Meet Lakeland’s titans of industry: The winners of the 5th Annual Lakeland Entrepreneur Awards

The annual award ceremony hosted by Catapult celebrates four individuals or businesses in the Lakeland community that have made an impact — keep reading to see who won at the Lakeland Entrepreneur Awards.

Four people stand next to each other on a stage behind a podium and smile.

Nate and Mike of Mike & Mike’s Desserts accept their award.

Catapult Lakeland hosted its 5th Annual Lakeland Entrepreneur Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. With a keynote address from Jeff Hoffman — an award-winning global entrepreneur and CEO — the co-working space known for launching Lakeland’s startups honored local entrepreneurial movers and shakers in four categories.

Entrepreneur Champion — Abbas “AJ” Jaffer, Lakeland Economic Development Council

This award goes to a person or company from the Lakeland community who has intentionally taken the time to invest in the development of entrepreneurs. They have provided mentorship, support, and guidance to entrepreneurs navigating a business start-up.

Other nominees: Diana Cortez, DOU Bakehouse + Ian Gutoskie, Hem Healer

People’s Choice — Jaci + Mason Moore, Moore Juice

The People’s Choice Award winner is a Lakeland entrepreneur nominated by their community. Catapult conducted an open call, and Lakeland voted from a pool of finalists to select the 2024 winner.

Other nominees: Cindy Skop, Kitty Cat Lounge + Brittany Bandi and Jared Craig, Sow Exotic

Catapulter of the Year — Gabi and Gio Favilli-Vigoreaux, Bandidas Bake Shop + Fred Koehler, Ready Chapter 1

Winning in a tie, these Catapult members are in their first few years of operating but have already experienced significant success. These entrepreneurs have proven to be visionaries and strategic leaders in how they have started and begun to scale their businesses. They have demonstrated humility and willingness to learn that is inspiring to those around them.

Other nominees: Honor Bradono, NEXYAN Technologies

David Lyons Entrepreneur of the Year — Nate Kendrick and Mike Mitchell, Mike & Mike’s Desserts

This award goes to a previous or present Catapult Member who successfully manages a business and exhibits strong entrepreneurialism, creativity, innovation, passion, perseverance, and risk-taking. This awardee is a trailblazer in their field and is committed to pouring back into the Lakeland community.

Other nominees: Zach Eikenberry, Hook Security + Rima Schillinger, Vegetation Café & Kitchen

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