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Rising Tide Capital Announces 10 Finalists to Pitch Live for $10,000

Start Something Challenge Grand Finale to take place on August 4

July 28, 2014 (Jersey City) — Today, 10 New Jersey entrepreneurs saw their hard work pay off when they learned about their progression to the final round of the Start Something Challenge (SSC) business pitch competition hosted by Rising Tide Capital (RTC). The semifinal round, which ended yesterday at noon, involved public viewing and voting of the 30 semifinalists’ business videos on the SSC website. During the Grand Finale ten finalists will pitch their business ideas live before a panel of expert judges for the opportunity to win $22,500 in cash prizes for their business.

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The 2013 SSC Finalists gather with Mayor Steve Fulop after delivering their business pitches in front of a live audience at the Grand Finale.

The mission of the competition is to encourage entrepreneurs to utilize online and offline marketing tools to promote their businesses and increase customer engagement. This year, the 30 semi-finalists used a variety of social media tactics, email marketing, text messaging campaigns and some even placed articles in their local media channels to not only promote their SSC videos but also their small businesses. In total, the semi-finalists garnered 13,682 votes while the initial 74 SSC participates received a total of 27,232 views on their Youtube videos in the first round.

“Entrepreneurs’ social networks have become increasingly important in business, and this is a trajectory that we don't foresee shifting anytime soon. This is why we designed the Start Something Challenge—to encourage and empower entrepreneurs to rally their networks in support of their businesses. I was so impressed by the creativity and tenacity of this year’s semi-finalists! While I am happy for everyone who progressed to the finals, I know that every entrepreneur making it to this point has grown some valuable skills that will take them far in their business journeys,” said Esther Fraser director of communications at Rising Tide Capital.

The Grand Finale and live pitch will take place at New Jersey City University on August 4 to determine the three winners who will be recognized and be awarded $22,500 in cash prizes at Start Something Champions Gala on November 13. Rising Tide Capital will offer each finalist one-on-one coaching with business experts during a 3-hour pitch tutorial to assist them in perfecting their 6-minute business pitch.

The judges include Paula L. Alford, COO of NuSplash; Luis De La Hoz Vice President, Lending Team of The Intersect Fund; Steve Gomez, Executive Director of Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation; Hugo Morales, (Interim) Director of Marketing at New Jersey City University; Coretta Owusu, 2014 Winner of the Start Something Challenge, and owner of aSuiteStay; Alex Patterson, VP of Brand of Tough Mudder, LLC; Jeff Platt, Head of Marketing for Animoto for Business; Judith Sheft, Associate Vice President, Technology Department of New Jersey Institute of Technology; Andaiye Taylor, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of and Rachel Greenwald, Program Manager, New Business Opportunities of Etsy


2014 Start Something Challenge Finalists:

Fashion & Beauty
Joanna Chmarzewska, Crazy for Italia -Jersey City
Ninotchka Johnson, Top Notch By Design- Browns Mills

Arts, Crafts & Entertainment
Dawn McLaughlin, Positively Publishing- North Bergen
Kimberly Sumpter, Wax Kandy- Jersey City

Ronald Mirante, Bone In- Jersey City
Alysis Vasquez, The Chilltown Kitchen -Jersey City

Public, Social & Health
Lenore Holz, Liberty Kite Flying Tours -Jersey City
Caley Vickerman, Guerilla Haiku Movement -Jersey City

Other Professional Services
Chrishan Wright, WE Biz -Maplewood
Jason Hall, JH Pestaway- Belleville

The Start Something Challenge (SSC) is a statewide pitch competition and business strengthening opportunity for New Jersey entrepreneurs. The Challenge is funded by visionary supporters and organized by Rising Tide Capital, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses. To ensure that every participant has a chance to win the $10,00 top prize, Rising Tide Capital provides each entrant with hands-on coaching and mentorship. Free to enter, the competition is open to any New Jersey resident 18 years or older, who operates a microbusiness or has a strong business idea. In 2013, 108 entrepreneurs from 38 towns and cities representing 13 counties in New Jersey completed applications for the Start Something Challenge.

To learn more, visit

Rising Tide Capital (RTC) is a Jersey City-based nonprofit organization founded in 2004 by Harvard graduates Alex Forrester and Alfa Demmellash. RTC helps entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses by providing a 12-week Community Business Academy—supplemented by year-round workshops, coaching and networking events. These programs are currently offered in Spanish and in English in four cities across Northern New Jersey: Jersey City, Newark, Union City, and Orange Township. As of January, 838 entrepreneurs have graduated from the CBA and together, they operate over 403 businesses in New Jersey. RTC’s model of entrepreneurship development has received national recognition from President Obama to CNN Heroes.

To learn more, visit  


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