On Saturday, August 19, EforAll South Coast held its first ever outdoor Pitch Contest during the 3rd Eye Open Event at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, featuring ideas from all aspects of business in the South Coast region.
Nine entrepreneurs came to present their businesses at the tabling session—where fellow entrepreneurs, guests, and members of the community engaged and provided feedback about their ideas—which included everything from location based digital music service to a solar dehydration system in The Gambia, Africa. Five of the businesses, were preselected to give a two-and-a-half minute pitch for cash prizes. There were three additional presenters chosen by a “wild card,” which was an idea selected at random.
Judges listened to each pitch, scored based on the clarity of the idea and presentation of the entrepreneur. The presenters were asked to focus on the following questions: what was the opportunity that led to the idea, who is the customer/market, how will it be sustainable as a business or non-profit, and how will the prize money be used. The judges included Sarah Bisch from Edward Jones, Karyn Estrella from Medical Equipment & Services Association of New England, Dana Rebeiro from New Bedford City Council and Ed Lopez from Remax/Vantage.
The grand prize of $1,000 was awarded to wild card, S.H.I.N.E: Solar Harnessing for Income, Nutrition, and Empowerment by Whitney Ceesay of Westport, MA, who is promoting the use of outdoor solar dehydration systems in countries that are prone to famine cycles. Much of the developing world’s crops come in faster than people can harvest them which results in a large number of wasted crops. The solar dehydrator harnesses the sun to increase food security, generate income and empower rural entrepreneurs. Whitney has distributed about 200 dehydrators in The Gambia, Africa and plans to use the prize money to expand into other nations.
Dr. April Innis of Boston, and founder of eekMD took home the second-place prize of $750. eekMD creates fun experiences and products that engage children in health and wellness both inside and outside of the medical setting. eekMD helps young people get medical attention in a safe environment and gets them excited about health and wellness. Dr. April Innis has developed games and workshops for children in various communities to educate them on wellness.
Third place and $500 winner went to Selena Deschenes and the 12 young members of LIFEfundamentals in New Bedford. The LIFEfundamentals movement connects and propels positive ideas while teaching children to use their time positively and productively. Through the three programs “Play” “Stand Up” and “Missions + Visions” they teach and encourage the five fundamentals be A good leader, stay positive, take responsibility, be proactive and never stop learning. The group often volunteers at parks and playgrounds to create a safe atmosphere to play and learn.
The $500 Fan Favorite was awarded to Sammy Nabulsi of Openbar, a legal software firm in Boston that provides on-demand legal research support to solo practitioners and small firms that need legal issues researched but lack the financial and logistical resources to keep up with caseloads and engage in legal research.
Dr. April Innis founder of eekMD, had this to say about the event: “This experience was so valuable; not only did I get constructive and actionable feedback on my own venture, but I was able to connect with other amazing and passionate founders. The vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in New Bedford and on the South Coast is inspiring and contagious. I’m even more excited about the next steps needed to take my business to the next level, and I have EforAll to thank for that.”
All EforAll events are free and Eforall will be hosting more Pitch Contests, networking events, and an Accelerator Program twice a year. Finalists that apply to this Accelerator Program receive three months of mentorship and weekly workshops, access to technical experts, and the opportunity to compete for $30,000 in cash prizes to launch their business. For more information, go to eforall.org.
The next Pitch Contest is October 19th in Fall River, MA. The Pitch Contest is for food based businesses. This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit eforall.org/pitch – contests/.