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Miami’s inaugural RedHawk50 Gala honors Miami-founded or led companies

Miami’s RedHawk50 Gala celebrated Miami's top 50 companies started by alumni.
Miami’s RedHawk50 Gala celebrated Miami's top 50 companies started by alumni.

John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship in Miami University’s Farmer School of Business hosted its first annual RedHawk50 Gala at the Cincinnati Music Hall on March 15. After being launched in June of 2023, the RedHawk50 program was designed to identify, recognize and celebrate the 50 fastest growing Miami-founded or Miami-led private companies in the world.

The director of the John W. Altman Institute of Entrepreneurship, Tim Holcomb, said, “We announced the program, opened the nominations window, [and] encouraged Miamians to nominate companies for consideration. The response was, in a word, overwhelming.” 

After the top 50 companies were identified, the goal of the gala was to recognize and celebrate each company’s accomplishments between the years of 2020-2022 in order to be named the RedHawk50 Class of 2023.

The awards gala announced the ranking of each company in order of their percent annual growth rate.

For company requirements, there is a minimum of $100,000 to be made within the first calendar year over this three-year period. By the award year, the company must be privately held, for-profit and independent, as well as in business for at least three years. 

Along with revenue criteria, a Miami alum, former student or group of former students must meet one or more of these leadership roles: They must own 50% or more of the company, serve as the company’s chief executive (chairman, CEO or president) and/or found the company and be an active member of the senior management team (i.e., chairman, CEO, president, COO or CFO).

The final criteria to meet is making sure the candidate and the company align with Miami’s Code of Conduct. The company must operate in a manner consistent with this code and maintain the spirit, values and image of Miami.

“A goal of our newest program, RedHawk50, is to recognize the success of Miamians at building hybrid companies that will impact the way we live, the way we work, the way we entertain ourselves, the clothes that you wear, and the food that we eat today and in the future,” Holcomb said, speaking on behalf of the entrepreneurship program.

Holcomb mentioned that this program is about the importance of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development.

“At Miami, we don't simply teach students about entrepreneurship,” Holcomb said. “We teach students to do entrepreneurship.”

In celebration of Miami’s entrepreneurship and business program, Julienne Shields, the President and CEO of United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), represented USASBE and awarded the university with the USASBE Model Entrepreneurship Program award.

President Gregory Crawford accepted the award on behalf of Miami and was also recognized for his previous accomplishments and contribution as an entrepreneur.

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“Dr. Crawford has leveraged his academic role to elevate entrepreneurship education, innovative research, and entrepreneurial start-ups at all universities where he has taught and served: Brown University, University of Notre Dame and Miami,” Holcomb said.

Since beginning his research at Xerox, Crawford has authored more than 400 research and education publications and co-founded two start-up biotech companies himself.

Crawford mentioned an economic study done this past year on 14 public universities in Ohio and how much they contributed to Ohio’s economy. The value of the entrepreneurship and startups that the graduates of each school made added up to $1.7 billion. Out of that $1.7 billion, Miami’s entrepreneurial alumni contributed a total of $1.1 billion.

The time came to announce the RedHawk50 Class of 2023. Ranked No. 5 of the 50 was Steno, a tech-enabled court reporting and litigation service, co-founded by Dan Anderson ‘08. No. 4 was awarded to Mad Rabbit, a personal product retail company, founded by Selom Agbitor ‘19 and Oliver Zak ‘19. The third place award was given to InGoodTaste, a media and communications company, run by co-founder and CEO, Ryan Lindholm ‘00. Aleta Couture, a sustainable apparel and fashion company, was named No. 2, founded by Manav Preenja ‘16.

Finally, the first place award was given to Tex Tickets, an international ticket brokerage designed to provide fans with tickets to live events they love. Co-founders Mike Gau ‘06 and Simon Landon ‘06 initially conceptualized this side hustle in a Miami dorm room nearly 22 years ago, before officially turning it into a business in 2018.

According to a handout at the event, Tex Tickets has grown to become one of the largest ticket brokers in the U.S. – doubling revenue annually and growing to a team of more than 80 around the globe. Their winning compounded annual growth rate is 222.38%. In comparison, according to the Harvard Business Review, most companies grow at a rate of 10-25% a year.

“[We] never could have done it without the education we got at Miami,” Landon said.