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Rising to Expand Opportunity

Esther Fraser
September 22, 2017

In 2017, Rising Tide Capital is re-imagining our annual fundraising event and celebration of entrepreneurship by embracing one of our core strengths—the strength of our community. This year, we’ve partnered with several of our stakeholders to create a signature event–Rise to Expand Opportunity–to pair meaning making with merry making while raising funds for the year-round services we offer to entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their businesses.

On November 2, at the Harborside Atrium in downtown Jersey City, we will co-host a reception with Peter Buffett–co-president of the NoVo foundation, as well as a food festival with the New York Times-recognized Midnight Market, which just happens to be the brainchild of one of our entrepreneurs. We’re working hard with these special partners to create an event that brings our entire ecosystem together–funders and supporters, volunteers and small business service providers, community and mission partners and government and, of course, our entrepreneurs.

Our goal? To paint a picture of what inclusive entrepreneurship truly looks like by bringing together all of the players it takes to make our work happen, to stimulate conversations about what our work together means against a celebratory backdrop of food, fun and entertainment, provided by entrepreneurs and local small businesses.

On that evening, our special guest will be Peter Buffett who is not only the son of famed investor Warren Buffett and co-president of the NoVo Foundation, but also a musician and writer. Peter is living proof of what it means to live a purpose-driven life by pursuing your passion. A gifted writer, he creates narratives that speak to the heart of our shared experience of humanity, and we are really looking forward to the musical tribute and conversation he will lead in the first part of our event. During this intimate reception we will envision together our interconnected future, and the valuable role we each play in the communities in which we work and live.

Guests who attend this one hour reception are then invited to celebrate community and entrepreneurship with us at a food festival we are co-hosting with Midnight Market. Open to the public, this New York Times-featured Midnight Market Food Festival starts at 6:30 PM on the evening and will be in full swing by the time the Peter Buffett reception is finished.  Started last winter by Rising Tide Entrepreneur Alysis Vasquez and her best friend Perla Nieves, this event has brought the Jersey City community together in support of local food businesses, while giving food entrepreneurs and small businesses a platform to reach a dynamic and diverse audience. Since then, thousands of residents have visited monthly events to “eat, drink and dance” with Midnight Market, and they have built a sterling reputation for curating an exciting and delicious foodie experience.  

We at RTC are so proud of Lisi, and we are even prouder to partner with her on our annual celebration of entrepreneurship. We certainly cannot think of a better way to celebrate entrepreneurs than by highlighting their work, and we are excited to produce an event with her and Perla that will feature even more of our entrepreneurs as service providers and entertainment on our biggest event of the year.

Our vision for this event is that our guests will have a visceral experience of what it looks  and feels like when entrepreneurs have access and platforms to build their businesses;  and how these businesses enhance our experiences within our communities. We want to move away from the typical gala format that includes many speeches and just have fun, so when we say meaning making while merry making we aren’t kidding! To produce an event of the kind we needed to find a nontraditional venue, and this is when our partners Mack Cali Realty offered us the use of the Harborside Atrium as an in-kind donation. This past week Mack Cali released their vision for their Jersey City waterfront development, one that will showcase local small businesses. It’s truly an honor to have partners like Mack Cali who share our vision for how small businesses build culture in the communities where we live, work, and play.

Every year our annual celebration honors the winners of our annual Start Something Challenge, and this year is no exception. Our winners this year are three dynamic Rising Tide Entrepreneurs–graduates of our Community Business Academy with inspiring stories that are all examples of Rising to Expand Opportunity. Brittany Graziosi is creating a platform for artist entrepreneurs through her JC Oddities Market, Djenaba Johnson-Jones has developed support systems and resources for local food entrepreneurs through Hudson Kitchen, and Aiesha Phillips, a single mom has created a business that leaves a legacy of resilience for her three daughters. It is our honor to highlight their achievements as dynamic business women, and they will be taking center stage at the Midnight Market alongside our longtime supporter JPMorgan Chase.

The leading partner of our Start Something Challenge (SSC) for the past six years— since inception–JPMorgan Chase has made an investment in the SSC as a platform for entrepreneurs and we welcome the opportunity to give them the spotlight on November 2 to highlight all of The 2017 SSC Finalists. More than a business competition, the SSC encourages business owners to build an online presence for their businesses, regardless of what stage of business they are in, to hone their communications and messaging, and to experiment with offline and online messaging platforms. This year the competition had its widest reach to date, with 112 entries from 50 NJ towns and cities, and over 50 million media impressions to date.

The thing that has excited me the most about my work at Rising Tide Capital has always been the community that supports our work– and it really takes everyone in our ecosystem to support the success of our entrepreneurs. From funders both global and local, to local government and nonprofits, to thought leaders and our entrepreneurs themselves, unusual partners are co-creating a platform upon which communities can thrive. I hope you will join us on November 2 for a true celebration of entrepreneurship!