Judges announced 52 Sego Awards finalists across nine categories last week. Each of the finalists are female entrepreneurs who have influenced their market or communities, and 23 of the 52 finalists call Utah County home.
The Sego Awards was founded in 2018 to be Utah’s first award show for female founders and CEO’s. The awards recognize the work of women across the state in areas such as revenue growth, innovation, community and culture, and advocacy.
Two winners will be announced for each of the nine categories during the annual gala at Sundance Mountain Resort on May 8.
Neighborhood Art Center
Tallia Feltis, founder of the Neighborhood Art Center in Provo, was nominated for the community and culture category. The Neighborhood Art Center is an open-concept art studio where residents can take classes and experience art.
Feltis opened the center in 2017 after she saw a need for a more community-centered creative space in Provo. When Feltis and her family moved to Provo from Pittsburgh, she saw that there weren’t a lot of opportunities in the city for people to get involved in art; when her children were going to school full time, she looked into changing that by starting a nonprofit.
“I looked into what I needed to do, and then I just did it,” Feltis said. “I started fast enough that I almost didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and I think that was good. All the momentum was there.”
The organization’s mission is to provide a welcoming space for children to create, explore, learn and try new things as well as develop a space where art can be made more accessible in the community and inspire creativity and learning.
Feltis said she drew a lot of strength from her mother while establishing the center, and her mother continues to inspire her as she works to move the center into a bigger space.
“She just got stuff done and was so creative,” she said. “She was really good at working with what she had while solving problems, and that influenced me a lot because I knew if I worked hard I could do anything.”
Having the chance to be involved in an event that highlights impactful women in various communities throughout Utah speaks volumes to Feltis, she said. From the moment she was nominated, Feltis was able to build relationships with influential women who are doing big things in their communities.
Furthermore, Feltis said just knowing about what other women in her area are accomplishing motivates her to do more because it shows her she is capable of more.
“Being able to follow them and see all of the work that they’ve done has been very influential,” she said. “Making women more visible and sharing their accomplishments and taking it seriously, it’s showing other women it’s possible. Sometimes you need to see other women succeed to give yourself permission to succeed.”
Carrus CEO Misty Frost is one of the handful of finalists in the highest overall revenue category. The Lehi-based business offers online healthcare training and education programs that help professionals further their knowledge and careers.
The company has been in operation for over 25 years; however, Frost stepped into her position as CEO in 2019.
Frost said she was initially drawn to the company because of the incredible potential that exists within the healthcare field, in which numerous studies have indicated over 2 million jobs will be created in the field over the next few years, she said. Additionally, Frost worked in education for almost 15 years and knew there were gaps that needed to be filled in online training.
As a child, Frost said, there weren’t very many women who inspired her to tackle big projects or apply for executive positions; however, she has always been enamored with the story of Amelia Earhart, and that story continues to motivate her even today.
“I grew up imagining how brave she must have been to do those things, and how personally terrified of heights I am, trying to think of what it would be like to strike out on your own, especially as a pilot,” Frost said. “Whenever I sort of get stuck, I think, ‘Well, you’re not flying alone over the Atlantic in a biplane,’ and it helps keep it all in perspective for me.”
Frost said initiatives like the Sego Awards are imperative to shifting the focus onto strong female role models for younger girls, showing them the endless possibilities for their futures.
A few months ago, Frost attended an event for girls 12 to 16 years old to network with female industry professions. She said she was utterly shocked when some of the girls either didn’t know what a CEO was or that women were even allowed to apply.
“We’re still the minority population,” she said. “Our voices are certainly not 50% of the conversation.”
CEO Cheryl Lee Eberting founded AZOVA and is nominated under the innovation in technology category for the 2020 Sego Awards gala.
AZOVA is a digital health platform that created a marketplace program to allow medical, hospital and pharmacy associations to collaborate in a timely and effective manner by viewing patient information and communicating with residents through a secure software.
Eberting was introduced into the industry as a research fellow at the National Institute of Health where she treated the worst cases of eczema in the world. From there, she decided to clinically engineer moisturizers that would help treat eczema from a biological standpoint.
After creating her own company and receiving thousands of inquiries from people online asking her to diagnose and treat their eczema, Eberting realized there was a gap in the healthcare industry that could be solved using technology.
“It’s not just for eczema, not just for dermatology, not just for doctors,” Eberting said. “It’s for therapists and pharmacists and wellness providers, everyone needs to be able to see their patients’ information and most importantly to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other.”
Eberting started developing the technology six years ago and the business has grown to include engineers worldwide with almost 40 employees.
Her biggest inspiration for climbing the hurdles she found placed in her path, Eberting said, was her mom. Growing up, Eberting watched as her mom “barreled through every barrier in her way,” and Eberting took that same philosophy with her when starting AZOVA.
Eberting said when trying to get her business off the ground, she faced true discrimination when trying to secure funding and get access to mentoring. That is why, she said, hosting events like the Sego Awards is imperative to female entrepreneurship and leadership but also innovation as a whole.
“Listen to the little guys because some of them have a pretty good idea,” she said.
SkedaddleX founder Audrey West is a full-time student at Utah Valley University and is nominated alongside a number of other student founders under their own category.
West said she founded SkedaddleX, an experience expedition company that plans trip packages that include professional photographers and pre-set itineraries, after having her own not-so-pleasant experience with a trip-planning company.
“Kind of flippantly, I was like, ‘I can do this so much better,’” West said.
When she started planning her first trip, the money she would have to pay upfront, especially as a student, almost discouraged her from trying, but her husband submitted the payment with the click of a button before she could change her mind and their fate was sealed.
The company works to enable people to experience the world, create communities and get people out of the social media bubble.
Moving forward, West said she is looking forward to seeing her company grow so she can continue to support other small businesses. Even now, West partners with small businesses from around Utah County to create promotional pictures during trips and spread the word.
“I have been motivated to make the extra effort to partner with these small businesses for the overarching goal of supporting small businesses,” she said. “Even though it’s my goal to support entrepreneurs and their small businesses in a much bigger way in the future, I love finding small things that I can do now to still help out entrepreneurs within our community.”
The dinner and awards ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. Jeanette Bennett, founder and editor-in-chief at Bennett Communications, will act as the event’s master of ceremonies. Tickets can be purchased at http://segoawards.com/gala.