An annual pitch competition put on by the city of Houston named its big winners for this year.
The 11th annual Liftoff Houston Startup Business Plan Competition announced its three winners — and each will receive $10,000 in startup money. The winners are:
- Teria Johnson's e-commerce sweet and savory pies company, Charleston Kitchen
- Zoey Barker and Mohammadmehdi Mortazavi’s ExoBraced’s ExoBak, a light-weight exoskeleton to help with back pain and prevent injuries from manual workers
- Giovanni Garza’s Classic Borrego Retail, which offers high-end cowboy boots.
There were nine finalists that were selected from over 100 applicants and competed in Liftoff’s Pitch Day on November 18, where they were ranked on service, product, and innovation after pitching their businesses to a panel of expert judges.
In the event’s 11 years, 33 winners started businesses in the fields of merchandise/retail, software,education, hardware, hospitality, health and wellness, finance, technology,consulting, and logistics. The yearly event is sponsored by Capital One Bank and administered by the Houston Public Library and the Office of Business Opportunity. Liftoff Houston’s results have reflected the diversity of the city.
“The program is especially significant as data collected from recent competitions shows Liftoff Houston made an impact on populations that have been historically marginalized,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner in a news release. “More than 90 percent of participants identified as people of color, more than 70 percent were female, 44 percent had no college degree, and 54 percent earned less than $50,000 a year.”
Runners received $500 each. They are:
- Francesca Bonaduc’e De Nigris: Intrecci by Francesca collaborates with artisans around the world, to deliver one-of-a-kind handmade rugs.
- Diana Tudela and Hailee Trombley’s The Goodest Goodbye: a pet aftercare company that uses cutting-edge technology and environmentally conscious efforts.
- Diane Nguyen’s Flourishing Nexus LLC: a virtual platform that unites health professionals worldwide.
“Liftoff Houston – and our finalists – have also made it this far because of our workshop partners, all who have given us the invaluable gift of their time,” says OBO Director Marsha Murray in a news release. “The business, financial, legal and marketing education they have provided has allowed our participants to plan a roadmap to their success, including the creation of viable business plans.”