On June 5, 2019 the Skandalaris Center hosted the first Ascend 2020 IdeaBounce®. This event, held at Cortex Innovation Hall, was an opportunity for minority and women entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and network with other business owners and community members.
Eighteen local business owners competed, before a panel of judges, for a chance to win a $200 cash prize. The following business leaders comprised the judging panel:
- Brian Hurd, Technical Assistance Program Manager, Rise
- Veta Jeffery, Founder/ Organizer, Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce
- Phyllis Meagher, Retired Entrepreneur and Winery Owner
- Dr. Cheryl Watkins-Moore, Director of Bioscience & Entrepreneurial Inclusion, BioSTL
- Victoria Gonzalez, Justine PETERSEN
The following entrepreneurs pitched their ideas for a chance to win a prize:
- Tiffany Garry – Peaks & Valleys Cafe, a company focused on changing communities one meal at a time and for every meal purchased a meal is provided to someone in need.
- Lynn Anderson – Diversity Job Source, an organization looking to create djsnews.com, a job board and mobile app where people can post jobs and apply directly.
- Lamar Woods – SoHeart, an addiction recovery mobile app that will provide access to a 24/7 support system built with a recovery focus.
- Cynthia Jordan – Integrity Holding Company of St. Louis, Inc., a Greater St. Louis community loan fund designed to fill credit gaps.
- Obinno Coley – NCommon, a mobile app designed to connect strangers to show them what they have in common based on geographic area.
- Bryon Pierson – EDURAIN, an online platform and app that helps students file the FAFSA, identify and apply for scholarships, and find housing at school.
- Susan Terrill – Frigga’s Fiber Arts Studio, a sustainable children’s clothing line created by artisan seamstresses recovering from PTSD from sex trafficking.
- Kathy Bernard – Capable Candidates.com, a platform that prepares non-traditional talent to be hired and trains companies in how to overcome bias and improve their hiring practices.
- Cheri Renee – Glampz, a revolutionary way to enhance boring lamps with lightweight decorative face plate designs.
- Madeline Jackson – NanaComb, a comb designed for curly haired people worldwide.
- Wendy Todd – Carbon, a digital platform that engages the black community on issues of emotional health, well being, resilience, and life strategies.
- Michelle Robinson – DEMI blue, an organic 7 well-known toxins-free vegan friendly nail polish.
- Monique Kirksey – Love Butter, natural and environmentally friendly products designed to transform and heal the mind, body, and soul.
- Shelby Farr – Luxury Body Butter Candle, an all-natural candle that can be used on the skin for moisture and fragrance.
- DeAnn Porter – Bold & Beauty in Black Beauty Supply, an online beauty supply that incorporates affordability, beauty, and education.
- Kianna Hill – Natural Soap by Ki, a black-owner natural beauty brand specializing in handmade skincare products.
- Pryce Yebesi – Energym, a gym that repurposes expended energy in the gym to power the gym.
- Zuzana Kocsisova – Engine 2 Photonics, a horticultural lighting and photosynthesis product that improves the feasibility and profitability of indoor agriculture.
After the judges heard the exciting presentations scores were tabulated and five winners a $200 prize were announced. The winners were EDURAIN, Peaks and Valleys Cafe, DEMI blue, Carbon, and Frigga’s Fiber Arts Studio.
After the scheduled pitches the IdeaBounce® was opened to entrepreneurs in the audience to present their ideas. These entrepreneurs shared ideas for an organic healthy food supplier, a dream machine, an online platform for people with disabilities find jobs, and a surgical lighting system.
Pitches were followed by a networking reception were presenters and local business leaders connected with one another.