Entrepreneurs Honored at Inaugural Dandi Awards


By Elizabeth M. Mack
Democrat staff writer

As she scanned the packed ballroom at Hotel Duval, Elizabeth Barbour said the spirit of entrepreneurship was alive and well in Tallahassee.

Barbour, founder and CEO of The Inspired Entrepreneur, welcomed entrepreneurs from all over the community to Thursday evening's inaugural Dandi Awards, a sold-out event put on by e2eConnect.

The idea of the award ceremony came about in spring 2010 from Deanna Mims and Laura Reeves after a brainstorming session during dinner.

The two ladies came up with e2e Connect, Learn, Share, a network of entrepreneurs with the mission of educating, mentoring and encouraging entrepreneurs to be successful, Reeves said.

The Dandi Awards would be e2e Connect's first "expression" and kickoff event of sorts, Mims added.

"(Being an entrepreneur) should be commended," said Kim Moore, CEO of WorkForce Plus. "Challenge breeds opportunity. And tonight's event highlights the success of thinking outside the box and confronting that challenge."

During the event entrepreneurs, sponsors and collaborators mingled, enjoyed local entertainment and, of course, won awards.

There were more than 50 nominations from people throughout the community, which were then whittled down to 42 applicants. But there were only 17 finalists on the night of the event.

Each award category was based on the different types of entrepreneurs: accidental, compassionate, confident, renegade, rising star, serial and transcendent.

Donna Smithey, winner of the Serial Entrepreneur Award and owner of Singing Tallygram and In Tents Events, said she's seen a lot happen in the business community. And having an award ceremony of this kind — honoring individuals for just taking the risk — is very needed.

"I think what happened was the big fish seem to get all the publicity," she said. "But it really is all the small ones that are the backbone of the community. This was an excellent way of recognizing us, the small businesses."

Dandi Award winners:

Accidental – Joel Scilley, Audiowood

Compassionate – Dr. Mignon Lawson Emenike, The Wellness Center

Confident - James and Shannon Caldwell, The Canopy of Technology

Renegade – Arthur T. Aveling, Magic Whiteboard Products

Rising Star – Jean Bates, Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery

Serial – Donna Smithey, Singing Tallygram and In Tents Events

Transcendant – Donda Combs, Applied Appreciation