Multiple Minnesota Tech Leaders Named 2018 EY ‘Heartland’ Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalists

Eighteen individuals from the state of Minnesota were named EY finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 Award in the Heartland “Who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.”

Of those chosen finalists, five are Minnesota tech industry leaders:

Angelina Lawton is the founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based sports marketing agency Sportsdigita, creators of a sales enablement software called Digideck that serves the sports industry.

Founded in 2010, with ~30 employees today, Sportsdigita raised its first large outside round of investment earlier this year and boasts a roster of blue-chip clients more than 300 teams deep.

Sportsdigita has recently expanded beyond the sporting vertical to include enterprise customers such as Salesforce and Jostens.


Joel Theisen is the founder and CEO of technology-enabled home healthcare service Lifesprk, based in Edina.

Theisen is a repeat finalist for his success in leading the ‘sparked life’ movement which aims to reduce hospitalization rates and long-term costs for seniors. Lifesprk has an estimated 500 employees and serves more than 2,000 seniors each year, achieving double-digit growth during 9 of 12 years with 2016 revenue clocking in around $18m.


Tech trio Chris Staley, Jeremy Langevin, and Sabin Ephrem are the owner-operators behind Saint Louis Park-based agency Horizontal Integration (HI). Launched from Ephrem’s kitchen in 2003 with client one Microsoft, HI hit $1 million in sales by 2006.

Today, the company blends marketing technology services with staff augmentation to the likes of Target, Medtronic, Best Buy, Xcel Energy, Capital One and others.

Targeting $100m+ revenue this year, HI has expanded geographically with offices in Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado.

Now in its 32nd year, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities and more than 60 countries throughout the world. Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National competition. Award winners will be announced at a black-tie gala on June 14 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 17, 2018. The awards are the culminating event of the Strategic Growth Forum, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.