Our 3rd Annual Pitch Competition was a major success! Our entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to a panel of industry leaders, gained insightful feedback, and even sold their products/services on site to family and friends after the event.

The 1st place winner was Natalie Nieves, the Founder of Bold Creations, a graphic design business and our 2nd place winner was Brianna Smith, the Founder of Kraftii Kouture, a handcrafted jewelry business. Every participant was also awarded $1,000 in funding for their business thanks to a generous donation!

Natalie, an intern in the Web Department, was only 15 years old when she started Bold Creations, making flyers for her friend’s house parties. Ever since, Bold Creations has flourished, expanded, and moved onto becoming a freelance graphic design business that specializes in branding. The funding she received from the competition will help her business grow in many ways.

“The Pitch competition has helped my business tremendously! I can now begin to look for office space to separate my work life from my home life. I ️can also officially invest into another brand photoshoot to take my content and work to the next level.”

Thank you to all of our participants (Nyree, Michael, Kyla, Peggy, Brianna, and Natalie ) - our incredible judges, and our sponsors - Holman Automotive, NJM Insurance Group, and Square for supporting our mission.

Hopeworks hosted their 5th annual Camden Code Day and 2nd annual Virtual Pitch Competition on Saturday, October 23. Sponsored by Amazon, Square Inc., and Ancero LLC, the event offered educational enrichment opportunities for aspiring technologists as well as a chance for business owners to win financial support.

Code Day attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops for all ranges of technological experience, including front-end web development, HTML, Javascript, careers in technology, GIS, data, and data visualization.

The Pitch Competition is designed to provide new entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive the support they need to grow and generate jobs in their city. In order to qualify for the competition, the businesses must be revenue-generated, focused on consumer products, services, or technologies, as well as have the potential to generate new jobs. Along with first place, second place and audience choice winners, additional donations that came in during the course of the competition sent three additional entrepreneurs’ home with monetary prizes. The winners of this year’s Pitch Competition are:

·        1st Place, Judges Choice: $5,000: Fran Dixon (Crescent Designs)

·        2nd Place, Judges Choice: $4,000: Leea Kelly (Leea Luna)

·        (Tie) Audience Choice: $3,000 each: Fran Dixon (Crescent Designs) and Luna Tucker (K.Luna Collections)

·        Mid-Competition Donations: $2,000 each: Dre Jordan (Andre J Media Mobile), Sierra Patterson (All Year Round’ Services) and Jase Elam (Nebulous Healing)

“In one day, we are able to support two ends of the workforce—those looking to enter it and those looking to build it,” said Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks. “We are able to help workers prepare for the jobs we are also helping to create.”

Amazon, one of the Big Five companies in the U.S. information technology industry, is joined by American financial services and digital payments company Square Inc., along with New Jersey-based computer consultancy Ancero LLC, in sponsoring the day.

“We are grateful to Amazon, Square Inc., and Ancero LLC for their sponsorship on our mission to help cultivate talent advancement and business prosperity in the region,” said Brad Aronson, President of Hopeworks’ Board of Directors. “With their support, we are able to help the young people in the community achieve their dreams in the technology industry.”

In many ways, the scene was a familiar one at Hopeworks -- youth and community members, huddled over screens, learning to code and to use technology to change their lives.  However, it was different than a normal day at Hopeworks for two key reasons.

First, it wasn’t just Hopeworks youth learning.  As we do every year, Hopeworks opened it doors to aspiring coders from 6 to 60 to come and learn to code by participating in workshops led by Hopeworks alumni and volunteers from companies in the area, including EPAM, Subaru, Linode, Rutgers, OceanRingTech, and many others.

Second, coding wasn’t all that was in store for the day.  In the afternoon, Hopeworks held its first ever pitch competition, awarding over $3,500 in prizes to Hopeworks alumni who have started their own businesses.  The prize money came from the Thomas family, the family of a Hopeworks alumna, in memory of Aaron Thomas. When Aaron Thomas passed away, the family dedicated all donations in his memory to Hopeworks to support youth entrepreneurship.  This pitch competition was the first step!

The alumni businesses pitched included marketing and design companies, web design services, and many others!  You can see a video of the entire event here!
Check out pictures from the entire day here

808 Market St 3rd Floor
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 365-4673
Hopeworks is a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization, EIN: 31-1660671.
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