The Smart Hustle Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year awards honors business owners, entrepreneurs and champions of small business who best exemplify the hustle, the Smart Hustle, of entrepreneurship and the small business community.

Considered leaders by their peers, Smart Hustle Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year honorees are professionals who demonstrate success in business ownership and are leaders and positive contributors to the business community or champions of the small business community.

Join us on Nov 8, 2018, at the 13th Annual Smart Hustle Small Business Conference as we celebrate, in person and bestow trophies to the 2018 Smart Hustle Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year.

2018 Honorees


Liz Carusso

Liz Caruso is an event planning superhero by day, and closeted tech geek and introvert by night. Distraught by the thought of everyday civilians being conquered by spreadsheets, she resolved to re-channel her organizational and tech savvy superpowers and launched Liz King Events while still running events full time for Columbia University. Liz voraciously shared content on event best practices via social media and quickly became a thought leader/influencer amongst her peers. Her hopes of being an incognito event superhero went down the drain as her cover was blown once she started making cameos on lits like 'Successful Meetings list of 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry" for two years in a row and 'Connect Magazine's list of 40 Under 40 Up-and-Coming Event Planners in 2011". Liz now comfortably wears her cape and employs her superpowers to helps entrepreneurs/brands like Claudia Chan and Ramit Sethi plan smart, tech-savvy events to better engage their attendees. 

Joe Connolly

Joe Connolly, “the voice of smaller businesses in New York,” has covered the White House, politics, and the Olympics. Joe was Assistant News Director at WTOP Newsradio in Washington and Managing Editor at the RKO Radio Networks in New York. Joe has won numerous awards from groups ranging from the New York Press Club to the New York Society of Certified Public Accountants for excellence in financial reporting. Hia daily CBS-Bloomberg Business Reports remains one of the most popular programming elements on WCBS Newsradio 880 today. Joe’s reports, described as “business news for everyone” distill financial information in a consumer-friendly way. New York Magazine once praised Joe for turning “routine business stories” into “instructive stories.” 

Sylvie DiGiusto

As a professional Keynote Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Branding Expert, Sylvie DiGiusto uses her multi-cultural background to work with leaders from around the world who place great importance on themselves and their reputation. With twenty years of corporate experience, a cutting-edge approach combined with a competitive mindset, and a passion for visualization Sylvie helps professionals and corporations to explore how people make up their minds very quickly about them, their leadership potential or their company, and either open the door for them or slam it shut. Sylvia is the 2018 - 2019 President of the National Speakers Association, NYC Chapter

Alfred Edmond

Alfred Edmond Jr. is a senior VP and executive editor-at-large at Black Enterprise. He and his wife Zara D. Green are the co-founders of and co-authors of Loving In the Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to Making Healthy Decisions in the Quest for Loving, Romantic Relationships of Honor, Esteem and Respect (Balboa Books). 


Helena Escalante

Helena Escalante is a professional marketing, communications and translations consultant. She brings 20 years of experience, divided among the private and public sectors both in Mexico and the United States. The goal of her professional career and her company has always been to help business executives find the right business partners, establish successful marketing strategies for their products and services, and increase their sales. She has great knowledge in the realm of multicultural marketing, advertising, public relations and communications, and she has focused on creating a positive presence in the Spanish-speaking world for her clients. In this fashion, companies acquire an important market share within their niche in the Hispanic marketplace as they tap into the unparalleled purchasing power of the Spanish–speaking market in the United States, Latin America and Spain. Couple this with the fact that she is also well-versed in the latest technology used for marketing and advertising and you have a winning combination to create a tailored, successful synergy for your products or services in the Spanish-speaking world. 

Adrienne Garland

Adrienne Garland, CEO of She Leads Media, develops and curates relevant, actionable content for, and bring experts and thought leaders to, women entrepreneurs and business leaders via conferences and events that are attended by hundreds of people in NYC and the surrounding NY Metro Area since 2013. Adrienne is a speaker and moderator on the topics of Women's Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship and Transitioning from Corporate to Entrepreneurship. 


Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV, and business podcast host of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on C-Suite Radio. As a leading business expert, Hayzlett is frequently cited in Forbes, SUCCESS, Mashable, Marketing Week and Chief Executive, among many others. He shares his executive insight and commentary on television networks like Bloomberg, MSNBC, Fox Business, and C-Suite TV. Hayzlett is a former Bloomberg contributing editor and primetime host. 

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the CEO of Ptex Group, an award-winning branding and marketing agency headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. He is a lifelong entrepreneur, passionate about collaborating with growing businesses to create winning strategies that yield hard-hitting results. Hoffman is the founder of the LTB Business Summit, lauded as "North America's business conference for Jewish entrepreneurs."​ This movement is helping countless entrepreneurs flourish by providing them with powerful educational tools needed to learn, grow and lead. In addition, Hoffman frequently shares his strategies at public-speaking engagements for regional corporations and conferences. Meny is a proud husband and father of lucky seven. 

Zachary Lezberg

Zachary Lezberg is a New York-based small business expert and founder of Small Business Expo, the nation’s largest industry event of its kind taking place in major cities across the United States. He’s counseled thousands of founders over the years and believes all should honor the entrepreneurial spirit within them. 


Richard Lorenzen

Richard Lorenzen is an American entrepreneur, investor and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of the New York public relations firm Fifth Avenue Brands. The firm focuses on media relations serving the tech, finance and policy spaces. He is regularly cited as one of the most influential millennial entrepreneurs in America. LinkedIn named Richard one of the top millennial influencers of 2016 while Entrepreneur Magazine ranked him one of the top 50 people in digital marketing and Inc. Magazine ranked him one of the top eight entrepreneurs on Twitter. Richard is regularly featured by Forbes, Fox News, Business Insider and Inc. Magazine and is a contributor to Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine. He now spends significant time speaking worldwide to audiences ranging from schools to executive conferences about entrepreneurship. 

Rachel Michaelov

Rachel Michealov is a Small Business Tax Expert, with over a decade of experience helping Small Business Owners increase their profit margins and keep more of their hard-earned money.  Experienced in streamlining the accounting functions of companies to improve their cash flow and grow their business.  Demonstrated ability to work across all industries and licensed nationwide.  Graduate of Touro College, Licensed Enrolled Agent (EA) and Founder of Empire Tax USA.  


Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consulting organization that she launched 27 years ago. She is also a professional speaker, trainer and author (“The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success” and “The Blatant Truth: How to Not Screw Up the Customer Service Game”). Adrian’s byline also appears in many business publications. Adrian specializes in designing and delivering highly customized sales and customer service skills training programs that are practical, results-driven and provide real world solutions for real world situations. Her expertise includes working with the owners and “C” level executives of companies ranging in size from entrepreneurial start-ups to Fortune 500 firms across a vast diversity of industries, helping them to develop successful sales strategies, develop new and results-driven sales processes, implement CRM programs and identify and overcome obstacles to sales growth and increased revenues. 

Nancy Ploeger

Nancy Ploeger is one of IWEC’s co-founders, and until recently, she was the President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC) for 21 years. During her tenure at the MCC, Ms. Ploeger led advocacy efforts for Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) on issues ranging from health insurance, Minority- and Woman-owned certification, doing business with the public sector and international business expansion for small businesses. Among her accolades are being appointed by Major Bloomberg to serve on New York City’s Minority Women’s Business Enterprise’s (MWBE) Advisory Board, a board seat on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the New York District Export Council, serving as Chairperson of the Chamber Alliance of New York State, and currently sitting on the Steering Committee of the New York District Export Council’s World Trade Week. 

Aaron Price

Aaron Price is the founder of Propelify, built to empower innovators. The Propelify Innovation Festival unites 10,000 innovators with talks, exhibitors, drones, virtual reality, investors, music and more. Aaron is founder of the NJ Tech Meetup, NJ's largest technology & entrepreneurial community. 

Vikram Rajan

Vikram Rajan is a Co-Founder of, along with Mark Bullock. Vik started Practice Marketing Advisors and its blog as he realized attorneys, CPAs, and related professionals required specialized marketing help that accounts for clients’ professional code of conduct, ethics, and model rules. Vik is a columnist for AICPA’s largest publication for accountants and frequently helps to present CLE classes through various Bar Associations. Vikram’s book, “365 Personal Brand Marketing Thumb-Rules” published in 2008, is available through any bookstore. 

JJ Ramberg

JJ Ramberg is a founder of Goodshop. She's also the host of the program Your Business on MSNBC and bestselling author of It's Your Business. She and Ken were working on the idea for Goodshop while she was reporting for CNN in Biloxi, MS and New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. "Seeing what was happening all around me made me believe more than ever that I needed to do something that would help not only these people and these cities, but all the causes that need so much support around the country." JJ holds her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and sits on the board of World Connect. 

Gabriella Rebeiro

Gabriella Ribeiro is a serial entrepreneur, adventurist, frequent global wanderer, friend, daughter and most importantly, a mother to an amazing little girl.  She currently runs 3 businesses in addition to steering the ship at The Mogul Mom and thrives on helping dynamic women uplevel their game both personally and professionally. 


Chris Schembra

Chris Schembra is a keynote speaker, Broadway Producer, sought-after dinner host, and entrepreneurial advisor whose passion lies in facilitating profound human connection in a deeply disconnected world. Chris founded the 7:47 Club; an organization which helps companies connect better to themselves, and those around them. By choreographing shared responsibilities and conversation, Chris dismantles barriers, builds teams, and changes lives. Today, Chris and his 7:47 Club are called on to help build community for executive leaders, virtual team members, and potential business partners—creating breakthrough connections. Since July 2015, his 7:47 Club has worked with over 3,300 leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals; advised 70+ companies, and sparked more than 300,000 relationships. 

Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman is a spectacular example of what happens when you merge the power of pure creativity with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a dose of adventure, and make it work to your advantage. An author, entrepreneur and corporate keynote speaker, this “worldwide connector” is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about customer service, social media, PR, marketing, advertising, and ADHD. Peter is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out, (HARO) which in under a year became the de-facto standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources on deadline, offering them more than 200,000 sources around the world looking to be quoted in the media. HARO is currently the largest free source repository in the2 world, sending out over 1,500 queries from worldwide media each week. HARO’s tagline, “Everyone is an Expert at Something”, proves over and over again to be true, as thousands of new members join at each week. In June of 2010, less than two years after Peter started HARO in his apartment, it was acquired by Vocus, Inc. 

Yacov Wrocherinsky is an experienced and knowledgeable technology entrepreneur with a strong passion for people, culture and helping companies grow, Yacov develops a special trusted advisor relationship with customers.

Prior to Orion, Yacov founded Infinity Info Systems in 1987, a leader in ACT!, Sage Saleslogix CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and business intelligence software. Under his leadership, Infinity completed 3,500 successful CRM implementations - including transitions to Salesforce - over 30 global projects and trained 130,000 people before being sold in 2013.

Yacov has received numerous industry awards, including U.S. Small Business Administration Person of the Year for both New York City and New York State. He is an active member of YPO/WPO and Vistage, and has served on the Sage, Saleslogix, eXtremeCRM, and Microsoft Partner advisory boards. For many years, he served as the chair of the YPO/WPO Navy SEAL Leadership Under Fire program.

Yacov has been featured in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Fortune, and CRM Magazine.