Emerging Entrepreneurs Awards Honors New Talent

SUCCESS magazine turns 126 years old this year. As one of the longest-running business magazines in the U.S., it has become synonymous with stories highlighting innovation and honing a business mindset. And the magazine is making that even more official with its new Emerging Entrepreneurs awards, which will shine a light on the next wave of entrepreneurs and recognize the achievements of up-and-comers.

“We wanted to design an award that would recognize the hard work and ambition of those entrepreneurs who are dedicated to the long game,” says Cecilia Meis, the former editor-in-chief of SUCCESS Enterprises. “These are business owners who typically fall under the radar in the awards circuit, but that doesn’t make their contributions to the world any less worthy.”

SUCCESS has a long history of celebrating entrepreneurs. The magazine has profiled inspiring entrepreneurs from an array of backgrounds, whether that’s the Sharks from Shark Tank weighing in on how they spot winning businesses or “gangsta gardener” Ron Finley sharing how he uses gardening to teach the value in caring for your community.

5 lessons we’ve learned from entrepreneurs

Each of these stories from the pages of SUCCESS has redefined the road to success—and helped inspire the creation of these awards. As we celebrate the first-ever Emerging Entrepreneurs awards, here are a few of the entrepreneurial lessons we’ve published over the years.

1. Success can look different than you expected.

Take Jamie Kern Lima, who left behind her dream of daytime TV to create a makeup line for people with skin conditions after her rosacea began affecting her live interviews as a news anchor.

“In our society, we’re taught so often to never quit and never give up. And I think that’s good advice if you know you’re on the path you’re supposed to be on,” Kern Lima told SUCCESS in 2021. “But I also think it’s just as important to know when to let go of a dream as it is to know when to go after one.”

Together with her husband, Kern Lima launched her company, IT Cosmetics, in 2008 out of their apartment living room in Studio City, California. It was acquired by L’Oréal in 2016 for $1.2 billion dollars and ultimately landed her on Forbes’ Richest Self-Made Women list.

2. Success might feel intuitive.

Payal Kadakia, founder of revolutionary fitness platform ClassPass, originally began her career at management consulting firm Bain & Company before she founded her own Indian dance company, Sa Dance Company, as a passion project on the side. But she felt in her gut she wasn’t on the right path.

“I was living two identities,” Kadakia told SUCCESS in 2020. “I had this job that I went to that I wasn’t excited about. Then at night I was this dancer, entrepreneur, creative person. It felt like I was two different people.”

One night, she spent hours after work navigating different websites trying to find a dance class at the right time, and the idea for ClassPass came to her: one membership that could provide access to an array of fitness studios and gyms so people could easily find ways to improve their health through classes that played to their unique interests. Thankfully for the rest of us, Kadakia decided to follow her intuition and took the leap into entrepreneurship.

“Wanting ClassPass to succeed came from a visceral mission I had as opposed to, ‘Oh, my dad wants me to have this job,’ which is a very different reason to show up,” she said. ClassPass is now worth over $1 billion.

3. Success should break the mold.

In 2020, SUCCESS sat down with Mark Cuban, self-made billionaire entrepreneur, investor, Shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and asked him what kind of advice he would give to someone considering starting a business.

Cuban immediately answered, “Don’t try to copy what’s been done. Try to find new ways to do things.”

Cuban suggested that hopeful entrepreneurs ask themselves, “What new ways of doing business do you think we should be doing to change the way things are done? Is there something you see that others can’t? How can you change the game?”

He told SUCCESS that, “in 20 years, he expects there will be dozens of what he calls ‘world-class, game-changing companies’ that were formed in the aftermath of 2020.”

Perhaps some of SUCCESS’ newest Emerging Entrepreneurs are just that.

4. Success can sprout from failure.

Kendra Scott had a passion for fashion and design as a child, and she ultimately followed this deep love to found two companies: The Hat Box, which closed in 1998, and her later venture in jewelry in 2002, which catapulted her career.

Kendra Scott is now a billion-dollar business with more than a hundred retail locations across the U.S. Scott credits much of the brand’s success to her great team and the lessons she learned after her first company closed prematurely.

“Experience is something that you can’t teach,” Scott told SUCCESS in 2016. “That feeling of how are you going to make payroll? How are you going to pay your rent?… Those are things you can never learn in a book. That knot in your stomach that wakes you up in the middle of the night is something that, unless you’ve lived it, you don’t understand how to navigate through… I think having that basis… has made me be so thoughtful and so careful about how we’ve grown and what we’ve done.”

Scott said she is grateful for her failure and the way it gives you a determination that you can get through even your worst fear—because you already have.

5. Success can be planned (to a degree).

Although starting a business is undoubtedly challenging, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, talked to SUCCESS in late 2015 about how she prepared herself to be a successful entrepreneur before she even knew what the business would be.

Under an offense is the best defense sort of strategy, Blakely focused on preparation that went far beyond visualizing success—she took inventory of her strengths and weaknesses and wrote down a detailed end goal. This way, her true north was always top of mind.

“So I said, OK, I want to invent or create a product that I can sell that’s my own and not somebody else’s, and I want it to be something I can sell to millions of people. And I want it to be something that makes people feel good. I wrote that specifically in my journal,” Blakely said. “And I just kept looking for when it was going to show up in my life. I was on high alert. The day I cut the feet out of my pantyhose, I immediately started pursuing it. I didn’t know if that idea was going to ultimately be ‘the one,’ but I was immediately in motion after that happened.”

Celebrating Emerging Entrepreneurs 

The judging panel evaluated entrepreneurs based on a set of criteria and selected 25 honorees to receive the award.

“We were really looking for those up-and-comer business owners who displayed a deep passion for the work they’re doing to grow their companies and make an impact,” judge Billy Goldberg said.

The diverse group of final honorees for the Emerging Entrepreneurs awards span genders, ethnicities and industries ranging from creative and marketing to media and tech.

“These individuals have poured heart and soul into their businesses and have worked tirelessly to leave a tangible impact for generations,” judge Pamela Zapata said. “We were struck by their innovation and determination and are excited for the rest of the world to come to know their stories.”

With the first Emerging Entrepreneurs awards completed, Meis confirms you can expect to see more in years to come.

“The receptivity of our judges and the industry around honoring rising stars has been encouraging,” Meis says. “These smaller or lesser-known businesses are scrappy, innovative and an important part of the future of work, and SUCCESS will continue to shine a light on their achievements.” 

The nomination period for Emerging Entrepreneurs closed Dec. 31, 2022, after this issue went to press. To see the award honorees, visit

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photos by ©Christopher Patey/Jamie Kern Lima, ©ImagineChina Limited/Alamy Stock Photo, ©Jonathan Zizzo and ©Ben Baker/Redux.

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a writer with a passion for storytelling, traveling and whenever possible, mixing the two. The UCLA alum lives in Los Angeles; more specifically westside coffee shops with equally strong wifi and dark roasts. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_onealor her website

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