Winners Announced for UB's 'Rise to the Challenge' Business Pitch Competition
May 7, 2018
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
Four winners emerged from the University of Baltimore's sixth annual "Rise to the Challenge" Business Pitch Competition on May 2, each taking home their portion of the more than $21,500 in prize money. The event, held in the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, home of UB's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, showcases many of the UB community's most talented and driven entrepreneurs.
Nicholas Whited, B.S. '19, took the top prize in the category of "Aspiring Business Ventures," netting $1,000 for his business idea, RaxCity, which provides unique marketing opportunities for urban businesses through custom bike racks.
The winning vote in the category of "Existing Business Ventures" went to Brianna Billups, B.S. '18, who earned $5,000 for Fully Grown, a service- and product-driven company on a mission to help communities eat balanced, nutritious meals.
Brian Kochesfahani, B.S. '19, founder of B'More Fluff, a mobile service offering hand-spun, organic cotton candy to the Baltimore events industry, took home the Crowd Favorite award of $500.
Kayleigh Harkay, B.S. '19, creator of PerdidoFido, a GPS- and vital health-tracking pet collar designed to protect pets and communicate between owners and their veterinarians, was selected as the evening's "Most Promising Business." She received a check for $15,000. The award, established this year through the newly created Jay Ripley Entrepreneurship Fund, is given to the student whose business, in either category, has the best prospects for growth, as determined by the judges.
As an added highlight this year, Brittany DeNovellis, one of last year's "Rise to the Challenge" winners and a rising star among UB's entrepreneurial students, and a candidate in the M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneur program, delivered the keynote address and made the entire night a memorable celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. DeNovellis is co-founder of Mera Kitchen Collective, a worker-owned cooperative focused on empowering refugee and immigrant women through food and entrepreneurship.
The annual event, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by UB's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and provides an opportunity for UB undergraduates and graduates, from all schools, to pitch ideas and concepts for new and existing businesses before a live audience of their peers, UB staff and entrepreneurial experts.
Read coverage about the competition in Technical.ly Baltimore.
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