Tough Mudder Founder and CEO Will Dean named National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Emerging category award winner

Dean honored for his global obstacle course phenomenon that creates "Unconventional Life-Changing Experiences"

Nov 17, 2013, 03:00 ET from Ernst & Young

NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Will Dean, Founder and CEO of Tough Mudder, has been named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Emerging Award winner. The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.

(Logo: )

Dean was recognized for his vision to create an innovative and spirited obstacle course that is now the premier adventure challenge series designed to test the participants' overall strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation's premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in 10 additional categories.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges and from more than 250 regional award recipients.

"We are excited to honor Will Dean with this esteemed award and recognize him for his vision to create a successful and globally recognized company that inspires a sense of teamwork and accomplishment for those involved," said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year.  

In addition to this recognition, Dean was named to Crain's 40 Under 40 class of 2012 and received the Wounded Warrior Project's Talkhouse Award this year for his service efforts.

Creating a culture of adventure

Dean disliked the solitude of competing in marathons and triathlons, and he felt too much emphasis was being placed on the finishing time. After all, an amateur marathon runner's first goal is, simply, to finish.

"I believed there were others who felt the way I did, that they wanted to do an activity with friends and not take themselves too seriously, get a little nutty and not care about what time they do it in and then have a few beers afterwards," said Dean.

The key element of Tough Mudder is that it's not just an obstacle course or an event — it is a way of thinking. By running a Tough Mudder challenge, participants are encouraged to work together to overcome 12-foot walls and other obstacles to discover a sense of camaraderie and accomplishment.

"I think one of the hardest things when you're first starting any business is this belief that people will actually buy your product," said Dean. "Now, people are actually clamoring to go to our events. We fill up hotel rooms and restaurants and will generate $2-3 million for a local economy over one weekend."

Today, as CEO, Dean oversees the company's daily operations and more than 150 employees from its headquarters in Brooklyn. The company, which has grown more than 3,250% since its creation in 2009, puts together 53 obstacle courses across the world in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany with up to 20,000 people participating together during a single event. In May 2013, Tough Mudder announced that it had reached 1 million total registrations since it started.

Inspiration from experience on the front lines

Much of Dean's inspiration for Tough Mudder came from a combination of his previous position as a counterterrorism agent for the British government as well as his experience in marathons and triathlons on three different continents. All of the obstacle courses are designed by the British Special Forces and the organization has raised over $6 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.

"The fact that we get so many injured veterans to our events and the sense of pride that they have doing our events is something that I think you can't duplicate," said Dean. "The sense that you built a company that gives people that is just an amazing feeling."

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Emerging category finalists

In addition to Dean, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Emerging finalists in the US were: Kevin Plumb, Chief Technology Officer, and Jeff Smith, CEO, Ingram Medical, Inc., based in Sandy, Utah; Naomi Whittel, Founder and CEO, Reserveage Organics, based in Gainesville, Fla.; and Paul Capriolo, CEO, Social Growth Technologies, Inc., based in Columbia, Md.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner

Hamid Moghadam of Prologis was named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner.

Video and photos

To view photos of all of the Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, please visit  


Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 150 cities in over 60 countries.

About EY's Strategic Growth Markets Network

EY's worldwide Strategic Growth Markets Network is dedicated to serving the changing needs of high-growth companies. For more than 30 years, we've helped many of the world's most dynamic and ambitious companies grow into market leaders. Whether working with international mid-cap companies or early-stage venture-backed businesses, our professionals draw upon their extensive experience, insight and global resources to help your business succeed. For more information, please visit us at or follow news on Twitter @EY_Growth.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, an EY member firm serving clients in the US.

SOURCE Ernst & Young