Hundreds of millions of dollars have been channeled to the 2023 Smart Business Dealmakers Dealmaker of the Year Awards honorees. But raising funds is not all this year's class of entrepreneurs have done. They’ve also organically expanded their businesses, acquired companies, sold their stakes to accelerate their growth or pass their legacy on to the next generation.

Next Thursday, June 1, we'll celebrate their accomplishments at the Cleveland Smart Business Dealmakers Conference, which will be held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. We're highlighting this amazing group of honorees, and the deals they’ve engaged in, as they represent a wide swath of this region’s dealmakers and transactions, together providing a strong picture of the Northeast Ohio business community. Here's who's taking home the honors this year:

Dr. Afif Ghannoum is CEO of BIOHM Health LLC, a developer of probiotic products and tests for the health and wellness sectors. Dr. Ghannoum is a leading microbiome researcher and recognized for naming the mycobiome. He is one of the top 0.5 percent of cited microbiologists – and top 2 percent of all scientists across all disciplines – with more than 500 papers and work that has been cited over 30,000 times.

His company $7.5 million in equity financing in January, which will enable BIOHM's continued leadership as a data-driven, cutting-edge microbiome innovation partner for consumers, medical practitioners, and food, beverage and dietary supplement companies.

Faris Ghawi is co-founder and CEO of Vytalize Health, a risk-bearing provider enablement platform addressing the health care industry's biggest challenges with its cutting-edge value-based care delivery system. Along with Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer Amer Alnajar, and Chief Marketing Officer Matt Buder Shapiro, the company closed a $100M Series C less than a year after completing their $50M Series B, further accelerating the company’s mission to accelerate the transition to value-based care for patients by taking care of the doctors who take care of us.

Mark Woodka is CEO of OnShift, a developer of cloud-based human capital management software intended to solve workforce challenges for post-acute and long-term care facilities. Working with CFO Mike Rich, the company raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity from ShiftKey on June 21, 2022.

Gulam Khan is CEO of Centerline Biomedical. The private medical technology company closed a $33 million Series B equity financing that's expected to propel the company into new surgical applications, accelerate its commercial sales and add to its growing clinical evidence repository.

Andrew Hurst is CEO of Delivered, Inc., a provider of a technology-based, nationwide, end-to-end parcel delivery service designed to enable flexible delivery capacity to meet demand. The company recently raised a new venture funding round after having raised seed funding on March 1, 2022.

Kevin Connor is CEO of Mason Structural Steel, LLC, a seller of residential and commercial building products. After acquiring the company in June 2022, the company has experienced record EBITDA months and has plans to grow organically and through acquisition.

Cleveland Kitchen Co-Founders Drew Anderson, Luke Visnic and Mac Anderson recently received $3 million of debt financing and raised a $19 million Series A, putting the producer and culinary foods platform's pre-money valuation at $40 million.

Stephen McHale, CEO of UnifyWork, a developer of an equitable hiring technology platform to transform the experience for employers and job seekers, raised $4.5M in preferred equity and has a novel approach to talent attraction. 

Fred DiSanto, Chairman and CEO of Ancora, a multi-vertical firm specializing in private wealth, asset management, retirement plans and insurance solutions, recently acquired local P&C and health insurance agency Alpha Insurance Group. In 2021, Ancora completed a sale of its business to Focus Financial Partners, LLC, brokering a deal that allows Ancora to continue to maintain an independent brand and be employee-managed while gaining access to resources that can fuel future growth.

Sacha Polakoff, CEO and President of North American Kitchen Solutions, a designer, manufacturer and supplier of commercial ventilation systems and custom fabrication to serve the restaurant industry, was acquired by Valesco Industries and Centerfield Capital Partners through an LBO in November of 2022 for an undisclosed amount.

Mitch Kroll, Co-Founder and CEO of Findaway, a global leader in audiobook technology and distribution, was acquired by Spotify in June 2022 for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition accelerates Spotify's presence in the audiobook space and will help enable faster innovation and bring audiobooks to Spotify's hundreds of millions of existing listeners.

Technical Assurance, Inc., led by Ed Taylor, Jim Solether, and Kurtis Taylor recently decided to maintain his company’s legacy by selling to an ESOP. The developer of sustainable investment plans with clients that proactively manages the life cycle of assets, explored several options as an exit, including strategic and private equity, but ultimately decided that he wanted to take care of the employees that took care of him for so many years.

Matthew Bahnij, Managing Partner of Praetorian Holdings Group, a private equity firm focused on investments in the energy and industrial sectors, began with no experience and no money to decommission wind turbines. Four years later, he has decommissioned 10,000 wind turbine parts, making millions of dollars in profit, which helped with the purchase of a strategic company.