What does it take to be among the lucky 13 percent?

87% of startups fail within their first four years. Learn how the 2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® US winners defied those odds.

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How did the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2015 winners scale fast, mitigate risk and preserve their innovative cultures?

For our new study, Surmounting 21st century business challenges: how leading entrepreneurs are thriving, EY worked with the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to uncover the best practices that have fueled the growth of 266 Entrepreneur Of The Year US winners.

These winners provide a timely snapshot of the key characteristics of the nation’s fastest-growing companies. Together, their businesses represent $169 billion in revenue and employ more than 406,000 people.

Collaboration and digital sophistication
At the heart of our research, we found two main pillars that these entrepreneurs incorporate into their businesses:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Digital sophistication

What makes an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winner?


Driven innovation
Never complacent, these 266 entrepreneurs’ collaborative approach in business drives everything from their digital sophistication and strategic alliances to risk management and innovative cultures.

Key takeaways from Surmounting 21st century business challenges: how leading entrepreneurs are thriving

  • Digital transformation
    Entrepreneur Of The Year US winners and their companies are major disruptors of today’s competitive global market. They share an increased digital sophistication by embedding digital technologies (such as social, mobile, analytics and the cloud) at the core of their business strategy and operations, rather than as an additive approach.
  • Partner then produce
    Innovation doesn’t stop with their strategy nor the products or services they bring to market. Open platforms and the quest for globalization have sparked innovative partnerships with suppliers, employees and even competitors. In seeking strategic partnerships then co-developing the product, these entrepreneurs have been able to expand into new markets and evolve away from linear value chains.
  • Savvy risk managers
    Controls essential to risk management can dampen innovation, but the entrepreneurs in this study were able to eliminate much of the conflict by balancing creativity with data and industry knowledge.
  • Preserving entrepreneurial culture
    The most successful entrepreneurial organizations avoid the pitfalls of growth by creating nimble cross-functional teams, fostering cultures that drive employee engagement and giving them the freedom to fail.

Read more about what’s fueling this impressive growth and innovation in Surmounting 21st century business challenges: how leading entrepreneurs are thriving

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