Skandalaris Center

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Skandalaris Center Hosts 2nd Ascend 2020 IdeaBounce® of the Summer

Sydney Everett (Staff)
August 5, 2019

The Skandalaris Center hosted the second Ascend2020 IdeaBounce®  of summer 2019 on Tuesday, July 30th at the Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center. The event was an opportunity for members of the St. Louis entrepreneurship community to pitch their ideas and network with other community members and business owners.

Better Family Life’s commitment to planning and establishing social, cultural, artistic, youth, economic, housing, and educational programs that help to promote positive and innovative changes within the Metropolitan St. Louis area made it the perfect location for the event. Many of the night’s ideas came from former participants in the Better Family Life Business Development program.

Isis Jones and Skandalaris Center Ascend Grant Manager Natasha Conley

Isis Jones, on-air radio personality at 95.5 who hosts a show Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm, served as the evenings MC. Her energy and excitement helped calm the participants nerves as fourteen community members pitched their ideas, to the judges, for a chance to win a $200 cash prize. The evenings judging panel included:

  • Eddie Davis – President & Executive Director at Center for Acceleration of African American Business for Better Family Life
  • Akshita Puram – Director of Product Management at Enterprise Holdings
  • Ivo Vukomanovic – Business Loan Counselor at Justine Petersen

Judges L to R: Eddie Davis, Ivo Vukomanovic, Akshita Puram

The following entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to the judges and audience:

  • Kathy Bernard –, contracts with companies to access candidates, arrange training, and prepare them for jobs at companies.
  • Yvette Carter – Anointed Hands Catering LLC, developed three commercially-bottled gourmet BBQ sauces to be sold in high-end stores and direct to consumer.
  • Obinno Cooley – InCommon, an app that builds connects between strangers using state-of-the-art technology to connect people with common interests in the same geographic area.
  • Nicole Fordson – NextSteps, an in-door map mobile app that uses AR, safety features, and calendar integration to help people navigate inside complex campuses.
  • Whitney Jones – Transitional Homes 4 You, provides homes for those in need.
  • Julian Keaton – Dimensions, an AR app designed to help college students transition to their new cities through a scavenger hunt.
  • Neshanta Larry – That’s So Good Pop-up Buffet, a catering company that provides fresh and delicious food.
  • Kacie Starr Long – Sew Hope, helps ex-offenders transition to the community through a job training and life skills program.
  • Jo Otey – Foodie Now, helps restaurants better understand the data and insights to be more profitable and better serve customers.
  • Annette Peoples – Pop Up Study Shop, a safe space to study on campus with coffee and treats that is open from 9pm to 4:30am.
  • Valeria Rodriguez – Shine in All Shades, an adult coloring book created to celebrate black and brown women.
  • Paris Rollins – Picky Eaters, a children’s cafe that serves health food  as art and sells top of the line kids vitamins, healthy snacks, and candy.
  • Effrem Grettenberger – Encore Theater Group, gives back and grows youth confidence through theater.
  • Lynne Taylor – Bye Bye Beauty, a website designed to track and monitor beauty products to alert consumers of discontinuing products.

Winners L to R: Lynne Taylor, Kacie Starr Long, Kathy Bernard, Efferem Grettenberger, Valeria Rodriguez

Judged pitches were followed by an open mic session where audience members were invited to pitch their ideas. After the open mic the event’s five winners: Kacie Starr Long, Effrem GrettenbergerValeria RodriguezKathy Bernard, and Lynne Taylor were announced.

The night ended with a networking session that was catered by Neshanta Larry and That’s So Good Pop-Up Buffet.