Tom Bedecarre, Founder and Chairman of AKQA, named National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Media, Entertainment and Communications Award winner

Bedecarre honored for being a pioneer in the digital advertising space and founder of the world's largest independent digital advertising agency

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

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Tom Bedecarre, Founder and Chairman of AKQA, has been named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Media, Entertainment and Communications 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.

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Bedecarre was recognized for bringing the skills of both an ad agency and technology web development together to create something new almost 13 years ago and being a pioneer in a now thriving industry. 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 pleased to honor Tom Bedecarre with this esteemed award and bring recognition to his early vision that media and communications would shift to digital driving content the way it does today," said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year. "It's this ability to see around corners and continue to innovate that truly distinguishes successful entrepreneurs from the crowd."

Early signs of an entrepreneur

Early signs of entrepreneurial character were evident when Bedecarre began one of his first jobs, delivering newspapers.

During his first week, the paper announced its annual customer service awards to be given to the best carriers. Although new to the job, he went to each customer on his route, introduced himself and told each of them he wanted to become the best carrier and would appreciate it if they would vote for him.

Bedecarre won the competition, and to this day feels it was because he made a personal connection with his customers and delivered a quality promise.

Bedecarre went to Stanford intending to be a liberal arts major, perhaps going on to attend law school or enter government or politics. He interned with Leon Panetta, who was a freshman congressman at the time and realized, in the time he spent in Washington, DC, he wanted to be doing things, not just talking about or arguing issues.

His time and course load at Stanford spurred his interest in computers, technology and innovation, interests complemented by the love of communication he developed at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He soon developed a passion for advertising during his early days at Ogilvy & Mather in New York.

After the dot-com bubble burst

The three-piece entrepreneurial puzzle now intact, Bedecarre founded AKQA in 2000 in the middle of the dot-com bubble by helping to bring together four companies. He and his partners had a vision of how devices would be connected, how media and communications would be shifting to digital and how the skills of an ad agency and a technology web development shop combined would create something new.

Then the dot-com bubble burst.

It was in this crisis that Bedecarre used all those skills he had learned through the years. In 2001, AKQA let go about 60% of the people it had just brought together. He closed offices. Partners with whom Bedecarre had worked for more than a decade were asked to leave, and the remaining management members loaned money back to the company to pay the employees who were retained and keep cash flow positive.

Through these tough times, Bedecarre remained focused on digital advertising, considered by many to be a risky strategy. Bedecarre credits reaching out to all of their key clients personally, almost all of which they still have today, with helping AKQA stay afloat.

A vision renewed

AKQA weathered the storm and is now enjoying great financial strength. With its ability to provide both advertising and technology expertise, clients are offered website development, e-commerce, social media, mobile app development, search engine marketing, data analytics and digital product design services. Further proof of AKQA's success is its recent acquisition by WPP. AKQA continues to operate as an independent brand within WPP.

Bedecarre credits his team's technical acumen for the credibility AKQA has earned from the technology, IT, CIO and CTO organizations within their clients' operations. And, his team's creativity is an important factor in the relationships formed with marketing teams.

He is also unwavering in his belief in innovation and technology and believes in being shamelessly optimistic and positive about customers and the future in order to thrive in the advertising marketing space. Today, Bedecarre says he is excited to see the vision put down on paper 13 years ago become reality, but he continues to look forward.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Media, Entertainment and Communications finalists
In addition to Bedecarre, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Media, Entertainment and Communications finalists in the US were: David Morken, CEO and Co-founder, Bandwidth, based in Raleigh, N.C.; Donald S. Freeman, Jr., Chairman, Joseph V. Popolo, Jr., CEO, and Carrie Freeman Parsons, Vice Chair, Freeman, based in Dallas, Texas; and Daniel Caruso, President and CEO, Zayo Group, based in Boulder, Colo.

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.

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SOURCE Ernst & Young