16 Award Opportunities for Groundbreaking Companies in 2023

Pssst, want to see award opportunities for your startup in 2024? Check out this blog post: 15 Awards to Make Your Startup Stand Out in 2024

If you’ve ever dreamt about seeing your startup named as a "Best Place to Work" or a "Most Innovative Company," why not make 2023 your year? In 2022, Propllr helped startups take home 21 awards, and if you're reading this, you probably have a lot in common with the companies we helped.

So how do you make the leap from dreaming of winning to bringing home awards? It starts with knowing what's out there.

To that end, I compiled a list of awards that can help your startup gain exposure, credibility, and brand recognition.

16 Startup Awards for 2023

Fast Company “Best Workplaces for Innovators”

Recognizes companies that empower employees to improve processes, create new products, or invent new ways of doing business. Unlike many other “best workplaces” awards, this one is entirely based on narrative, which means you’ll need a great writer to make sure you nail your startup’s story.

Fast Company “World-Changing Ideas”

Honors products, concepts, companies, policies, and designs from organizations big and small that are pursuing innovation for the good of society and the planet. In Fast Co. fashion, this one is also entirely narrative-based, so you’ll need to tell a good story.

Fast Company “Next Big Things in Tech”

Highlights new technology breakthroughs, including products, services, features, research, and other technological efforts, that will have a positive impact for consumers, businesses, or society at large in the next five years. And you guessed it – you have to tell a great story.

Fast Company “Most Innovative Companies”

Recognizes organizations that are transforming industries and shaping society, while having a positive impact on their business, their industry, and the broader culture. And yup, you’ll need a strong writer for this one.

Fast Company “Innovation by Design”

Honors the designers and businesses solving crucial problems. Entries are judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact, and business impact. And again, writing matters.

Fast Company “Brands That Matter”

Showcases brands that are more than the products they sell or the services they provide, that have achieved relevance through cultural impact and social engagement, and whose branding authentically communicates their missions and ideals. This award was introduced in 2022.

Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year”

This highly competitive award recognizes the most ambitious leaders who are building and sustaining successful, dynamic businesses around the world. It involves an initial, narrative-based nomination; selected candidates then go through a series of interviews. Finalists are selected in each region, and winners are then pulled from the regional finalists.

  • Deadline: Typically due in March
  • Cost: $0
  • FAQs
  • Propllr client Beam Benefits and Saggezza were regional finalists in past years

Inc. “Best Workplaces”

Awards the company cultures that foster employee growth and advancement at all levels. This nomination requires a narrative-based nomination about your company culture, along with a third-party-administered employee survey.

Inc. 5000

Highlights the nation’s fastest-growing companies based on revenue growth from the prior three years. Inc. also has several regional fastest-growing companies awards to consider.

  • Deadline: Typically due in April
  • Cost: $195 – $245
  • FAQs
  • Propllr clients Total Expert, Insureon, and others have won in past years

Inc. “Best in Business”

Celebrates companies of all sizes, in all industries that have made an extraordinary impact in their fields and on society. Storytelling chops are required.

Inc. “Power Partner” Awards

Honors the companies that other companies rely on to be successful, including specialists who provide secure ecommerce infrastructure, HROs that understand compliance for a distributed workforce, and cloud and SaaS pros who can facilitate CRM, handle marketing automation, back up data, and keep global teams communicating. This award requires your customers to fill out a survey administered by a third party.

Inc. “Female Founders 100”

Honors inspiring, creative, tenacious, and trailblazing female role models in entrepreneurship. This nomination has a tight word count, so high-quality writing is crucial.

The Stevie Awards

Started in 2002, this award honors companies and individuals who have made significant impact in their respective industries across a variety of categories. The Stevie Awards comprises several awards programs throughout the year, including American Business Awards, International Business Awards, and Women in Business.

Deloitte “Technology Fast 500”

Now in its 28th year, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 honors the most innovative, fastest-growing public and private companies from all over North America, based on revenue percentage growth. Nominees are required to submit revenue verification to Deloitte.

Digiday Technology Awards

These award recognize the technology modernizing media, marketing, and commerce. This awards program requires that nominations are written from a case study perspective, so you’ll need to have customer stories handy.

Employee Benefits News “Excellence in Benefits”

Highlights HR pros, advisers, and tech leaders who have gone above and beyond and are innovating the technology space. This awards program values a good story.

Still Early Stage? Build Momentum with Local Awards

As a founder, you might be thinking that your startup is relatively new and doesn’t have enough of a track record to merit awards like Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. 

If that’s the case, local awards may be a better fit this year. Awards through your local business journal are generally free or low cost, and can boost recruiting efforts. Plus, because they’re focused on a specific region, the applicant pool is smaller, which increases your odds of winning.

Even better: with a solid strategy, you can leverage buzz from local awards to secure national recognition down the road.

You may also want to check out trade publications in your space, as many host awards programs throughout the year. Wins here can also help…

  • Get your startup on the radar of trade publication reporters and editors.
  • Generate awareness among potential employees, partners, investors, and more.
  • Build team morale.

Not sure whether your startup is award-ready? Get in touch. We’d love to help you figure out whether and how to work award applications into your 2023 PR strategy.