PowerUP Winners. Photo by Gregg Richards
Offering Classes, Rehearsal Space, Equipment, and Community to Dancers
In Total $40,000 Awarded to Brooklyn Entrepreneurs Including Maua Organics and People’s Heritage Tours.
Brooklyn Public Library’s 19th annual PowerUP! business plan competition awarded $40,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs at a live pitch competition and awards ceremony last night hosted by Joe Connolly, business anchor for WCBS NewsRadio 880. Dime Community Bank presented the $20,000 grand prize to Busola George for SoL-I Movement Center, a studio offering classes, rehearsal space and creative collaboration for dancers.
A judging panel of business owners, nonprofit leaders and academics selected SoL-I Movement Center from a field of over 300 entries, most of whom had no previous business experience.
“For nearly two decades, the PowerUP! competition has been the launching pad for some of Brooklyn’s most beloved and successful businesses, and tonight we are thrilled to witness a new generation of entrepreneurs begin their journey,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to Dime Community Bank for their generous support of PowerUP! all year long.”
Second place and a prize of $10,000 was awarded to Sally Ngoje, the founder of Maua Organics, plant-powered products for women with curly hair including The Hair Bomb, a product designed to replace hot-oil treatments, pre-shampoos, conditioners and detanglers.
Third place and a prize of $5000 was awarded to Daniel Katz for People’s Heritage Tours, a walking history tour company telling the forgotten history of ordinary people who, against terrific odds, made lasting changes which impact New Yorkers’ lives even today.
“For over 100 years Dime has been a champion of local businesses, and this year, Dime is thrilled once again to be the lead sponsor of PowerUP! Congratulations to all the entrants and winners. Aspiring entrepreneurs are the life blood of main street, and we look forward to seeing you shine and grow. Remember, you are the foundation of this community, and we support you all,” said Kevin O’Connor, CEO Dime Community Bank.
In addition, five participants were recognized with merit awards and $1000 of seed money. The merit winners also pitched their ideas to the audience who voted for their favorite. Carolou Goodridge was awarded an additional $1000 and the audience favorite award for I Am Credence, books with creative sensory elements and wooden toys to encourage imaginative play, and sustainable playwear for children ages 1-5.
The other merit winners were: Makini Diaz for Sign-N-Voice Xchange which provides educational materials to initiate open conversation between the hearing and the hearing-loss communities; Latoya Duncan for Good Grief Memorials, a customizable platform bringing physical and virtual memorial services together in one space; Stephanie Petit Homeis for Petit Nursing Accessories providing comfortable eco and budget friendly working gear and accessories for healthcare workers; and Phoebe Yung for DoggyDay an app where dog owners can find trustworthy people to watch their dogs for free, and dog lovers can interact with a dog without the burden of ownership.
PowerUP! first began in 2003, to provide businesses a helping hand after 9/11. Since then, the PowerUP! contest has provided nearly $500,000 to over 200 entrepreneurs across the borough. Many successful Brooklyn businesses launched with help from PowerUP! including Bogota Latin Bistro, Island Pops, Green in BKLYN, Brooklyn Tea, Tinsel Experiential Design, DogSpot and Greenlight Bookstore.
All participants attended free classes on subjects like marketing, business finance and the utilization of library resources. They also received one-on-one business plan assistance from successful entrepreneurs and business experts.
BPL’s PowerUP! Business Plan Competition is generously supported by lead sponsor Dime Community Bank, with additional support provided by Reference Solutions, Signature Bank, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.7 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 60,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.