Dan Kasprzyk, founder of startups Symple Surgical and Poba Medical, received the Carolyn Shoemaker Award at the first Moonshot Entrepreneur Awards, presented by Moonshot at NACET, the region’s entrepreneurial development program.
The Shoemaker Award was created to honor entrepreneurs who have graduated from the Moonshot program at NACET and gone on to establish businesses in the greater Flagstaff area that hire local employees. The recipient is chosen by a panel made up of members of the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance.
The award is named for Carolyn Shoemaker, a pioneering astronomer who at one point held the record for the most comet discoveries (32) in addition to more than 800 asteroids and almost 400 minor planets. With her husband, Gene, she established the USGS Center for Astrogeology in Flagstaff.
“Carolyn is the perfect example of entrepreneurship and the process of reinvention,” said Moonshot at NACET President and CEO Scott Hathcock. “She is a trailblazer, a true moonshot thinker in astronomy – a field she didn’t begin working in until she was 51 years old. She perfectly illustrates that with passion and a newly discovered purpose, you can achieve great things.”
Katoohla and Mother Road Brewing Company were also honored with honorary Shoemaker awards as past graduates of the program.
This year, in addition to cultivating entrepreneurs in Flagstaff, Moonshot at NACET held a “Pioneer Pitch Tour” throughout the state, a series of events to identify promising startups in Navajo and Apache counties, Flagstaff, Page, Chandler and the Verde Valley. The tour was sponsored by APS, which selected Drinking Horn Meadery, a Flagstaff brewery, as the overall winning business from the tour.
Russ Yelton, former head of NACET, received the Mission Control award for his past service to building the entrepreneurial program. This award is given to a past or present volunteer or employee of Moonshot at NACET.
The ceremony kicked off a weekend of events celebrating entrepreneurship, including a premiere showing of the documentary series TrueFuture.tv at the Orpheum Theater. The program highlights people in the medical device industry and the communities that nurture their ideas and startups. The first episode featured Flagstaff and local entrepreneurs and innovators, including Kasprzyk.
In addition to APS, sponsors of the Moonshot Awards ceremony included Amazon Web Services, the City of Flagstaff, Foothills Bank, Real AZ, AWD Law, WL Gore, POBA Medical, Kinney Construction, Lowell Observatory, Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization and Little America Hotel, where the event was held.
Sponsors for the TrueFuture Flagstaff screening included Machine Solutions, POBA Medical, Symple Surgical, Wanderlust Brewery, the city of Flagstaff and the Orpheum Theater.
By Cindy May, FBN