Got Moxie? A look back at the Moxie Awards' first 5 years

Sam Dewey

“This is f---ing incredible.”

That’s how Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney put it in 2012 after picking up an award for CEO of the Year at the very first Moxie Awards.

“When Mike [Evans] and I started Grubhub back in 2004, this community didn’t exist. The community, though it was nascent when we started, has grown and amplified over the years and it’s been really exciting to watch it grow,” he said at the time.

Fast forward a few years, and the community Maloney was so energized by has evolved into something even more powerful. There are thousands of digital tech companies in Chicago, many of which are backed by local investors who have have seen the city through some record-breaking years of fundraising. Tech organizations like 1871 and Techstars Chicago are stronger than ever, with bootcamps, meetups, coworking spaces and hackathons popping up left and right for techies of all interests, backgrounds, and creeds.

That’s why, as we approach the fifth anniversary of the Moxie Awards, we’re celebrating everything Chicago tech has grown into. Presented by Built In Chicago, the Moxie Awards is a night dedicated to the world-changing innovation that’s being built right here at home. From established tech leaders who laid the foundation for the community’s success to scrappy newcomers who are hungry to prove themselves, we’re tipping our hats to the palpable levels of imagination, talent, potential and grit spreading their roots and planting their seeds in the city.

“This year’s nominees represent everything that’s right with the Chicago tech ecosystem,” said Maria Christopoulos Katris, CEO and co-founder of Built In. “The calibre of innovation coming out of the city rivals that of only the best tech hubs in the world — and we’re still far from the peak.”

Tickets for this year’s Moxie Awards are on sale now. Mark your calendars for June 16, and be sure take note of our brand new venue, Morgan Manufacturing.

Be sure to submit your ballots for this year’s finalists, and thanks — as always — to our sponsors who make the Moxie Awards possible.

In the meantime, enjoy our look back at some of the highlights from year’s past. Here’s to five more, Chicago.


  • Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee pick up awards for best Startup Founder or co-founder, and Code Academy (before it became The Starter League) tacks on another two Moxies: one each for Best Educational or Recruitment Startup and Best Bootstrapped Startup.

  • Desiree Vargas Wrigley takes home two awards (Tech Woman of the Year and Best Consumer Web Startup). GiveForward won an additional award in 2013.

  • Grubhub wins its first two Moxies, taking home CEO of the Year and Breakthrough Digital company of the year. The company would go on to receive three more, including two in 2015 for Beth Birnbaum (Woman in Tech) and Brian Lanier (CTO of the Year).

  • Dylan Richard wins the award for Best Beard.

See all of the 2012 winners here.


  • Harper Reed takes home CTO of the Year for his work on the Obama for America campaign.

  • SpotHero takes home Best Consumer Web Startup, which it would go on to win again in 2014. SpotHero also won Startup of the Year in 2015.

  • Belly brings its Moxie total to three, and Branchfire takes home two Moxie Awards for Mobile App of the Year and Best Bootstrapped Startup.  

See all of the 2013 winners here.


  • Sprout Social ups its total Moxie count to four. The social media management startup had previously won in 2013 for Best Software Company and in 2012 for Best Mobile App.

  • After winning the award for Best Software Company, Signal takes the lead in total Moxie Awards won by an individual company, with six in total. Formerly known as BrightTag, the company and its leaders have won awards across the board, including CEO and CTO of the Year as well as Best New Startup.

  • Civis Analytics wins Best New Startup, and Jimmy Odom, Daniela Bolzmann and Kirk Lashley receive awards for Best Startup Co-Founders for WeDeliver.

See all of the 2014 winners here.


  • Rise Interactive takes home a Moxie Award for Digital Agency of the Year — their third consecutive win in that category.

  • Jellyvision wins big after receiving trophies for Best Software Company, Best Company Culture, and CEO of the Year for Amanda Lannert. Lannert also took home the award in 2014.

  • Several of the fastest-growing tech companies in Chicago’s history (including Avant and Uptake) take home their first Moxie awards, for Breakthrough Digital Company of the Year and Best New Startup, respectively. Both companies are considered “tech unicorns,” and both are younger than the Moxies themselves.

See all of the 2015 winners here.

Tickets for the 2016 Moxie Awards are now on sale. Buy them here, and we'll see you on June 16 at Morgan Manufacturing!

Post a comment

or to post comments

Oh no!

You're fresh out of job post slots.

Upgrade your planmanage current jobs

Create an account

Let startups find you

Create a profile and upload your resume today.

Explore the local startup scene, find your
dream job and hang with fellow techies.

No sales pitches, just awesome original content.

Oh no!

You're fresh out of job post slots.