Downtown Los Angeles-based HopSkipDrive, a mobility startup that aims to be a kid-friendly Uber service for school-age students, won startup of the year at dot.LA’s second annual startup awards.
Winners were announced at the dot.LA Summit. Judges voted for their picks for the most-deserving companies and individuals in six categories, including rising entrepreneur, top rising startup and entrepreneur of the year.
“It’s such an honor to be included among all the impressive companies nominated for this award,” Katrina Kardassakis, HopSkipDrive’s vice president of business operations, said during her acceptance speech. “We are a youth transportation solution on a mission to create opportunity for all through mobility, and so we’re focused on serving vulnerable populations, including kids in the foster care system, kids experiencing homelessness and kids with special needs or anyone who needs a little extra care to get where they need to go.”
Kardassakis added that HopSkipDrive is currently focused on providing a potential solution to the ongoing shortage of bus drivers across the country, which is leading to backlogs in getting kids to and from school as the transportation industry struggles to retain workers and rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
Finalists for the 2021 Startup of the Year Award included Universal Hydrogen, a company that’s working to make planes that run on clean energy; Long Beach-based Rocket Lab, a reusable rocket manufacturer and small satellite launcher that looks to compete with SpaceX; ChowNow, a commission-free online ordering platform for restaurants and Crexi, a platform for streamlining commercial real estate transactions.
Check out the full list of nominees and winners for dot.LA’s 2021 Startup Awards below.
Pivot of the Year: Potion
This award celebrates a startup’s ability to revamp by changing its business model and strategy in the face of adversity.
- Potion — Winner
- Struct Club
Social Justice Award: Grid110
This award recognizes a company or individual who has made the biggest impact on driving social justice to create a positive, significant and sustainable impact.
- All Voices
- SoLa Impact
- Hacker Fund
- Grid110 — Winner
Rising Entrepreneur: Krista Berlincourt
This entrepreneur is new in the LA startup scene and has emerged as a forward thinking innovator and leader. Despite his/her age, the Entrepreneur of the year has a pioneering spirit and a promising future.
- Clash App, Brandon McNerney
- Lolly, Marc Baghadjian and Sacha Schermerhorn
- Kona, Sid Pandiya
- Kensho Health, Krista Berlincourt — Winner
- Seed, Ara Katz
Rising Startup: Invisible Universe
Sponsored by TriNet
This startup is less than two years of age from incorporation and has shown major development based on market growth, innovation and impact of products and services. This newcomer has the greatest potential to disrupt its market and global tech community.
- Invisible Universe — Winner
- Launch House
Entrepreneur of the Year: Alex Israel
This entrepreneur has a fearless spirit while their partners, teammates and clients are inspired by their vision on a daily basis. They have made notable achievements this past year in regards to funds raised, sales, impact of product and leadership in the tech ecosystem.
- Heather Hasson and Trina Spear, FIGS
- Cathy Zoi, EVgo
- Alex Israel, Metropolis — Winner
- Dakota Semler, Xos Truck
- Jason Wilk, Dave
Startup of the Year: HopSkipDrive
This company has shown the greatest development over the past year based on innovation and impact with goods and services. This startup has the most promising potential for an exit and potential to reach unicorn status.
- HopSkipDrive — Winner
- Universal Hydrogen
- Rocket Lab