The winners of this year’s 53 Ideas Pitch Competition include a product to help women of color more easily style their hair, a food truck that sells breakfast tacos, and a service to help nonprofits reach more donors.
“Each of our winners are on a mission to solve a unique problem in our community. We’re thrilled they chose to further develop their business plans through the 53 Ideas Pitch Competition, and we’re excited to see what comes next for each of them,” said Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business at South Piedmont Community College Renee Hode.
“Congratulations to our winners and all our participants.”
The 53 Ideas Pitch Competition is a regional entrepreneurship competition hosted by South Piedmont that allows business owners and entrepreneurs to pitch their big idea in a 53-second video. The top 53 submissions are then given training and support as they develop their business pitches.
Each contestant completes 12 hours of business training covering business model development, customer discovery, finance, and pitching. There are also opportunities to network and learn from other entrepreneurs. The entire process culminates in one final pitch day where 10 finalists make one last pitch for the prize funding, hoping for a shot at the grand prize of $10,000 for their business.
This year’s winners include:
1st place, $10,000 — Jexsii. Founded by Charlotte resident Tequia Williams, a nurse who long struggled with styling her tightly curled hair, Jexsii will offer a signature product called Jagid that combines a wide-toothed comb with a scalp cleanser and massager. The result is a product that has made it easier than ever for Williams to achieve her desired styles without damaging her hair. Williams has been researching and developing her product since 2014. Her prize winnings will allow her to begin production and move closer to bringing Jagid to market.
Last year, Williams placed in the top 10 at the 53 Ideas Pitch Competition.
“It’s really a story of resiliency,” she said. “Over the past year, I’ve grown a lot and become more confident in myself. The competition helped me lay out my financial projections better, narrow down my target demographic, and enhance my pitch deck. I was able to pitch more boldly and just flow better in the moment. It’s an incredible feeling.”
2nd place, $5,000 — Just Jo’s. This delicious start-up is run by Jo’Von Wright, a Charlotte resident who seeks to offer the Charlotte metro area a new option for fast, inexpensive Mexican food. Her food truck will sell nutritious breakfast tacos. Wright’s makes her business all the more unique by naming each taco on her menu after an inspirational woman in her life and donating a portion of her tips to feeding the homeless and hungry. Wright will use her winnings to cover set-up costs, including food supplies and marketing materials.
“This competition was beneficial to making Just Jo’s steps closer to a reality, and I am so thankful for the opportunity,” Wright said.
3rd place, $2,500 — PlanTELLGive. The brainchild of Union County-based entrepreneurs Shane Fraser and David Casper, PlanTELLGive will help nonprofits better coordinate, publicize, and manage their events. PlanTELLGive’s services include a calendar to help nonprofits schedule their events without overlapping one another, intuitive event planning software, and event management services.
“The structured process of the competition helped us take our concept and move toward a realistic business plan. The feedback from the second round helped us to answer questions about our business while becoming more invested in this new way to maximize community impact,” Casper said.
To learn more about the 53 Ideas Pitch Competition, visit 53ideas.com.