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Ten Women Entrepreneurs are Finalists in Rising Tide Capital’s 2016 Start Something Challenge

Esther Fraser
July 28, 2016

Ten New Jersey Business Owners will Pitch for a share of $25,000 in Cash and Prizes

Tonight, at 6PM at Saint Peter’s University, ten entrepreneurs will pitch head to head before a panel of local business and government leaders in the Grand Finale of the 2016 Start Something Challenge (SSC). Just about six weeks ago on June 13, 109 New Jersey entrepreneurs entered this year’s competition by creating a 30-second video about their businesses. After two rounds of online viewing and voting, only ten finalists–all of them women business owners–remain in the hunt for a share of $25,000 in small business grants and prizes.  

“From a home services company to a commercial kitchen, from allergy-free baby food to a craft kit that connects creativity to technology for young women, this year’s finalists truly reflect the range of concerns that affect modern women. They have all worked very hard to get to this stage of the competition, and we are so inspired by each of their journeys,” said Esther Fraser, director of communications at Rising Tide Capital, the nonprofit organization that has hosted the competition for the past five years.

She added, “While this is our first all-female finale, it’s not surprising because the rate of women starting new businesses has never been higher. And while the rates of business revenues and employment from women owned-firms have continued to grow nationally, what hasn’t grown is their access to capital, funding that could catalyze their growth. Thanks in no small part to supporters of the SSC like the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, tonight we will be able to invest some cash into three business owned and operated by three New Jersey women.”

The SSC finalists each have five minutes to pitch their businesses before a panel of nine judges, followed by two minutes of judges Q and A. At the end of the evening, the three winners will be announced. The first prize is $10,000, the second prize is $7,500  and the third prize is $5,000. Finalists not winning one of the top prizes will receive an iPad.

“I look forward to learning more about the contestants and hearing their stories of what truly inspired them to become entrepreneurs,” said Nana Duncan, managing partner of  TD+ Partners, who will sit on the panel of judges tonight. “As an entrepreneur myself,  this is an opportunity to be encouraged by them in my own path and to be reminded that people are always taking risks to improve their own lives while also seeking to make significant contributions to the world they live in.”

While tickets are sold out for tonight’s event, the competition will be streamed live from the Start Something Challenge Facebook page, at 6.25 PM EST.

All of the finalists will receive their prizes on November 1 at the Start Something Champions Gala, at Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City.

Tonight’s Finalists:

Racquel Clarke, Teaneck -Fit Fund
Pamela Roundtree, Jersey City – NewBody.NewMind.NewLiving
Djenaba Johnson-Jones, Jersey City – Hudson Kitchen
Ingri Lucia Torello, Rutherford – Ingri’s Home Service
Denise Woodard, Jersey City – Vivi’s Life
Charnelle Bain, West Orange- Simply Elegant Events
Tina Tang, Jersey City – Iron Strong Jewelry
Nia Allen-Reid, Jersey City – Myrtle&Flossie
Natasha Dzurny, Jersey City – TechnoChic: Technology-Infused DIY Craft Kits
Vernesa Everett, Newark – Velvet Rope Boudoir Photography

The Start Something Challenge (SSC) is a statewide pitch competition and business-strengthening opportunity for New Jersey entrepreneurs. Hosted by nonprofit organization, Rising Tide Capital, The Challenge is funded by visionary supporters, including the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. Since 2012, The Start Something Challenge has empowered 391 New Jersey entrepreneurs across 80 towns and cities in New Jersey, to collectively generate 120 million media impressions.

To learn more, visit

Headquartered in Jersey City, Rising Tide Capital, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded with the mission to empower entrepreneurs to create and grow small businesses which transform lives and communities. The organization’s vision is to build a replicable model for high-quality entrepreneurial development services that can be adopted locally in other low-income communities.

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