October 25, 2023– Newark, NJ –As an entrepreneur, it’s important to have a business pitch. However, perfecting your pitch is equally as important. Whether you’re seeking funding from investors or attracting potential client

s, a compelling pitch will pave the way for business success. Our first GNEC Main Street Pitch-Off Competition was a testament to the creativity, ideas, and drive exhibited by talented entrepreneurs. We are proud to share the highlights from our Pitch Competition and introduce the winners.

To prepare for the competition, seven entrepreneurs practiced their pitch during two free coaching sessions with Victor Salama, Executive Director, GNEC and C.J. Meenan, Co-founder, Startup Labs. Coaches shared feedback and practical tips to help entrepreneurs enhance their pitch. Entrepreneurs were happy to share their experiences from our coaching sessions.

Play the video to watch Coaching Testimonials

Each entrepreneur presented their pitch in front of five judges:

  • Judith Sheft, GNEC Board Member, and Executive Director NJ Commission on Science Innovation, and Technology at New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) 
  • Avi Telyas, GNEC Board Member and Founder, Makerhoods
  • Vishal Daftaur, Vice President, Business Banker, Citizens Financial Group
  • Birdia Chambers, Founder & CEO, Epic Transformation
  • Ken Bland, Director, Community Engagement, Nonprofit Finance Fund

Judges diligently listened to each business pitch, asked thought-provoking questions, and engaged in productive dialogue with each entrepreneur. Judges then evaluated the criteria and gave each entrepreneur a final score. 

We’re proud to highlight the winners of our Pitch-Off Competition. Congratulations to our:

First Place Winner: SaVonne Anderson, Aya Paper Co.

Second Place Winner: Sierra Hooshiari, BrainPOP

Third Place Winner: Johe Afanador, JAMS Group

These remarkable entrepreneurs are proof that with determination, creativity, and a compelling pitch, anyone can transform their vision into reality.

Hear more from our winners as they share their experiences in the Pitch Competition. 

Stay tuned for updates on our next Pitch-Off Competition and future events and initiatives as we continue to celebrate and support entrepreneurs.

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