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Brooklyn library competition awards 19 winners

Founders of Human Root, Kimberly Glanville, left, and Ben Howort, took the $15,000 prize at the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition.
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The 13th PowerUP! Business Plan Competition awarded three competitors with top prizes for their business plans at Brooklyn Central Library on Dec. 6.

Some 19 entrepreneurs submitted twelve business plans to judges for the final round of the annual competition. The prizes included the top award and first place winning prize of $15,000, and two second-place prizes of $5,000 each, and $1,000 awarded to the remaining runners-up.

Placing first were Kimberly Glanville and Ben Howart, the creators of The Human Root, a company that will bring services and programs to schools and corporations, connecting people despite cultural differences. One of the second place winners said being awarded for an idea she intended to work on for the previous competition was extremely rewarding.

“It’s very exciting — I had gone through this last year and then had water damage on my computer, so I wasn’t able to submit,” said Renee Edwards, founder of Never Underestimate Beauty, a vegan makeup company. “This year the process has been a lot more methodical and just more thought out, and exactly what I needed to work on in expanding my business and making sure I still have the soul in my business — because it’s really important to me that when I think about my business it’s also a lifestyle.”

Edwards plans to the use her prize money on packaging for her products, she said.

The annual contest, which started in 2003, provides hopeful entrepreneurs based in Brooklyn with the opportunity to fund their start-ups and business ideas by presenting them with access to free courses and the tools needed to start a business. Since the start of the competition, more than 6,700 business plans have been submitted.

Runner-up winners Angela Azorer and David Dean, founders of Everything Jiggy, an online thrift shop for children’s clothing, said even though they did not win any top prizes, their recognition was a testament to their hard work and unique idea.

“This year in general was rough and to add in the competition, there were definitely times we were unsure of it,” said Dean.

They submitted their plan one minute shy of the deadline, and were excited to learn they were finalists.

“We were missing a couple of things because we didn’t add everything we wanted to include, I was feeling kind of defeated a little bit,” said Dean. “But we just sent it in, so this feels really good.”

Both Dean and Azorer advise anyone interested in starting a business to avoid depending on friends and family for validation, and focus on learning more about the business field and their target audience.

“As far as research, know who your audience is and really understand them,” said Azorer. “Because you can’t just depend on your friends, but also don’t let that discourage you if they’re not the ones supporting you off the bat. Once you have an audience you’re trying to reach, they will be your champions.”

With a little backup with their prize money, they will begin introducing Everything Jiggy to Brooklyn by participating in pop-up shops, flea markets, and festivals, including the Crown Heights Winter Festival.

“Crown Heights Winter Fest” at PS 221 [791 Empire Blvd between Troy and Schenectady avenues in Crown Heights, www.seedsinthemiddle.org. Dec. 15, 4–8 pm and Dec. 17, 11 am–4 pm.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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