2021 National Virtual Pitch Contest Part II

10 Entrepreneurs will Compete to Win Cash & Prizes

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These are just a few words to describe the entrepreneurs who will compete in the 2021 National Virtual Pitch Contest Part II presented by the National Entrepreneurs Association and Dell Technologies, August 18th at 5pm Eastern Time on Zoom. We are excited to have Comerica join us this year as a sponsor.


Contestants from across the U.S. will pitch their business ideas in three minutes for a chance to win their share of over $7,500 in cash and prizes. Contestants will have an opportunity to receive  pitch coaching prior to the contest.

This Pitch Contest was created because it takes more than just money to succeed. This event provides entrepreneurs with a variety of essential tools to take their businesses to the next level. With national exposure, mentoring, funding, a new computer and a community of supporters, the sky is the limit. 

Top 5 Reasons to Attend!

  • See and Hear Amazing Pitches

  • Support Your Fellow Entrepreneurs

  • Learn from the Best

  • Connect with Top Professionals

  • Help Us Choose a Winner

First place winner will receive a $2000 cash prize, a free Dell computer and a one year membership to the National  Entrepreneurs Association! (judges choice)

Second place winner will receive a $1000 cash prize, a free Dell computer and a one year membership to the National  Entrepreneurs Association! (judges choice)

Third place winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a free Dell computer and a one year membership to the National Entrepreneurs Association. (audience choice)

*Please note event start times vary according to time zone. 

Event Organizer & Moderator

ZaLonya Allen, PhD, President of National Entrepreneurs Association

Dr. ZaLonya Allen is President/CEO of the National Entrepreneurs Association where she produces events for entrepreneurs. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has over 20 years of direct experience in entrepreneurship and event planning. Dr. Allen uses that experience to bring original content driven programs to entrepreneurs. 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 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 helping students achieve their dreams of a college education.

Dell Technologies Speaker

Sidney Duckworth, Business Development Manager at Dell

Sidney has been with Dell Technologies for two and a half years, where she is a Business Development Manager on the Strategic Partnership team. She fosters relationships between industry associations and Dell, striving to help small business owners confidently navigate the right technology solutions, custom fit for their needs. Sidney attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, but now calls Austin, Texas, home. In her free time, Sidney can be found exploring local swimming holes, making a charcuterie board, or playing with her cat, Lulu.

Meet Our Kickoff Speaker

DeAndre Carter, Motivational Speaker and Author of Demand Greatness

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DeAndre Carter will kickoff the event with a powerful message of inspiration. DeAndre is a proud father, award winning speaker, corporate trainer, author, and entrepreneur.  He has become recognized as a motivational force as he challenges people to demand greatness every step in life.


DeAndre comes from humble beginnings. His dedication to personal excellence inspired him to become the first person in his family to graduate from a four year university. His degree from Michigan State University is a testament to his resilience and ability to thrive despite the presence of adverse circumstances.


DeAndre has been defined as powerful, progressive and innovative. As an entrepreneur his mission is to challenge society as he creates new learning platforms and tirelessly works with institutions and corporations to promote excellence. “Success is yours” is the reality that DeAndre lives by and he will stop at nothing to ensure he shares this reality with the world. 

Meet Our Keynote Speaker

Deana Neely, Founder and CEO of Detroit Voltage

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Deana Neely has over 10 years of experience in construction and has established herself as an industry insider and valuable partner that delivers excellence and consistently exceeds expectations. Deana is also a licensed electrical contractor, founder, and CEO of Detroit Voltage. Detroit Voltage is a certified Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) electrical contracting firm headquartered in Detroit – offering both residential and commercial services. 


She has been featured and recognized by companies such as Google, Essence, and DTE Energy. Her rapid growth and continued profitability have catapulted her onto the national stage. Deana took on the role of a public speaker and educator with intention and grace. She has a program launching soon to guide women through the process of launching a well-built construction company.


Deana is a dedicated single mom to two amazing children who are ready to make their own mark in the construction world. Together they are creating their future and making Detroit a brighter place to live.

During this inspirational keynote Deana will discuss how she quickly ascended in construction, a male dominated field where only 10% of workers are women. 

National Pitch Contest Judges

Jerry Scrivo - Chief Judge

Chairman of National Entrepreneurs Association White Lake, Michigan

Sidney Duckworth

Strategic Partnerships

Dell Technologies Small Business

Austin, Texas

Terrance F Henderson

Senior VP, Deputy General Counsel Personal & Commercial Banking Comerica Bank in Dallas, Texas

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Dr. Loralyn Mears

STEERus CEO & 1st Place Winner

NEA Dell National Virtual Pitch

New York City

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Candice Pretty Stringz Smith

Violinist & Popular Vote Winner

  NEA Dell National Virtual Pitch

Detroit, Michigan

Top 10 National Finalists

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Chantele R. Jones, Chef & Owner
Estella's Vegan Cuisine & Desserts in 
Detroit, Michigan

Chef, food educator, and owner of Estella's Vegan Cuisine and Desserts, Chantele Jones, has made it her mission to spread the plant-based gospel and it's many health benefits. After overcoming her own health challenges by changing her diet her goal is to dispel myths that following a vegan diet is expensive, complicated, and flavorless. Chantele does this by hosting monthly restaurant pop up’s, providing catering services and offering cooking classes to educate her community on the benefits of plant based eating. Her next venture begins this fall when she opens up the first all vegan bakery in the city of Detroit- Estellas Vegan Dessert Boutique. You can follow her progress via Instagram and Facebook. To Learn more visit her website at estellascuisine.com

Patricia Garcia, Founder/CEO
College Thrifts in Miami Florida

Patricia Garcia is an incoming graduate student at the University of Southern California (USC) pursuing a degree in Product Development Engineering. She is passionate about utilizing a systems perspective to collaborate across disciplines and designing innovative, human-centered solutions to various societal challenges. 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 lasting mentorship opportunities. Being able to translate technical success into market success by understanding the users has resulted in various media features, including in NASDAQ,  and the ability to represent her hometown of Miami on a national platform. To learn more visit her website at collegethrifts.com

Candace Cox Wimberley, Founder/CEO
I Am A Genius in Detroit, Michigan

Candace Cox-Wimberley is an enlightened entrepreneur, award winning author, and the spirit-filled CEO of I am A Genius.  She’s a fierce youth advocate, internationally acclaimed inspirational speaker and gifted leader. Candace is also the founder of She’s A Genius nonprofit organization which empowers girls and young women with programs designed to provide exposure to the arts and entrepreneurship, advocacy for higher education, and support to single parent household families. Candace believes in the significance of empowering individuals and communities through education and love. Candace was raised in Detroit and graduated from the illustrious Cass Technical High School. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and master’s degree from University of Michigan. She is a multi-award-winning influencer and has been featured on PBS, national television networks and radio outlets. To learn more visit iamagenius.net

Steve Strangio, Game Creator
Zone Ball Sport, LLC in Long Beach, New York

Steve Strangio is a professional game creator, producer, writer and on-air talent with more than 20-years in the business.  Zone Ball is just one of three sports that he has on the market, with many more in development. Zone Ball was created as an all-gender alternative aimed at promoting teamwork amongst players.  It is currently being played in the U.S. and internationally by people of all ages. Steve plans to take Zone Ball to the next level by creating leagues, streaming shows, and traveling tours. There are also plans to create leagues on all types of playing surfaces such as turf, wood court, beach, and even a version for wheelchair athletes! With a well-rounded background in the entertainment and sports fields—including a stint in the WWE, which utilized his skills in both areas—Steve is looking forward to bringing this fun-filled and unique sport to all! To learn more visit zoneballsport.com

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Ophelia Brinkley, Founder/CEO 
Creative Emajinations in Kanas City, Missouri  

Ophelia Brinkley is the Founder and CEO of Creative Emajinations. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She started her career majoring in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in 2016. Her inspiration came from working with youth for over 20 years. For 8 years she worked as a Girl Scout Leader. Ms. Brinkley found her passion in 2019 when she saw that underserved youth did not have access to safe places to express their artistic talents. She believes in supporting and inspiring youth to reach their full potential through the Art of Music and Dance. To learn more about Ophelia Brinkley and Creative Emajinations visit her website at www.creativeemajinations.org

Babatunde Ajao, Founder/CEO
True Given in Boston, Massachusetts 

Babatunde Ajao is the founder and CEO at True Given, where he supports non-profits, businesses, and philanthropic organizations in providing their network with easy access to cash grants. Before True Given, Babatunde worked as an Innovation Strategist at Commonwealth. He concentrated his efforts on discovering, designing, and piloting innovations to help financially vulnerable people become financially secure and access financial opportunities. Before joining Commonwealth, Babatunde spent several years volunteering in the Marshall Islands, where he taught Math, English, Chemistry, and Business Math to high school students. Babatunde has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Randolph College and a Master's in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute. When Babatunde is not working on True Given, he can be found playing soccer with friends, hiking, or sleeping in a hammock. Babatunde is available for collaborative projects as well as private consultations. To learn more visit truegiven.com

Tisha Hammond, Small Business Cheerleader
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 the system to get you seen on stages and in pages. 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 her own stage and media appearances, Tisha is the Chief Community Activator at Career Mastered Magazine, an active Board Leader, and a passionate Broadway fanatic. Her #ascentmediapro team has heard you loud and clear and has developed a signature ‘Lights, Camera, Action…Getting You Ready for the Media Spotlight’ training program. 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. Visit tishahammond.com.

Blake Stoner, Founder/CEO 
Vngle, LLC in Atlanta Georgia

Blake Stoner is the founder of Vngle, a blockchain-based grassroots news network training citizens to bring "various angles" of verifiable equitable coverage to underrepresented areas. After joining the NAACP to fight injustices happening in Ferguson, MO, Blake uncovered numerous more cases of police brutality that weren't being reported. Blake realized Ferguson, like other underrepresented cities, is in a news desert. To address that, Blake created Vngle to curb this crisis that’s leaving 64%+ of Americans without daily original local reporting. Stoner holds a BA in Economics from Morehouse College and an MS in Strategic Communication from Columbia University. He’s led Vngle through Mozilla’s Fix-the-Internet Incubator, Envision Accelerator, and DivInc’s Social Justice Innovation Accelerator. Blake serves as a Board Member of the Columbia Venture Community and has been a Harvard Franklin Fellow for Social Impact x Tech, a Human-Centered Design Leader at Columbia's Design Studio, and an Oprah Winfrey International Fellow. To learn more visit www.vngle.com

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Alyssa Space, Owner
For Her Cosmetics in Detroit, Michigan

Alyssa Space is the owner of ForHerCosmetics, the premier makeup brand helping Her bring out the natural beauty within. Alyssa believes in celebrating and embracing individuality while offering her customers a variety of quality natural, vegan, and cruelty-free products and services. Along with creating beauty products that are suitable for all shades, she strives to give more children, especially girls exposure to science through her non profit MySpaceLaboratories, that offers a STEM Enrichment program “Chemistry in Cosmetics”. Which has been featured with the YMCA of Detroit, the Michigan Science Center, Build A Dream in Canada, The Rhonda Walker Foundation, several Detroit Public Schools and more. She focuses on increasing the retention of young children in science related fields through alternative exploration, cosmetics and inclusion. Alyssa graduated from Michigan State University with her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and now utilizes her skill set in her formulation lab located in Detroit. To learn more visit www.forhercosmetics.com.

Ashley Adams, Owner
Simple Dot Natural in Taylor, Michigan  

My name is Ashley Adams and I am the owner of Simple Dot Natural, a company that provides all natural skin care solutions. After my daughter was diagnosed with eczema and given a medication with steroids I wanted to find another way. With this in mind, our company was founded to provide products that are simple, yet effective, with no chemicals and additives. Our aim is to transform skin using plant based ingredients you can trust. I also instill the importance of consistency on your journey to relief by naming our products after times of day like “9PM” to remind you that “healing takes time”. If you are ready for a journey to healthier skin join us and enjoy a simple, natural solution to the way you heal your skin. To learn more visit simpledotnatural.com

National Pitch Contest Coaches

Dr. ZaLonya Allen

Professional Speaker and Coach

ZaLonya Allen International

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Joel M. Bongard

Senior Vice President 

Comerica Bank

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Patricia Otman

Senior Vice President

Comerica Bank

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Van Allen

Motivational Speaker & Founder

Van Allen Productions


Dr. Janice Cardwell

CEO and Founder

Conceivers, LLC

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John R. Shoup

Senior Vice President

Comerica Bank


Event Agenda

Welcome/Introductions – ZaLonya Allen, PhD

Dell Technologies – Sidney Ducksworth

Association Announcements

Kickoff Speaker – DeAndre Carter

Pitch Contest – Finalists Pitch

Audience Vote / Judges Deliberate

Keynote Speaker – Deana Neely

Announcement of Winners


Sponsored by

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*For information about other NEA events visit our events page at www.nationalentrepreneurs.org/events