The first day of the Baltimore African American Festival, Black Enterprise and Pepsi hosted an elevator pitch contest, where finalists from the Instagram contest presented their business pitches to judges Rodney Sampson, of Shark Tank, Alfred Edmond Jr., of Black Enterprise, Sharon Pinder, Director of the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development, and Lauren Maillian Bias, author of The Path Defined.
The event, moderated by entrepreneur Kwame Jackson, featured entrepreneurs who presented their business models and concepts to the panel of judges for a chance to win complementary registration to the 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and lodging. The victor was Anthony Dale, founder of Social Impact Collective, a company that supports partnerships with nonprofits and government programs, bridging the gap. “We saw that Black Enterprise was offering an experience that would help us learn our craft of pitching, and define the message,” said Dale after his win. “We’ll take this feedback, finalize the message and seek investments and we’re elated about the chance to come to the Entrepreneurs Conference to further the learning experience.”
The audience at the Pepsi pavilion, enjoyed watching the entrepreneurs’ pitches, as startup innovators showed them what they had.
“It was great to give a platform for entrepreneurs to expose their brands and to inspire others toward entrepreneurship,” said Edmond Jr., Black Enterprise SVP and chief content officer of BlackEnterprise.com. “And of course, we at Black Enterprise love this idea of the winner being able to have access to opportunity.”
Shark Tank’s Sampson, author of Kingonomics, gave elevator pitch participants key advice on how to improve.
“I invest for a living so anytime there’s an opportunity to be in the room with entrepreneurs of color I’m excited about it,” he said. “Minorities have to be in events like this to broaden their exposure to the investment ecosystem and events like this help to do that.”
Bias was elated to be part of an experience that gave entrepreneurs a platform to learn and grow. “We need more big brands like Pepsi and Black Enterprise who are promoting entrepreneurship and not just giving the opportunity to dream, but also the opportunity to enhance their brands and develop confidence, whether they’re an entrepreneur or not,” she said. “It takes lots of confidence to get on that stage.”
The second runner up, Obidi Orakwusi, founder of Gym Supreme, a fitness tech company, saw himself as a victor as well. “The top thing I learned is even when you don’t win you still win. I may not get the grand prize but the connections and exposure are more than a prize when you’re starting out.”