Space


Avant’s new global headquarters in the Chicago Loop total more than 80,000 square feet to house the company’s growing team. Amenities include an outdoor terrace, daily catered lunch, fully stocked kitchen and games galore like Ping Pong, pool and Pop-A-Shot as well as secret meeting rooms like a vintage Nintendo game room.


Our office has personality. It brightens our day with dual skylights and riverfront views. It recharges us with daily catered lunch. It quenches our thirst in the bar. It relaxes us in our game room. It keeps us entertained with movie night and community events. It. Is. Awesome.


We believe that having a great working environment can raise the energy of our team, which can be a differentiator for our organization. We want our office space to contribute to our people’s well-being by bringing them a sense of happiness when they walk through our doors every morning, because moods have a clear effect on teamwork.


Morningstar’s business model is based on the concept of transparency, seen in both our work and the design of our workspace. The design is meant to reflect our brand to both employees and clients, and we use similar design elements in all of our offices globally. We have an open-office environment with no individual offices, closed doors, or cubicles.


When SAP Fieldglass relocated to new offices on Canal Street, the leadership team’s goal was to create a space with impact. Employees look forward to collaborating in an office filled with hammocks, patio swings, nautical themed conference rooms and ivy-covered walls.


Best Company Culture


Ask us “why kCura?” We say, “our people.” kCura is a team of passionate tech and business geeks solving data challenges, big and small. We are grounded in our community, living our core values from day one. What else makes us stand out? Clear communication: check. Accountability: check. Professional growth: check. Killer Queen: check.   


Our high-performance culture is built on transparency, open communication, accountability and engagement — which extends across all levels and departments. We believe in encouraging diversity, enriching our employees, personally and professionally, and having a good time while we’re at it.


Our work hard, play hard attitude has guided our team to grow more than 80 percent over the past year and it isn't the happy hours or the snacks (although they're a big plus) that make our culture stand out. It's the fact that our team is actively generating Rise's culture, not just consuming it.


The bedrock of UrbanBound is our culture driven by our six core values: Eager to learn and excited to teach, Build a positive team and family spirit, Be responsive, See the big picture, Do more faster, and We'll figure it out. It is something that no other company can replicate and something we take tremendous pride in building day by day. We believe a great culture is caught and not taught. We set an environment here that has a balance of fun and liveliness on one hand, and high expectations and productivity on the other. That along with our core values we live and breathe, is a combination that we truly believe sets UrbanBound apart from the rest.


Yello employees love coming to work everyday because we live and work our core values: Nothing is impossible, be reliable, enjoy the journey and own your personality. Not to mention perks such as catered Monday lunches, unlimited vacation days, sponsored sports leagues and unlimited healthy snacks.


Breakthrough Digital Company


Founded in 2004, Cleversafe, an IBM Company, has grown into a global object storage market leader providing flexible on-premise, public cloud and hybrid cloud solutions designed to solve petabyte-and-beyond storage challenges. Acquired by IBM in 2015, Cleversafe delivers enterprise-grade security, reliability and simplified storage management.


10 years. 2,000 Coyotes. 17 offices. A UPS company. No Excuses. Built In Chicago ranked Coyote number four on its 2015 list of Chicago’s Top 100 Digital Companies. We internally design and build our technology, from mobile apps for customers, carriers, and Coyotes to our core BAZOOKA® technology platform to an online analytics portal.


In the past year, Sprout raised $42 million in funding, launched two new products, built on 2015’s 32 percent employee growth and was featured on the Inc. 500 (No. 78 with 3,918 percent three-year revenue growth), Deloitte Technology Fast 500 (No. 21) and Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces lists.


Uptake is a predictive analytics platform provider that transforms data into measurable gains in productivity, cost savings and operational safety. Working with global industry leaders, Uptake has attracted elite talent to revolutionize the industrial sector. Founded in 2014, Uptake employs over 400 and has been reportedly valued at $1.1 billion. 


Vivid Seats is the fastest growing marketplace for sports, concert and theater tickets. We offer the perks, culture, and opportunity of an entrepreneurial start-up, supported by the scale, stability, and resources of 15 years of profitable growth.


Woman in Tech

Shradha Agarwal, Co-Founder & President, 

Leading product and talent at 400-person health information services company. Serving community with time, mentorship and other resources to inspire entrepreneurs, women and youth to follow their passion with confidence. Past winner honored to be nominated again.

Tari Haro, CMO, 

Tari has transformed SIM Partners from a local SEO company into a category leader in location marketing. She has led product innovations, including Velocity Wallet, to connect “near me” searches with store purchases. New business revenue has grown by 200 percent year over year (marketing efforts have influenced 97 percent).

Erin Karam, CTO, 

I followed my passion: computer science. I am lucky enough, 15 years, four kids, a failed startup, and a Boston marathon later to still be living my passion for technology today: through learning, teaching, and creating. I lead to bring out the best in others and can only hope to inspire along the way.

Amanda Lannert, CEO, 

Amanda is CEO of Jellyvision, an award-winning and heartfelt software company that’s on a bit of a tear. Jellyvision has grown from 50 to more than 300 amazing employees in the last 4 years and now has more than 600 enterprise customers. Amanda serves on multiple boards, tries to encourage other women leaders and enjoys a good cupcake.

Julie Rodgers, VP / General Manager, 

Unbeatable office space in downtown Chicago, with views of the Chicago River and Navy Pier. Our Chicago office is currently in a hybrid working model!

Julie is an exceptional leader, a savvy operator and without rival in her ability to cultivate and grow high-output teams. She’s a passionate advocate for diversity in tech, and her journey and personal story serve as inspiration for the next generation of Chicago’s ascendant female tech leaders.


CEO of the Year

Kayne Grau, 

Our Chicago office is located in River West on the North Branch of the Chicago River. We have free shuttles to major train stations and CTA lines.

In less than a year, Kayne Grau has overseen the strategic direction and rapid growth of DRIVIN, an automotive tech startup with 80 employees who are shaking up a tired industry. Grau has a solid track record of building teams and reinvigorating businesses. Moving into year two with year-over-year transactional value growth of 1,037 percent, he’s proving he can keep DRIVIN moving in the fast lane.  

Tim Handorf, 

Tim, an entrepreneurial veteran, leads with our company values and culture at the forefront. We never waiver from our ‘buyers come first’-commitment. G2 Crowd is succeeding through our entrepreneurial spirit, compassion, authenticity, continuous learning, living at the peak and expecting excellence.

Jon Morris, 

Jon Morris' persistence, dedication, and innovative approach to digital marketing has led Rise Interactive to tremendous growth. Starting from humble beginnings, Jon has turned $10,000 into a multi-million dollar business with a dedicated team of more than 200 digital marketers.

Rishi Shah, 

Founder of the largest and fastest-growing company in health technology, serving 375 million patient visits annually. Consistent driver of triple-digit growth in revenue, headcount and distribution, with a passion for investing in people, ideas and Chicago. Seeking: red trophy.

Jason Weingarten, 

Most of us work from whatever fabulous location we live in! Yello has employees in 19 different states. While the company is virtual first, those in Chicago can use our beautiful office in the Loop, a block from the Art Institute and Millennium Park, with panoramic 360 degree views of Chicago!

Over the past year, through Jason Weingarten’s leadership, Yello’s headcount has grown by about 150 percent, becoming one of the fastest growing Chicago tech companies. Yello dominates the talent acquisition software market counting 70-plus Fortune 500 companies in its portfolio. Plus, he can out-karaoke any other CEO with Wagon Wheel.

Images via Shutterstock. 

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