ready to grow
Three local entrepreneurs have received a big lift from the City of Houston’s 2022 edition of the Liftoff Houston startup business plan competition. Each entrepreneur received a $10,000 cash prize.
Natasha Roberts won in the service category. She is the founder of ActIVate Drip Spa, which provides medical-grade IV drips that help eliminate toxins and aid hydration and recovery.
Hannah Le prevailed in the product category. Her startup, RE.STATEMENT, runs a marketplace for designers to upcycle old fashion into wearable art.
Aditya Aggarwal claimed victory in the innovation category. Her business, Maritime XR, aims to supplement conventional maritime training with virtual reality simulations.
“Liftoff Houston goes beyond the $10,000 grand prize that is awarded in each category. This program is also about business education, mentorship and networking — all of which are foundations of creating a successful business,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a news release.
All of the entrepreneurs who competed in Liftoff Houston attended nearly four months of workshops and met with business and financial mentors. Representatives of Capital One Bank and SCORE Houston their business plans. To devise their business plans, the entrepreneurs relied on free resources from the Houston Public Library and the city’s Office of Business Opportunity.
The winners were announced November 5. This year’s nine finalists were chosen from more than 160 applicants.
The other finalists in the service category were:
- Charmeyce Buck and Frerika Varlack of Ignite Diagnostic Solutions, a professional analytical laboratory.
- Kimberly Evans of the Coterie Wine Bar & Social Club, whose customers come from underserved communities.
The other finalists in the product category were:
- Suzanne Knobel of Bennie’s Old-Fashioned Ketchup, which produces small-batch ketchup made with fresh tomatoes.
- Stefanie Jones of Yvonne Beauty, a beauty retailer whose clients are Black women.
The other finalists in the innovation category were:
- Sean Carroll of Buffalo Seaweed, the first algae farm in Texas.
- Terri Nguyen of SHI Educational Properties, which builds affordable modular homes.