Join us for the 5th Annual StartOut Awards, recognizing and celebrating excellence and leadership in the LGBT entrepreneurial community!


On Friday, September 23, StartOut will once again honor entrepreneurs and business leaders for their accomplishments and personal commitment to the LGBTQ entrepreneur community.

Festivities will include a cocktail reception, awards ceremony, and dinner. Each award recognizes exceptional entrepreneurs for their vision, leadership, advocacy and achievement in entrepreneurship, and for being a source of true inspiration to the entire LGBT community.

Our 5th annual awards ceremony marks a truly special occasion, as StartOut is now live nationwide through our web-based community of entrepreneurs! We hope you’ll join us in celebrating their amazing achievements.



Comedian Leslie Jordan to host the 5th Annual StartOut Awards!


Leslie Jordan is one of the most consistently recognizable faces in popular entertainment. His journey towards stardom has provided one of the quirkier, impressive varied career trajectories of the past few decades. His arrival in Hollywood back in 1982 (with $1500 sewn into his clothing by his steel magnolia Mother) was the starting gate.

Leslie Jordan is the prestigious Emmy Award winner in 2006 for “Will & Grace”. He has enjoyed rapturous reviews for his original stage plays and supporting presence in one of Hollywood’s most prestigious, message-minded films of the last decade (“The Help”, 2012). He’s been singled out with great notices for his off-Broadway musical theatre debut in 2011 (“The Lucky Guy”). His defining role as “Brother Boy” in the cult film sensation “Sordid Lives” evolved into a well received prequel on the LOGO Channel.

As the celebrated author and star of his own HBO Special (“Pink Carpet”); Leslie Jordan remains consistently sought after as a Guest Star on every imaginable form of episodic, comedic television. He enjoyed a star turn in the third season of FX’s instant classic “American Horror Story” opposite Hollywood heavyweights Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson and Francis Conroy. He recently appeared in the smash reality competition “Celebrity Big Brother UK”.

Leslie’s newest one-man show “Say Cheese! My Life in front of the Camera” humorously examines his life in front of the camera; more specifically, his relationship with the camera of good friend and professional photographer Jim Cox. Cox’s photos of Leslie and friends are featured prominently, as the show’s subject matter.



This year’s honorees:


Chip Conley

Bestselling author, hospitality entrepreneur, disruptive business rebel, and social change agent, Chip Conley is a leader at the forefront of the sharing economy. At age 26, the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality took an inner city motel and turned it into the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in the world. Inspired by psychologists Maslow and Frankl, Chip’s books, PEAK and the New York Times bestseller EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS, share his own theories on transformation and meaning in business and life. Chip was CEO of his innovative company for 24 years. In 2013 he accepted an invitation from the founders of Airbnb to help transform a promising home sharing start-up into the world’s largest hospitality brand. As Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Chip is teaching his award-winning methods – how to create joy and a sense of belonging – to hundreds of thousands of Airbnb hosts in nearly 200 countries. He also founded Fest300 in 2013 to share his passion for travel and the world’s best festivals. Chip has received hospitality’s highest honor, the Pioneer Award, joining industry icons Marriott, Kimpton and Wynn. He is the founder of the Celebrity Pool Toss, which has raised millions for the Tenderloin neighborhood where he opened his first hotel, and San Francisco’s Hotel Hero Awards that shine a light on the unsung heroes serving hotel guests every day. Chip holds a BA and MBA from Stanford University, and an honorary doctorate in psychology from Saybrook University. He serves on the boards of the Burning Man Project, NeueHouse and the Esalen Institute where the Conley Bookstore opened in 2016.


Erika Karp

Erika is the Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Inc. The mission of the firm is to apply the principles of sustainable finance across the capital markets enhancing investment processes through transparency and collaboration. Prior to founding Cornerstone, Karp was Managing Director and Head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank. Erika is an advisor to the UN Global Compact’s LEAD Board Development Program, a founding Board member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Financing and Capital. Karp has been named among the nation’s “Top 50 Women in Wealth” by AdvisorOne, the “GOOD 100” and the “Purpose Economy 100” and one of 50 “Conscious Capitalists” who are Transforming Wall Street.”


Jeff Ragovin

Jeff Ragovin has more than a 15 years of experience building teams and companies in the digital marketing sector. In 2007, he co-founded Buddy Media, a SAAS based marketing platform which was acquired by Salesforce in 2012. Buddy Media evolved from a small start-up into the largest social marketing platform in the world. His efforts resulted in eight out of the top 10 global advertisers employing the Buddy Media marketing suite as their social enterprise marketing software of choice.

Today, Jeff has launched Ragovin Ventures. A strategic investment firm that focuses on funding startups and helping them launch, scale and grow their products. Ragovin helps them transform their organizations from good to great. In 2016 Jeff also launched The Digital Fork. The Digital Fork is a closed door, invite only event for CMO’s to discuss the rapid changing digital landscape with their peers. The Digital Fork combines Jeff’s passion for amazing food and the digital space in one place.

Ragovin graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a B.A. in broadcasting and mass media and currently lives in NY.


Stephanie Lampkin 

Stephanie is the founder & CEO of Blendoor, a recruiting application that hides candidate name and photo to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring. Stephanie’s mission is to effectively demonstrate that investing in diversity yields positive returns socially, financially, and technologically. Stephanie has been honored and featured in numerous publications including MIT Tech Review 35 under 35, Forbes, NPR, Tech Crunch, and Black Enterprise. She has spoken publicly on a myriad of topics from the future of work to unconscious bias.


Here Media

Here Media operates the most established, most recognized, and most talked-about media brands serving the LGBT market. Their award winning content is delivered within a dynamic portfolio of media properties that are rich in history, culture, news, entertainment, fashion, and photography. Together, these properties capture the many facets of the LGBT experience and reach millions of readers and viewers every month.



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