MountainWest Capital Network (MWCN) is recognizing Stephen Neeleman, MD, founder and vice chair of HealthEquity, Inc. (NASDAQ: HQY), as its 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, during a ceremony on Tuesday, March 3. Each year, MWCN recognizes a Utah entrepreneur who demonstrates outstanding achievement by building an industry-leading company, inspires others to pursue their own entrepreneurial vision and gives back to the community.

As a member of an entrepreneurial family, Neeleman had great examples of the importance of valued customer service, from his early days working at his grandfather’s grocery store; and how this translated into driving innovation and results. From the beginning of his career as a surgeon, he understood the causes of fractured relationship between patients and their physicians and began building solutions to help more people obtain quality health benefits.

Neeleman’s vision led him to found HealthEquity, an integrated consumer-directed benefits organization in 2002. His work educating congressional leaders prior to the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which passed in 2003, helped establish legislation supporting health savings accounts (HSAs). While building and running an industry-defining company, he still practiced medicine for Intermountain Healthcare as a board-certified general and trauma surgeon. 

“Dr. Steve Neeleman has that entrepreneurial spirit MWCN strives to honor and celebrate. He has a vision that translates into something much bigger than himself and impacts change and improves the lives of so many,” MWCN Executive Director Cheri Waldron said. “With HealthEquity, his influence is far-reaching, not only with those team members who work here in Utah and across the country, but with the millions of Americans who rely and benefit from the products and services the company provides.”

In August 2014, Neeleman, author of the annual, “The Complete HSA Guidebook—How to Make Health Savings Accounts Work for You,” participated with HealthEquity’s public offering on the NASDAQ. He also participated in the company’s August 2019 acquisition of WageWorks, an administrator of HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, Commuter and other consumer-directed benefits.

“I realize the typical path to entrepreneurship may not include a stop through medical school, but my story just proves anyone can make a difference by recognizing a challenge and continually working to improve it,” Neeleman said. “I have partnered with remarkable people through every phase of my career and am grateful to our team members at HealthEquity who demonstrate “Purple” service every day, connecting health and wealth for our members across the country.”

Neeleman completed his undergraduate degree at Utah State University. During this time, he also served as the general airport manager for Morris Air and developed an innovative model of technology, efficiency and service, helping the company succeed in a struggling sector. Following Utah State University, Neeleman attended medical school at the University of Utah and from there, completed surgical training at the University of Arizona, where he later became an assistant professor of surgery.

Neeleman sits on the board of Utah’s Health Data Committee and the Board of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, as appointed by Governor Gary Herbert.

Since its founding in 1983, MWCN has been committed to recognizing entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneur of the Year is a key feature of MWCN’s outreach to foster business relationships and recognize outstanding members of Utah’s business community.

Neeleman joins other entrepreneurial giants and pioneers who have also been named Entrepreneur of the Year since 1983. Past honorees include Fred Lampropoulos, Ryan Smith, Jeremy Andrus, Aaron Skonnard, Peter and Nicole Mouskondis, Tom Dickson, Todd Pedersen, Josh James, Peter Metcalf, Larry H. and Karen Gail Miller, Alan E. Hall, Amy Rees Anderson, Kirk Benson, Dr. Ted Stanley, Ken Wooley, Dr. Hunter Jackson, David Evans, Ray Noorda, Dale Ballard, Dr. Dinesh Patel, Gary Stevenson, Scott Watterson, David Bailey, Hyrum Smith, Jerry Atkin, Sid Green, Steve Aldous, Spencer Kirk and Dave Spafford.