2020 National Virtual Pitch Contest
10 Entrepreneurs will Compete to Win Cash and Prizes
POWERFUL! TALENTED! DRIVEN! CREATIVE! INNOVATIVE!
These are just a few words to describe the entrepreneurs participating in the 2020 National Virtual Pitch Contest presented by the National Entrepreneurs Association and Dell Technologies. Tune in as contestants from across the U.S. pitch their business ideas in three minutes. First and second place winners will be chosen.
The first place winner will receive a $1000 cash prize, a free Dell computer valued at over $1000, and a one year membership to the National Entrepreneurs Association!
The second place winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a free Dell computer and a one year membership to the National Entrepreneurs Association.
*Please note the event start times vary according to time zone. 6pm Eastern Time. 5pm Central Time. 4pm Mountain. 3pm Pacific Time.
Meet our Moderator
ZaLonya Allen, PhD
President/CEO of National Entrepreneurs Association
Dr. ZaLonya Allen is President/CEO of the National Entrepreneurs Association. She has been an entrepreneur for 20 years. As a Leadership Development Speaker and Trainer she has delivered presentations for organizations throughout the country and coached professionals in a variety of industries. In recent years her coaching practice has focused on helping entrepreneurs breakthrough mental barriers. Dr. Allen earned a Bachelors in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Michigan, a Masters in Industrial Relations from Wayne State University and a Doctorate in Psychology from North Central University. She enjoys teaching online psychology classes and currently teaches the Psychology of Learning.
Meet Our Keynote Speaker
Mobolaji Sokunbi of Dell Technologies
Head of North America Small Business
Topic: "Using Technology to Take Your Business to New Heights"
Mobolaji Sokunbi has been at Dell for more than 8 years. Over the course of his career at Dell, Mobolaji has held various sales, digital marketing, merchandising and leadership roles across the Consumer, Commercial and Small Business divisions in North America. As the Head of Strategic Partnerships and the Centre for Entrepreneurship for Dell Small Business, Mobolaji is focused on empowering Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners to thrive by identifying and providing the right technology and tailored support plan that will meet their business needs. He is an author (The Nigerian Time Machine Activity Book) and also the co-founder of The 234 Project, a platform dedicated to inspiring a young generation of African youth to identify the challenges around them as opportunities to make a difference.
Meet our Distinguished Judges
Ren Carlton, Detroit Entrepreneur, Speculator, and Angel Investor
Ren has spent his career starting, growing, selling, and funding businesses. After graduating college, Ren earned his CPA license and served as the CFO for a Tier 1 manufacturing company. His passion for business led him to leave his position as CFO to pursue a number of entrepreneurial opportunities. Ren now actively launches, grows, funds, and sells businesses. In addition, Ren enjoys helping entrepreneurs pursue bold, fearless goals. Along the way, Ren hosted an award-winning radio show, wrote a successful book, and presented to various groups throughout the United States. He is the recipient of numerous awards including.
Leader and Innovator by Lawrence Technological University – 2014
Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” award – 2012
DBusiness “30 in Their Thirties” – 2011
Corp! Magazine “Best of Michigan Business” (Dynamic Advisory Solutions) – 2009
Small Business Council of America, “Best of Business” (Dynamic Advisory Solutions) – 2009
Corp! Magazine “Entrepreneur of Distinction” – 2008
SBA “Small Business Journalist of the Year” (Business Realty Network) – 2007
Paul Jones, Executive Director at Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
Paul Jones has a unique combination of institutional finance, small business advisory and entrepreneurship experience. Prior to joining the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Team, Paul founded TIVA Capital Advisors, a “virtual CFO company, focusing on data analytics, financial literacy and value extraction. In the previous 10 years, Mr. Jones was co-founder & CEO of IPX EG International; a telecom company domiciled in west Africa. Under Paul’s leadership; IPX grew from start-up to $20million annual sales with over 100 employees.
Janice Cardwell, MBA, PhD, Entrepreneur
Dr. Cardwell is former Vice President/Campus Director for University of Phoenix-Detroit and a strong advocate for entrepreneurs. She has 30 years experience in adult learning and higher education. Dr. Jan is also an entrepreneur. As CEO and Founding Partner of Conceivers LLC, her firm provides Empowerment (life) Coaching, Executive Coaching, and Dissertation Coaching services. She brings a wealth of experience having held numerous board positions for a variety of non profit organizations and currently sits on the board of the National Entrepreneurs Association. Dr. Cardwell earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Capella University.
Kevin Ketels, Entrepreneur and College Professor at Mike Ilitch School of Business
Kevin is President and Founder of Kyrris Marketing. He has over 22 years of experience in strategic planning, branding, marketing, communications, business development & agency management. He is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Wayne State University. He has taught a wide range of classes in the Mike Ilitch School of Business. In addition, he served on Grosse Pointe Woods City Council in 2011. He has a BA in Journalism with an additional major in Psychology from Michigan State University and a MS in Mass Communication from Boston University. He is a board member for the National Entrepreneurs Association.
Meet our 2020 Contestants
Bri Makaric, Founder of Brite bites from Saginaw Michigan
Bri Makaric is a 2020 graduate from Michigan State University. Growing up she struggled with many different nutrient deficiencies and digestive problems. It was difficult for her to find a snack that could give her the nutrients she needed. She began taking probiotics in a pill form, which immensely improved her digestive system. However, she knew there had to be an easier, more convenient way to get her probiotics in. Bri wanted to combine her passion for health + wellness to make the world a healthier place. She built this brand as a reflection of her own lifestyle, but more importantly, to inspire others to prioritize their health and wellbeing. Our goal is to make healthy snacks convenient, and delicious! brite-bites.com
Colby Tunick, CEO of ReFocus AI from Sacramento California
Colby Tunick is the CEO of ReFocus AI, an enterprise AI platform enabling insurance professionals to use the data they already have to increase their revenue by 60%. He currently works at the CA Earthquake Authority which is the second largest, single-line, natural catastrophe insurance company in the world. Previously he worked as DME, an international defense consulting company, and at Voyager, a spacetech startup. He currently resides in Sacramento, California. Colby holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from San Diego State University in International Security and Conflict Resolution. refocusai.com.
Orela Desiree Anani, CEO of SPEAR2Lead from Washington, DC
Orela Desiree Anani is SPEAR2Lead’s Founder & CEO, with a BA in Communication and Women’s Studies Certificate from the University of Maryland, College Park. SPEAR2Lead is a Multilingual Career Consulting, Professional Development, and Communication Firm. Ms. Anani believes everyone should “Successfully Prepare, Envision, Achieve, & Reclaim (SPEAR) to Lead.” As a Business, Society, and Economy Scholar, she curated entrepreneurial & leadership skills. Ms. Anani has cultivated niches in education and consultation, providing various services to over 2,000 clients, while working with major organizations including: the United States Department of Agriculture, the International Monetary Fund, and the United States Department of Homeland Security. spear2lead.com.
Zachary Witman, CEO of Grow Squares from Brooklyn New York
Zachary is a strategic and financial leader with over a dozen years’ experience in the capital markets. Prior to founding GrowSquares, he worked in Investment Banking roles at PetskyPrunier and FBR Capital Markets before taking on a number of product roles within the hedge fund sector. Zachary received his B.S. in Financial Engineering and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and did his post-grad work in Econometrics and Game Theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zachary founded Brooklyn-based GrowSquares to take the guesswork out of gardening. growsquares.com.
Zhelinrentice Scott, The SEO Queen from Long Beach California
Zhelinrentice L. Scott, The SEO Queen, is a creative, yet technical marketing & search engine optimization coach who achieves authentic success through building credible, visible, and profitable brands. She is the Chief Digital Strategist for the Seo Services company TSQ Marketing Inc. With an MIT degree in the science of information technology management, Zhe is a sought after digital marketing partner who procures tangible results for client companies. Wins on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are transparently tracked, monitored, and evaluated. Return on Investment is always considered when any digital marketing strategy is crafted. Zhe not only has her finger on the pulse of today’s ever shifting tech scene, but also offers a credible track record. She has 20+ years experience in business development and entrepreneurial experience. www.theseoqueen.net.
Libby Rapkin and Lisa Thompson, Founders of Blu Wave Well Being from Midland Michigan
Libby Rapin and Lisa Thompson together have a combined 18+ years of experience leading human resources and communication teams in both start-up and enterprise level organizations. After reaching the point of burnout and exhaustion, their journeys to wellbeing led them to rediscover the childlike wonder of playfulness to help them heal. They both began to thrive and experience the fullness of life as they confidently and boldly learned to live with a playful spirit. This is why BluWave exists; to help people experience wellbeing by embodying a playful mindset. Their mission is to positively impact employee engagement and workplace culture by empowering people to embrace a playful mindset and spirit. bluwavewellbeing.com
Ileana Del Risco, Founder/COO of Vitruvian from Miami Florida
Ileana is the COO and Co-founder of Vitruvian. She is currently a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Finance and Marketing. Ileana teamed up with her sisters, an engineer and textile developer, to solve one of the biggest pain points in apparel ecommerce. Together, they have combined their diverse skill-sets to build Vitruvian, a software technology company that’s creating a virtual dressing room to help consumers find the right fit when shopping for clothing online. www.vitruvianvdr.com
Susan Clayton, Inventor/Owner of WhitePaws RunMittes
from Baltimore Maryland
Susan Clayton, Inventor/Owner of WhitePaws RunMitts, could never find mittens or gloves that kept her fingers and thumbs warm when running in cold weather, so she invented one. WhitePaws RunMitts are a patented mitten design. Susan co-owns a successful salon in Baltimore, Md., so when starting a new business, she knows how to rebound and pivot. Due to Covid-19, she did just that and produced face mask geared to runners. She has gotten national recognition in several publications and is one of only 2 Black Owned outdoor gear companies in the US. runmitts.com
Linda Bell, Founder of Bell Tech Communications, LLC
from Flint Michigan
Dell Communications is an American Sign Language (ASL) communication application developed by Linda Bell. Bell Tech Communications will be the first app of its kind, specializing in live written, visual, and audio translations between deaf and hearing individuals. JUST IMAGINE Your Deaf child being able to actively participate in a discussion at Family meals, and the smiles when they can easily converse with friends, socially and at school without depending on anyone to interpret for them. Watch your children make friends by interacting socially, while keeping pace with their peers in public school systems. Just Imagine the positive personal growth and confidence this type of social engagement would create for any child. belltechcomm.com
Anton Babushkin, CEO of StartMyWellness from Troy Michigan
Anton Babushkin, PhD is the founder and CEO of StartMyWellness.com. Anton completed his PhD at Smith College and is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 businesses program. He is an adjunct instructor at Wayne State University's Social Work and Psychiatry departments. Anton is responsible for creating and managing the company strategy, coaching and mentoring the team, and expanding to new lines of business. In his free time, Anton enjoys traveling and dancing salsa. startmywellness.com
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do... Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
Please note the event start times vary according to time zone. 6pm Eastern Time. 5pm Central Time. 4pm Mountain. 3pm Pacific Time.