Meet the 11 Winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022 Central Plains Award

Ten of the 11 winners are from North Texas.

Ernst & Young has unveiled its list of top entrepreneurs from the Central Plains region. And all but one come from North Texas.

EY announced 11 winners in a celebration at Omni Dallas on June 25. The annual Entrepreneur of the Year Central Plains Award includes companies across North Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas with businesses spanning biotechnology and skin care products to artificial intelligence and IT solutions. 

“Innovative thinkers and transformational leaders”

Morgan Watson, EY’s Central Plains program director, kicked off the event in a room “filled with innovative thinkers and transformational leaders representing nearly every sector in the region.”

The 2022 winning entrepreneurs were selected from 46 Entrepreneur of the Year finalists. They’ve “shown us that ambition, courage, ingenuity, and empathy are key to driving change,” Watson says.

“The entrepreneurs and their teams are making significant and lasting contributions to our communities and our economy at large,” he said at the event. “That’s exactly why we’re here.”

Selected by a panel of judges based on things like entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth, and impact, the awards highlight “entrepreneurs building a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous world.”

Meet the 2022 winners 

Photos courtesy of EY.

Joe Urso | ActivePure Technologies LLC

Joe Urso

ActivePure Technologies (Dallas)
After acquiring Electrolux North America in 1998, Urso transformed the company into ActivePure Technologies, an industry leader in creating healthy indoor environments.

Helping people get back to work with a “safe place for them to breathe the air is an amazing opportunity in today’s world,” Urso said.

Barbara Smith | Commercial Metals Company

Barbara Smith

Commercial Metals Company (Irving)
The steel and metal manufacturer’s products are used in every structure that you enjoy in your daily life, according to Smith, who is president and CEO. We like to say at CMC, “we build the world every day,” she said. Smith is helping the more than 100-year-old company “overcome a hostile takeover attempt” and redefine the future.

“CMC is contributing to a better world by producing the greenest clean steel you can find. And we do that by recycling 19 billion tons of steel a year,” she said.

Daniel McCarthy | The Music Bed LLC

Daniel McCarthy

FM (Fort Worth)
FM is a family of brands in the creative industry, including content licensing brands Musicbed and Filmsupply, which are primarily aimed at licensing content to other creatives around the world. McCarthy started his entrepreneurial journey as a creative himself. Today, the CEO leads one of the leading licensing companies in the world.

FM has a team of 85 to 90 people and represents thousands of creatives. “They made a product that we take to market for them,” McCarthy said. The CEO is proudest of “what we’ve been able to accomplish for the creative community over the years … to provide careers and income—and actually empower them to do what they love to do on a daily basis.”

Sulagna Bhattacharya | Nanosope Therapeutics

Sulagna Bhattacharya

Nanoscope Therapeutics (Bedford)
CEO and Co-Founder Bhattacharya leads Nanoscope, a biotech and gene therapy company focused on developing sight-restoring optogenetic therapies for “the millions of patients blinded by retinal degenerative diseases” that have no cure.

“We all are working towards ensuring we will restore vision for all these patients,” Bhattacharya said. The scientist takes inspiration from her dad. He always told me, “when we leave this world, the only thing we leave behind are our footsteps … I hope today I’m holding on to your advice.”

Mike Bidwell | Neighborly

Mike Bidwell

Neighborly (Waco)
Bidwall is president and CEO of Neighborly, a marketplace for home services. “We help small business people build something of significance in their local markets,” Bidwell said.

“We now have 5,000 franchise owners doing what they do. But now we’re reinventing ourselves in the marketplace of home services and disrupting the home services marketplace,” he said. “It’s great to be recognized for that.”

Michael Gorton | Recuro Health

Michael Gorton

Recuro Health (Richardson)
Gorton, who previously founded Teledoc, launched Recuro in 2021 with a $2.9 million oversubscribed funding rounding. The digital health company offers services like virtual care and at-home testing. The startup’s “brand new technology that we call digital medical home,” CEO Gorton says. “We catch things before they become expensive and dangerous.”

“We’re going to keep people healthy,” the CEO said. “We’re going to make sure they don’t get sick. And by virtue of that, we’re going to create a whole new generation of longevity.”

In his acceptance speech, Gorton said, “When we succeed, everybody who doesn’t die first will be as healthy at 100 as they are at 40.”

Maria Carell | Revision Skincare & Goodier Cosmetics

Maria Carell

Revision Skincare and Goodier Cosmetics (Irving)
Carell is CEO of Revision, a developer and manufacturer of topical products and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

“We didn’t follow what the industry was doing,” the CEO said. “We wanted to do with it differently. And what we did was go from a brick and mortar model into a hybrid model.”

Kishore Khandavalli | RiseIT Solutions, Inc.

Kishore Khandavalli

RiseIT Solutions (Addison)
“I’ve been on my journey as an entrepreneur for the last 24 years,” says Khandavalli. “Believe in yourself,” says the CEO, who helms the technology services and software development firm.

Many people will “second-guess you as an entrepreneur,” Khandavelli said. “What you plan to do, what you’re trying to do. The naysayers are “always there,  but when you wake up in the middle of the night, wondering whether you’re going to make payroll the next day or are they going to get the next contract? … Don’t give up and you will be there.”

Tom Ellis | Shiftkey

Tom Ellis

ShiftKey (Irving)
ShiftKey, a human resources software company founded in 2016, is a scheduling and credential management platform focused on the health care industry. The platform aims to disrupt the way facilities typically find professionals to fill available shifts.

Last week, the company invested in Cleveland-based OnShift. “Since our founding, our goal has been to combine the ShiftKey marketplace with a scheduling tool for facility employees,” President and CEO Ellis said in a recent news release. “Our hope is to alleviate the incredible pressure the industry is under to provide the best quality care while optimizing costs and creating transparency,” he said.

Gabe Abshire | Utility Concierge

Gabe Abshire

Utility Concierge (Farmers Branch)
Abshire founded Utility Concierge to “help people when they’re moving to a new home make all their selections
and connections for all remote services with one simple phone call.” The company connects homebuyers with utilities and other home services.

“We’ve got a lot of things on the horizon,” said Abshire. “One thing that’s important … is we’re rolling out a virtual concierge, which is going to allow customers to connect and select all their home services virtually.”

Dave Copps | Worlds

Dave Copps

Worlds (Dallas)
CEO Copps leads Worlds, a spatial artificial intelligence firm creating digital models of real-world environments. With three successful exits from startups under his belt, Worlds emerged from stealth in 2020 with $10 million in Series A funding.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is on multiple occasions I’ve created a place where people are really challenged to be the best they can be,” Copps said.

What’s next

The winners will now be considered by another panel of judges for the Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 National Awards, which includes innovators from more than 60 countries.

Here’s the full list of the program’s 46 finalists from 38 companies that were announced in April

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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