NH Tech Alliance: Entrepreneur of the Year, other winners of 2020 Virtual Innovation Summit announced

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Joel Nkounkou, Chief Executive Officer of ecoText, was recipient of the $200,000 Millworks investment fund. Screenshot

MANCHESTER, NH – The NH Tech Alliance concluded its inaugural Innovation Summit with a professionally live-streamed main event on December 3. The program which aired on Facebook Live and YouTube live featured pitches from six NH startups, an investment announcement from Millworks Fund II and the naming of the 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year. Audience participants voted for their People’s Choice award.

Bob Wilkins, CEO of SoClean

“For nearly a decade, the Alliance’s TechOut and Startup Shindig events have been a platform for startups to gain exposure and meet fellow entrepreneurs throughout the state, the pairing of these programs with the Entrepreneur of the Year just made sense,” said Julie Demers, executive director, NH Tech Alliance. “We were able to celebrate all stages of entrepreneurship on a virtual platform that has the potential for national and even global reach.”

Bob Wilkins of SoClean was named the 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year. Wilkins is an executive entrepreneur with a passion for people and emerging technology—and more than 33 years of experience marketing and selling products to businesses and consumers.

“Thank you to the Tech Alliance for this great honor. Being an entrepreneur means you surround yourself with great people. You surround yourself with people that can help you fill your gaps and get where you need you to go. I’ve been fortunate in my career to be able to do that. Everyone who has worked around me has better and smarter at what they do than I am and it is a great honor to work with the team I have today and the teams I have had in the past. I want to thank you to everybody that has been on all these rides with me over the year,” Wilkins said in a video message.

Wilkins spent 11 years as President and Executive Vice President with PC Connection, a Fortune 1000 reseller of high-tech equipment. While there, he was instrumental in turning a private, unprofitable company with $250 million in annual sales into a public, profitable company with $750 million in annual sales in four years. During Wilkin’s full tenure, the company grew to $1.6 billion in annual sales and 1,700 employees.

Over the years, Wilkins has founded more than nine companies, including:

  • AirTank, a small startup that he transformed into a hybrid angel fund and sales/marketing agency, which creates growth for its clients via online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart.

  • ziftrSHOP, the only platform where resellers can manage their eCommerce website sales and marketplaces all in one location.

  • Zones (Founder/CEO), where he grew sales to over $1 million per month in his first 90 days, ultimately peaking at $600 million in annual sales and a public offering.

  • Mac’s Place (Founder/CEO), where Bob and his team wrote the software that ran the company (Sales, Customer Service, & Warehouse Management) and raised $7.5 million in venture capital, successfully growing the company to an acquisition by Egghead Software in 1995. In 1996 that software was sold to a young startup company called Amazon. That software powered Amazon for two decades.

In addition to these accomplishments, Bob holds two technology patents, two game patents and has several patents pending for software products.

Bob Wilkins currently serves as CEO of SoClean, where he has been a board member since inception. In late 2017, he led SoClean to a successful purchase by DWHP and continues to drive the company’s rapid global expansion.

Six startups from NH joined the virtual stage for the event’s startup showcase:

Additional sponsors include: Comcast, Sunrise Labs, Sheehan Phinney, People’s United Bank, Cross Insurance, Manchester Boston Regional Airport, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Paragon Digital Marketing, McLane Middleton, Events United, JLA Analytics, BC Investment and Trade Office, Bank of America.

Gray Chynoweth and Liz Hitchcock, partners at Millworks Fund Series II, a partnership among New Hampshire investors and the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority joined the event virtually to award ecoText an intent of investment of $200,000.  Chynoweth noted that ecoText had been a finalist for the Millworks Funding last year stating that “their progress over the course of the year, their receptiveness to feedback, efforts to show more traction and grow as entrepreneurs earned them the investment.”

People’s Choice award was selected after the six startups pitched.  While a strong showing across the startups existed the final count led to RentVue being named People’s Choice for 2020.

About the NH Tech Alliance 

The NH Tech Alliance is a statewide technology association dedicated to supporting companies at every stage of growth and development – from startups to established leaders in the global economy. We are committed to nurturing a vibrant tech ecosystem in NH by building partnerships, enhancing knowledge and shaping public policy. http://nhta.org

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New Hampshire Tech Alliance