Meet the Determined Self-Starters Honored in EY’s 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year


Launching and growing a business often requires extreme commitment, self-sacrifice, a continuous muster of motivation, and endless initiative. “I would leave the house at 6 a.m. and get home around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.,” says Michael Tieu, CEO and founder of National Circuit Assembly, of his company’s early days. “When I wasn’t working, I was networking.”

For entrepreneurs such as Tieu, the hustle is worth it because in times of sink or swim, like those presented during the pandemic, it takes a determined and resilient self-starter to rise above the waters.

The 47 innovators you’ll read about in the following pages have fought for funding, struggled to scale, and turned on a dime, but for each of them, the sacrifice has been worth it.

For a 14th straight year, D CEO is proud to profile all Southwest region finalists in EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program.

Judges this year were Teresa Mackintosh, CEO of Trintech; Alex Danza, founder and CEO of Vonlane; Raj Malik, founder and CEO of Bioworld Merchandising; Dr. Chandra Pemmasani, founder and CEO of UWorld; Vanessa Ogle, founder and chairman of Enseo; Sarah Shadonix, founder and CEO of Scout & Cellar; Scott Everett, founder and CEO of S2 Capital; and Blake Walker, CEO of Arcis Golf.

All regional finalists will be honored on Aug. 4 at a virtual event, where winners will be revealed. Those winners will then compete for national recognition in November. 

Brennan Potts

Sean Berry

Brennan Potts

Founder and CEO, Accelerate Real Asset Management

After working in the energy industry for several years, Brennan Potts saw a dislocation in the oil and gas market. “Small, fractional ownership interests were overlooked, and there was an opportunity to aggregate them into a large, cash-flowing, diversified portfolio of scale,” says Potts, founder and CEO of Accelerate Real Asset Management. His solution? Build a tech-and data-driven process to identify, acquire, and manage assets for the world’s leading institutional investors. Now, the company is getting into the renewable energy space. “We’re expanding that same successful blueprint across real asset classes in forward-thinking investments that power the new economy,” Potts says.

MTX Group

Das Mobel

Nipa Nobel

Das Nobel, Co-Founder and CEO

Nipa Nobel, Co-Founder and CMO

Originally from Bangladesh, the husband-and-wife team of Das and Nipa Nobel founded MTX Group in 2015. The tech consulting firm helps public and private clients solve business problems with strategy, innovation, and outcome metrics. Today, MTX Group has more than 950 employees, and its revenue has grown by 1,900 percent over the past three years. The company also has become a front-of-jersey sponsor of FC Dallas—a big moment for the Nobels, as they’re big soccer fans. The couple is focused on expanding into more global markets and have an especially lofty goal: making their AI offering, mavQ, the No. 1 AI  platform in the world by 2025.


Part of the fintech and digital payment solutions boom, Onbe helps businesses create custom-branded payment options. Led by Juli Spottiswood, the company now issues more than $7 billion in corporate-funded payments annually in nine currencies.

Shine Solar

With fewer than 3 percent of eligible rooftops in the United States opting for solar, Arkansas-based Shine Solar sees ample growth opportunity. “Rooftop solar is still a nascent industry,” says CEO Nick Gorden. The company has grown 50–70 percent a year since its 2016 launch.


Irving-based payment processing company Signapay thrived during the pandemic, as businesses sprinted toward touchless options. It serves retail, restaurant, nonprofit, professional services, and other clients, and Founder and CEO John R. Martillo predicts continued demand.

Astura Medical

Spinal implant and instrument company Astura Medical involves surgeons in the development process. Its leaders, Thomas Purcell and Joel Gambrell, say they’re…

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