Competitions / Funding / Pitches / Startups

Checkmate! Chess Express Kids wins Swim with the Sharks 2021

Jayvon Fairman-Davis' youth-focused chess program took home the $10,000-plus grand prize package.

Chess Express Kids helps under-resourced kids build confidence. (Screenshot)

Jayvon Fairman-Davis’ Chess Express Kids is the grand prize winner of the 2021 Swim with the Sharks competition.

“In chess, after the first move, there are billions of possibilities,” Fairman-Davis said in his pitch. “That’s how life is — you make one step forward, and you can do anything after.”

Fairman-Davis credits chess, and the opportunities he gained as a competitive player as a teenager, with keeping him off the streets Wilmington where he grew up. In addition to founding Chess Express Kids, he is the co-host of Delaware’s first fully virtual chess tournament, The Wilmington Open.

“The problem is that a lot of underprivileged children lack the programs and activities that cultivate essential life skills,” Fairman-Davis said. “Our solution is to bring the very same impact that I got from chess to other students in the Delaware with an engaging and affordable chess coaching platform.”

Jayvon Fairman-Davis, founder of Chess Express Kids

Jayvon Fairman-Davis, founder of Chess Express Kids. (Screenshot)

The pitch impressed judges Chris L. Kenny, president and CEO at The Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware; Bruce Rushton, The Growth Coach of Northern Delaware; and Stephanie Eldridge, cofounder of Code Differently. They ultimately awarded Chess Express Kids the grand prize of $10,000 plus free resources and services including memberships to New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Nextfab and World Trade Center Delaware, as well as advertising and marketing tools and opportunities.

Chess Express Kids was one of four finalists, in addition to Sleeping Bird Coffee, Agora World and Pediatric Therapy Partners, LLC.

The Swim with Sharks $1,500 People’s Choice Award, which was voted on by the public between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15, went to semifinalist Enetor, cofounded by Jose A. Salazar and Luis Marin Enetor.

Swim with Sharks is a partnership between the Emerging Enterprise Center and the New Castle County Office of Economic Development initiative NCC Innovates, Delaware Small Business Development Center, Delaware Division of Small Business, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, as well as community sponsors.

You can watch the full finals competition here:


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