(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
On Thursday night, seven African American women pitched their businesses before a packed house at The Living Well in the first edition of Boss Up Baltimore.
The win went to a Baltimore venture that’s looking to teach STEAM skills to Baltimore youth with dirt bikes. Brittany Young launched the company to channel the passion she saw on the streets coming up in West Baltimore. She created an education platform to teach science, engineering and creative skills. In a city where it remains illegal (yet popular) to ride, Young also wants to show that dirt bikes can have a positive impact.
“We do this quarterly in D.C., and we want to begin to introducing it into other markets. So we want to come in and stay with you a little longer, if you’re okay with, and bring in more entrepreneurs,” Bell, who was recently voted Technical.ly DC’s Entrepreneur of 2017, told the crowd.
The Thursday night event also represented a concept that brought together a couple of different ideas. Conceived by D.C. entrepreneur Shelly Bell and Black Girl Ventures, Boss Up came to Baltimore after Bell met entrepreneur Takia Ross of Accessimatized at the most recent quarterly edition of the competition in the District.
“I know what it’s like to start a business from nothing, start a business out of necessity and start a business from a passion within you,” she said. “But I also know what it’s like when you don’t have money, and I know what it’s like when you need to scale and you’re ready to grow, and you can’t.”
Ross said she immediately took to the idea of bringing it to Baltimore, and put together a small team.
The event is designed as a part-pitch competition, part-crowdfunding campaign. The attendees of the event contribute money that help fund the earnings for the winner.
At the first Baltimore event, Young won more than $1,000. The prize package also included a one-month membership to The Cube coworking space, a meeting on taxes with Watt Business Solutions and a photoshoot funded by The Living Well.
Winning second place was Tania Speaks, a youth entrepreneur who created a formula known as Brow Boost to give eyebrows a full look. The third place winner was Johari Barnes, who created a line of 27 natural jams under the label Johari Made.
The other four entrepreneurs who pitched included:
- Ivy Rochester, who is planning to open a salon catering to plus-size clients called Jamilia’a Curvy Galleria.
- Denise Dantzler, cofounder with her son of Joshys Soap Bar, a handmade soap for children.
- Shante Lane, cofounder of Discovery Lane, a preschool offering programming including yoga and cooking.
- Chinonye Egbulem, cofounder of an online store with African-inspired home goods called Joon Africa.
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