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Black Girl Vision’s next “Boss Up” pitch competition is coming up on Oct. 26. It’s the latest edition of the event created by Shelly Bell to help women of color get access to capital.
“Basically, the pitch competition raises money for the pitch competition,” said Bell. She’s a creative entrepreneur herself who started a print shop, and often performs at poetry events around D.C. She saw a lot of resemblance between pitch competitions and poetry slams, as each involve presenting your creation in a mere three minutes.
“I took these worlds that I live in and put them together,” she said.
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The crowdfunding aspect adds a third element. Proceeds from ticket sales are used to pay for a pot of money called the Vision Fund, which ultimately provides backing for the winning check. So along with supporting entrepreneurs, it makes attendees true participants in the event, as well.
“Not only does the community help raise the money, but the community helps pick the winner,” Bell said. And they provide feedback via notecards.
Winners so far have ranged from a cleat guard to apps for financial literacy and hair care.
Along with helping entrepreneurs get exposure and win funding, the competitions are also a place where founders can get experience in front of an audience. Some have offered their first pitch on the competition’s stage before seeking out other funding.
“We’re becoming a safe space to begin your pitch journey,” Bell said.
Bell also got some recent backing as one of the grant recipients from Beacon DC. She said the $4,000 will help build capacity for operations, and sets up quarterly events for 2018.