RuleBreaker Award Winners Celebrated July 28th in New Orleans

RuleBreaker Award Winners Celebrated July 28th in New Orleans

By nature, entrepreneurs are rule breakers. They aren't followers. They ignore conventional wisdom. They take the path less traveled. They do things the hard way. They do things their way. To honor these entrepreneurs, and to celebrate them for not embracing the norm, but for breaking the rules and following their own paths, a very special award program has been created: The RuleBreaker Awards.

Created by Rieva Lesonsky, Barry Moltz and Michael Michalowicz, The 2015 RuleBreaker Awards ceremony will be taking place in New Orleans on July 28, 2015. Now in its second year, the event, which is sponsored by Sage North America, Nextiva and Infusionsoft, celebrates entrepreneurs who flout convention, forge their own paths and break all the rules. From the 19 finalists, one grand-prize winner will be selected from the people's choice winner and  judge's choice winner in each of the eight categories.

The finalists include:

Service Provider, Under $1M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice: Annabella Watson of RentBillow. “The rule 'You have to buy everything you need' is no longer relevant. At RentBillow, we seek to create value for individuals by providing a platform through which they can rent their unused assets to other individuals. We also seek to create value for individuals that temporarily need assets and do not want to spend the money to purchase them outright.”
  • Judges’ Choice: Christine Janssen, Lecturer in the Graduate School of Business at Fordham University. “As an entrepreneurship educator in higher education, I pride myself on creating and delivering nontraditional classes. For example: completely paperless courses, minimal PowerPoint (if any), no exams, and no textbooks. The only way you can learn to be an entrepreneur is by doing it.”

Service Provider, $1M-$5M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice: Veronica Schreibeis Smith of Vera Iconica Design.
  • Judges’ Choice: Alex Esposito of The Free Ride. “The Free Ride broke the rules by not charging riders for transportation. TFR uses electric vehicles to cut out the cost of fuel and works with great sponsors to fund the service. By branding the exteriors of the cars, running video advertisements and offering product samples, the company is able to create a great marketing platform that not only promotes brands but also creates an eco-friendly and appreciated service.”

Service Provider, Over $5M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice: Mike Agugliaro of Service Key, which provides home services.
  • Judges’ Choice: Douglas Jackson of Project C.U.R.E., a website that provides resources for those living with childhood cancer

Technology Provider, Under $1M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice: Adrian Dayton of Clearview Social, social marketing software for lawyers

Technology Provider, $1M-$5M in Sales:

Technology Provider, Over $5M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice: Matt Rissel of TSheets. "I’m forging the way for the next tech hub of rural America to combine top talent, quality of life and global domination even as the underdog. It's involved raising the bar for customer service, going up against naysayers and pushing the limits of what’s common or accepted from small business owners up against the big guys."
  • Judges’ Choice: Manish Patel of Where2GetIt, . "I was told to raise money. That was the only way to survive this volatile game we call entrepreneurship. I did the opposite. Instead of raising money I focused on three things: profit, growth and sustainability. Eighteen years later, we stand as one of the strongest players in this industry."

Retailers, Under $1M in Sales:

  • Judges’ Choice: Vaiana and Bill Attinger of Le Motto. “Le Motto broke almost every rule in fashion. We created a 100 percent positive, meaningful brand and ignored the mainstream wisdom to be crude or vulgar. Then, we took our inspirational messages directly to fashion lovers around the world through social media, releasing new styles weekly, not once per season.”

Retailers, $1M-$5M in Sales:

  • People’s and Judges’ Choice: Nima Noori of Toronto Vaporizer. “We broke the rules by marketing vaporizers as gadgets for health-conscious connoisseurs, rather than as smoking paraphernalia. Our community talks using our lingo, and although we are an ecommerce store, we have a boutique vaporizer showroom for customers to be personally assisted with their order, without the stigma.”

Manufacturer, Under $1M in Sales:

  • People’s Choice: Kurt Shafer of Invisco, a manufacturer of whole-house and variable-speed fans.
  • Judges’ Choice: Jeff Crabtree of Crabtree Brewing, a microbrewing company

Manufacturer, $1M-$5M in Sales:

  • People’s and Judges’ Choice: Craig Wolfe of Celebrity Ducks. “Everyone told us it was impossible to do small hand-painted rotational molded toys in the U.S., especially rubber ducks. We knew that the rubber duck industry actually began in the USA in the 1800s before it all went overseas. We decided to return the whole industry to America [and] to be the only ones making them here once again. We are now considered one of the top custom duck manufacturers in the world.”


Startup RuleBreaker: Beau D'Arcy of Breakwater Chicago. “Breakwater Chicago is breaking the rules of conventional vessel design to create an entertainment venue unique to Chicago: a national and international attraction bringing visitors to experience a world-class city in an unprecedented way, by enjoying an extraordinary location that is both luxurious and truly at harmony with its environment.”

Marketing RuleBreaker: Jack Goldenberg of Einstein, da Vinci & Goldenberg. “Under the auspices of my freelance marketing agency, Einstein, da Vinci & Goldenberg, I founded an organization, Sisterhood of the Pantsuit that empowers women and will break a 227-year-old rule by helping to elect the first female President of the United States in 2016.”

“Choosing the finalists was a difficult decision,” said co-host Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan. “It was inspiring to discover so many entrepreneurs revolutionizing their industries.”

Winners were selected by a panel of judges including:

  • Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE
  • JJ Ramberg, co-founder of Good Search and host of MSNBC’s Your Business
  • Anita Campbell, founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and BizSugar
  • Ramon Ray, Marketing and Technology Evangelist of and Infusionsoft
  • Sham Hyder, the CEO of Marketing Zen Group and author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing
  • Gabrielle Boko, the Executive VP of Sage North America

For more about the 2015 RuleBreaker Awards and the winners, visit them online at