Starfish Medical might need to engineer a new mantelpiece for its Tennyson Place offices as the company landed a major award over the weekend when founder Scott Phillips was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Pacific) in the technology category.
The award, considered one of the world’s most prestigious business honours for entrepreneurs, comes on the heels of Phillips being named 2017 Technology Champion at this year’s Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council awards.
“We’ve been fortunate to win a few things, and I say we because this is a team thing, but this award in particular is recognized around the world and we are an international company so this is very helpful,” said Phillips. “I’m really honoured, to be honest. I mean, it was a large category as ‘technology’ is pretty broad … I’m delighted to be chosen.”
Phillips, who has received congratulations from clients and colleagues in 12 countries since the announcement, said the win is a validation for the decisions Starfish has made over the past several years.
“When I frame what we are doing, it’s usually in the context of the medical [industry]. But when you go through the exercise and apply for these awards, it forces you to think in pure business terms,” he said. “It gives me a good feeling to be recognized in more than just the tech expertise that we bring, but also in our business achievements.”
Starfish, which designs and develops medical devices, has had plenty of the achievements.
The 18-year-old, private company has reported 50 per cent growth in each of the past two years. In March, it announced the acquisition of Toronto medical-device designer Kangaroo Group to attract more business from the medical-technology hubs of the eastern U.S.
That expansion helped the company grow to 130 employees, with 25 in its office in Toronto.
“Financially, it’s a good story. We have tripled the company in the last four years and become the only national firm in our industry,” Philips said.
The acquisition of Kangaroo has paid off for Phillips, as the firm landed two new clients in Michigan whom he believes they would have missed without an eastern presence.
“We are making good headway there. … I’m confident we will see some interesting development in places like Boston, New Jersey and New York that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said.
Growth seems inevitable as Starfish plans to add to its sales force.
“Every year we say to ourselves: ‘Let’s put the brakes on a little.’ Then we grow 30 per cent,” Phillips said with a laugh. “Maybe this is the year we stabilize a bit, but in this business, you kind of respond to demand.”
The EY Entrepreneur of the Year program runs in about 145 cities in about 60 countries.
Rob McCurdy, chief executive of Pinnacle Renewable Energy, was named the overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the Pacific region.
As the Pacific region’s winner, McCurdy will compete with other winners from the Prairies, Ontario, Atlantic and Quebec regions for the national honour as Canada’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year. That winner will take on the world.