2021 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 2021 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 $2000 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. 5pm Eastern Time. 4pm Central Time. 3pm Mountain. 2pm Pacific Time.
Meet the Event Organizer & 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.
Matthew Papendorf of Dell Technologies
OEM Manager for Dell Security
Topic: "Developing Your Security Foundation"
Matthew has been the North America OEM Brand Manager for Dell Security for the past 5 years. Partnering with the internal product management teams, he’s established a winning track record for improving knowledge and sales of endpoint security at Dell. Matthew will take a brief look into current threat trends in cyber security and the online Wi-Fi landscape. Understand how the our now current remote work environment is a breeding ground for hacker activity and five simple steps and practices one can take to secure themselves and their data. Finally, we will also hear from Mona Besleaga Business Development Manager at Dell Technologies
Meet Our Distinguished Judges
Florence Ordesh, Actress, Entrepreneur and Social Media Expert
Florence Ordesh is an actress, entrepreneur, and social media expert. She has a diploma in performing arts from The Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts, an MBA from Trinity College Dublin, and a Post Grad in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute. In 2012, Florence set up her first business, Ireland Actors Guide, which has since been rebranded as CastandHire.
Florence's first TV appearance was in 2012, as Allie in the mini-series Saor Sinn o Olc. Since then, she has been working on both sides of the Atlantic in film and television. Most recently as lead, “Rose Tate” in Global TV's #1 trending show 'Departure,' alongside Kris Holden-Ried, Oscar winner Christopher Plummer and Emmy winner Archie Panjabi; in 'Foundation,' Skydance Television's original drama for Apple TV+ starring Jared Harris and Lee Pace; and 'Dublin Murder' which screened on Starz!, RTE and BBC. Florence is also a writer and director and is currently working on her own indie film soon to be in development. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3932437/
Paul Glantz, Chairman and Co-Founder of Emagine Entertainment
Glantz is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Troy, Michigan-based theatre chain Emagine Entertainment, Inc. Glantz has raised over $150 million in capital to develop eleven world-class entertainment venues and in doing so has brought his concept of exemplary entertainment experience to reality. Glantz is regarded as an expert in the cinematic exhibition industry. He has been at the forefront of technological change in the theatre industry by leading the transition to high-definition digital presentation being among the first to deploy “4K” digital projectors, opening Michigan’s first all-laser projection theatre, by introducing Dolby’s revolutionary Atmos(TM) sound systems to the Michigan marketplace, and by building some of the nation’s largest premium large-format movie screens: Emagine’s Super EMAX auditoriums.
Glantz holds a BS degree in Business Administration with high distinction from Wayne State University and a MS degree in taxation from Walsh College. He has been recognized by Wayne State’s Business School which awarded him its Distinguished Alumnus Award, by Wayne State’s Irvin D. Reid Honors College which named him its first-ever “Pillar Award” recipient, by Ernst & Young as a Michigan and Northwest Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year, and by Walsh College with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Natasha Lee-Maxwell, Founder of That Girl and MYDCT
A creative professional & business enthusiast, Natasha Lee-Maxwell is a Business Consultant and CEO of "MYDCT" and Founder of "That Girl" who has taken the business world by storm. She has been featured on such prominent media outlets such as ABC, NBC, CBC, FOX, Detroit News, Crain's, Live in the D, Essence Magazine and more. Natasha created That Girl to celebrate and support the success of women from youth to adulthood and beyond, empowering them through fashion, TV, social media, education and events. Natasha is best known for making business dreams a reality and global community initiatives especially those geared toward girls and women.
Ileana Del Risco, CMO and COO of Vitruvian Virtual Dressing Room
Ileana Del Risco is CMO and COO of Vitruvian based in Florida, Ileana manages Vitruvian’s business operations. She is currently a senior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Finance and Marketing and has experience with market research financial analysis and UX Design. 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. Her company has won numerous awards including the "Audience Vote Winner" at the 2020 National Virtual Pitch Contest presented by the National Entrepreneurs Association and Dell Technologies.
Ross Sanders, MBA Manager of Corporate Partnerships at Lawrence Tech University
Ross Sanders is the Manager of Corporate Partnerships at Lawrence Technological University (LTU). Prior to joining the university, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Bizdom, where he launched one of the first startup accelerators ever to operate in Detroit and Cleveland. He led this non-profit to mentor 80 tech-based startups, assist in raising $17 million in startup investment, provide over 550 startup events, raise over $20 million in donations, and played a leading role in revitalizing these two cities. As an executive team member of Quicken Loans, one of the nation’s largest online lenders and best places to work, he created the first team dedicated to continuous process improvement within the company, opened 18 retail branch locations across six states, and led the relocation of the company’s headquarters. Ross has a Masters in Business Administration from Wayne State University, a Bachelors in Business Administration from Michigan State University, a Six Sigma Black Belt certification, and has been recognized as one of the top 100 leaders advancing technology innovation in Detroit.
2021 National Virtual Pitch Contestants
Dr. Loralyn Mears
Founder/CEO of STEERus in River Vale, New Jersey
Loralyn Mears, PhD began her path determined to advance science by eradicating mosquitoes and the transmission of malaria. Along the way, she learned that she preferred sharing information, guiding others, innovating, and solving problems versus being at the bench. So, she went to the "Dark Side" and chased a career in the commercial aspects of science and technology as an executive leader for a few Fortune 100's and several startups. She’s authored two books, one, a Gold Medal Indie Book winner (One Sip at a Time: a Memoir) and the other, a hard science thriller (The Battle for Humanity – How Science Saved Us) about COVID which predicted many of the events that transpired 2020-2021. As a self-proclaimed STEMinist and advocate for girls and equal access to education, she has founded STEERus – home of the world’s first Soft Skills Academy. www.steerus.io
Jurnee Carr Stout
Creator of "The Queen's Magnet" in Johnson City, Tennessee
As a former Miss Teen International and Miss U.S., Jurnee Carr Stout loved competing on the pageant stage but did not love putting safety pins through her outfits to secure contestant numbers and sashes. The Queen’s Magnet, a super strong bling magnet, is her creation that holds fabrics together while looking fabulous! The Queen’s Magnet is not only for beauty queens, but also for name tags on blazers, bibs on running hear and much more. No stranger to a microphone, Jurnee uses her voice for those who only have a bark or meow. She founded the Jurnee’s Journey Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, and launched a spay/neuter voucher program for pet families. A portion of every sale from The Queen’s Magnet goes back to help animals. Shine even brighter with The Queen’s Magnet! Visit www.TheQueensMagnet.com to choose from 60+ styles of bling magnets. www.thequeensmagnet.com
Founder of Ascent Small Business Promotion in Northville Michigan
Tisha Hammond leapt into entrepreneurship in 2015 and built the plane on her way down. Now, she’s building an app. She is known as “The Small Business CheerleaderTM” because of her enthusiasm for entrepreneurs. With a knack for tapping into human capital, she has mastered boosting membership in numerous business communities. She is the Bestselling author of Daily Devotional for Entrepreneurs: Your Season to Grow. In February 2021, her company, Ascent Small Business Promotion, LLC, was featured by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as a Black-owned Business who positively impacts Michigan’s economy and culture. In between stage and virtual appearances, Tisha Hammond is the Senior Copy Editor and a contributing writer for Career Mastered Magazine, an active community servant and Broadway fanatic. At home, Tisha enjoys life with her husband, Ken, their five children and many grands. One more thing…Tisha requires frequent forgiveness for breaking out in random show tunes.
Founder/CEO of Bonfire Live in Chicago Illinois
Vritti is founder and CEO of Bonfire Live, an artist-centric platform that sparks virtual connections between local independent artists and guests to create the magic of a live show but from the warmth and comfort of home. She founded Bonfire Live in May 2020 to help struggling artists who lost their entire livelihood due to the pandemic – it was driven by many first-hand experiences of artists that had lost all their gigs almost overnight and were struggling to survive. Prior to founding Bonfire Live, Vritti worked at Deloitte Consulting for two years where advised clients across a variety of topics within strategy and human capital. She is also a serial entrepreneur – she founded her first venture in college in 2015 (OHMYELE), which raised awareness of ivory poaching by donating a percentage of profits to organizations that protect elephants. www.bonfirealive.com
Jeana Harper Kirkland & Rhonda Johnson
CEO/Partner of Johnson & Harper Creations LLC in Detroit Michigan
Johnson and Harper Creations L.L.C’s premier patented product, the Torso Sweatband (TSB), provides comfort that solves breast care complications suffered by breast cancer radiation treatment patients and survivors. The use of the TSB drastically increases healing time, hope, and quality of life for those who suffer the negative effects of radiation therapy such as burning and peeling skin, and the rashes, chafing, odor, and fungus due to perspiration under and between the breasts. Radiation Oncologists in Michigan and across the USA already use and recommend the TSB to their patients. The TSB has the potential to help more than 270,000 new breast cancer patients and survivors in the USA alone and 8,800 in Michigan. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many breast cancer patients to postpone their essential care. Partnerships with breast cancer organizations will help highlight and bring about additional awareness regarding following through with their critical, life-saving care. www.torsosweatband.com
CEO/Founder of Complete Dominance Athletics in Detroit Michigan
As an entrepreneur and public speaker I can identify with some of the hardship that you have to go through to be successful. Walking in your purpose might not always be pretty but it's definitely worth it. As the CEO and Founder Complete Dominance Athletics and PutmanSpeaks my overall goal is to impact and inspire others to walk in their calling. Even though C.D.A. is an apparel manufacturing and sports and fitness wholesale company, our goal is to decrease the rate of obesity and diabetes. With my public speaking platform Putman Speaks, I challenge people to identify with their strengths as well as their weaknesses to be great with my Pillars for Success. As I have walked this journey I have been blessed to be a member of the following organizations (NMSDC, Detroit Regional Chambers, Detroit Young Professionals, Lets Detroit, and the SBDC). Outside of my businesses I also have a non-profit. Where we partner with schools and recreation centers to bring back skills trades, and other development programs. My vision is to be the Henry Ford of health, fitness, and sports. Built from the ground from Detroit, by Detroit, for Detroit, but known worldwide.
Founder/CEO of College Thrifts in Miami Florida
Patricia Garcia is a senior at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, FL spearheading the brand-new interdisciplinary engineering degree with a concentration in manufacturing engineering and minor in business management. She is passionate about utilizing a systems-perspective to collaborate across disciplines and designing innovative, human-centered solutions to various social challenges. During her research experience at UC Berkeley, she decided to nurture her entrepreneurial spirit and begin working towards the development of her startup focused on creating more inclusive and sustainable college campuses. She is the founder and CEO of “college thrifts”, an inclusive peer to peer platform for students/alumni to buy/sell their gently used college branded items and network amongst users. The "college thrifts" goal is to create more inclusive and sustainable institutions of higher education, supporting economic development amongst college students, and creating mentorship opportunities. Being able to translate technical success into market success by understanding the users has resulted in multiple pitch competition wins and features in various media publications within the past year including NASDAQ. www.collegethrifts.com
Candice "Pretty Stringz" Smith
Founder of Pretty Stringz, LLC in St Clair Shores Michigan
Candice “Pretty Stringz” Smith is an entrepreneur, educator and performing artist, known for her ability to illuminate stages all over the world. From the strum of her bow and strings to her contagious smile, she provides an unforgettable experience. Recognized as a versatile artist, she has graced the stage of Carnegie Hall, served as the entertainment for a NBA half-time show, featured in movie soundtracks and has opened for Grammy award winning artist. Furthermore, Candice’s work has been seen on Fox, CBS, WDIV, Michigan Chronicle and many more media outlets. After college, she returned to her old neighborhood in Detroit, MI to “pay it forward”. She is now an Orchestra instructor at Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts. Candice is dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to be bold in their purpose. www.iamprettystringz.com
Wanda N. Green
CEO of NolasSoapery, LLC in Philadephia, PA
Wanda Green is the CEO of Nolassoapery.com, a skin and body care line. She is a self-taught Artisan Soap Maker. Her business consists of handmade soaps, facial bars, natural deodorant, body oils milk baths, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bath salts, wax melts, beard pomades, beard oil. Wanda Green became a skincare consultant to make a difference in the world. She comes from a very different but familiar background to many. She wasn't always given the best in living as a child, but she definitely made the best out of a rocky situation. Skincare has become her love in this life. She loves being able to help people feel good from the inside out but the most gratifying is letting people understand that they are beautiful already. She believes she is a mere vessel guiding and helping people on their journey to see the full potential of beauty within and bring it to the forefront. www.nolassoapery.com
Founder of Life on Purpose Detroit in Ferndale Michigan
Doris Hage is an Intuitive Coach, Business Consultant, and Owner of Life on Purpose Detroit, LLC. She has guided and worked with hundreds of people assisting them to discover their core, eliminating life beliefs, other people’s energy, and getting people back to their own way of operating. She has spent over 12 years working in Higher Education – Post Secondary Trade Education, working with local unions, veterans, returning citizens, career transitioners, youth, and displaced adult workers. She has built a strong way of identifying the educational needs of others, through vocational training. She has developed multiple programs, workshops, classes, as well as teaching others on social issues inhibiting growth within a community or business. Her mission is to coach individuals to find purpose, increase their growth, and reach their highest potential. Through her coaching and experience, she has discovered there were three things that stop people from success. Fear, confidence, and circumstance. Once she is able to meet students where they are at and show them their own path, they succeed! www.lifeonpurposewithdoris.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. 5pm Eastern Time. 4pm Central Time. 3pm Mountain. pm Pacific Time.