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Winners Announced in Rising Tide Capital’s 2016 Start Something Challenge

Esther Fraser
July 29, 2016

Jersey City, NJ–Last night, after six weeks of competition, The 2016 Start Something Challenge (SSC) came to a close with a live pitch event at Saint Peter’s University’s Pope Lecture Hall. Before a standing-room only audience of about 120 people, the ten SSC finalists pitched head-to-head before a panel of judges for a share of $25,000 in grant funding to grow their business.

It was an emotional evening, as entrepreneur after entrepreneur described their company’s product or service, showed how valuable it is to their community, and explained what they would do to grow their businesses if they won the $10,000 grand prize.

After two hours of business pitches, the results were announced:

Denise Woodard, founder of Vivi’s Life, an allergen-free baby food company, won the grand prize of $10,000

Tina Tang, founder of Iron Strong Jewelry, which designs jewelry that celebrates women’s accomplishments won the second prize of $7,500

Racquel Clarke, founder of Fit FUNd, a social enterprise that makes fitness accessible to the community by having corporate clients underwrite the cost of community classes, won the third prize of $5,000.

“What an evening!” exclaimed Alfa Demmellash, CEO and co-founder of Rising Tide Capital. “Tonight we saw ten dynamic women show us exactly how entrepreneurship has the power to transform lives. Every single one of these entrepreneurs have turned solutions they developed for themselves and their families into a business that has the potential to make a tremendous impact on their communities.”

“We at Rising Tide Capital are so honored to create and host a platform that gives these women the opportunity to promote their businesses, and–thanks to generous funding by JPMorgan Chase and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation–win grants to help them meet their business goals. I didn’t envy the judges in their deliberations, but I know that everyone in the room tonight feels that we as a community are richer, we are all winners after hearing these women pitch their ventures this evening,”  she added.

All of The 2016 SSC finalists will be honored at a showcase and reception on September 9, and will be awarded their prizes at the 5th Annual Start Something Challenge Gala at the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City on November 1. At the gala each of the other finalists will receive an iPad, and an additional Community Choice grant of $1000 will be announced.

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.

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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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