Picked by a panel of judges from a pool of 140 applicants, the winners of the third annual Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Business Grant Competition each walked away with $20,000 to fund their business ventures or implement expansions.
This year’s winners are April Films Inc., Go Figure, Jerky Jerks Systems International, and Epiphany Spa & Salon.
Targeting entrepreneurs ages 21 — 30, the Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Series also features a seminar that travels to cities from coast to coast, offering urban entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn how to showcase and grow their companies. According to Karen McDowell, senior brand manager, innovation for Miller Brewing Co., the competition was developed to provide urban entrepreneurs with opportunities that are often closed to them.
To enter next year’s competition, request an application from Flowers Communication Group at 312-986-1268. All entries must be received by Nov. 17, 2003. For more information, visit www.Miller Brewing.com.
April Films Inc.
Inspired by filmmaker Spike Lee, Patrick launched April Films Inc., a New York City-based production company, while still a student in New York University’s film school. As her clientele expanded, Patrick noted that without the proper funding and equipment, April Films was sure to fade in the post-Sept. 11th economy.
Upon the direction of her mother, Patrick entered the Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Business Grant Competition. For two years prior to entering the competition, Patrick worked on her business plan with mentors at SCORE, a small business development organization. Since winning the grant, Patrick has closed the gaps of the company’s production capabilities, is embarking on a marketing campaign, and is currently in the process of relaunching her Website. The company grossed some $40,000 in 2002.
To Arr-Keicha Danzie, co-owner of Macon, Ga.-based Go Figure, becoming an entrepreneur meant creating a flexible schedule that will allow her to be an involved parent once her 2-year-old twins start school. With fitness as her personal passion, starting a fitness club for women seemed a perfect fit.
Go Figure opened its doors in December 2001 and grossed roughly $36,000 in 2002. The business specializes in a full-body, 30-minute exercise program using hydraulic resistance machines. With a need to expand to accommodate her growing clientele, Danzie worked with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center to create a concise business plan for the competition. Since being awarded the grant, Go Figure has added an aerobics floor and more cardio equipment and is seeking certification to implement a Fit Kids program.
Jerky Jerks Systems International
In May of 2001, Tarik Bragg walked away from a prosperous career as a Mercedes Benz fleet manager to reopen his father’s restaurant, Janet’s Original Jerk Chicken. Bragg recalls being moved to revamp the restaurant, which was forced to close its doors after the loss of its white patronage after the L.A. riots. Renamed Jerky Jerks Systems International, the authentic Caribbean cuisine was relaunched in May 2003 and offers catering and delivery services.
After an unsuccessful attempt at the 2001 Recycling Black Dollars Business Grant Competition, sponsored by Miller, Bragg revitalized his business plan with