A number of local entrepreneurs competed for a chance to win funding and services to help with their business ideas at the second annual Start Me Up challenge at Bucks County Community College.
The live pitching event took place at the Gene and Marlene Epstein Lower Bucks Campus on Veterans Highway in Bristol Township.
The contest, which is in its second year, strives to give young entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business ideas and receive money and resources that can make their dream a reality. This year’s theme of social entrepreneurship aimed to foster ideas that will give back to the community in some way.
“At Bucks, we are really focused on instilling the importance of problem solving,” said Tracy Timby, dean of business at the college.
The contest gives students the experience of pitching their ideas. The Start Me Up Challenge included three Bucks students, two students from Wilkes University, and one student from Holy Ghost prep.
“The Start Me Up Challenge at our community college is a wonderful way for people in the community to present their ideas so that everyone can benefit,” said event judge and businessman Gene Epstein.
Dan Dogba, a community college business student from Penndel, started his business DRIP as a high school senior in 2015. The custom clothing company customizes items and gives back by helping needy populations, he said.
“We want to be the company that puts a smile on your face, and we always want to give back,” Dogba said.
“It was a huge honor to see that someone was interested in my idea,” he added.
Schuyler Cauley, a 16-year-old student at Holy Ghost Preparatory School, is the owner of SC Cards, which creates handmade cards for various occasions. The company gives 5 percent of its proceeds to charities working to help those suffering from depression.
Cauley entered the contest because he wanted a way to legitimize his business.
“I’m just really excited and honored to be a part of this,” Cauley said.
Georgie Neuber, a Bucks student from Langhorne, presented her concept of Ready, Set, Blow. The service would bring affordable blow dry services to gyms so that women could conveniently get hair washed and blow dried after a workout.
“We wanted to bring a high-end service to the middle class,” Neuber said.
The service is available at the Newtown Athletic Club, but Ready, Set, Blow would make the service much more accessible in the area.
Shakirah Baker, a community college student from Levittown, is working in a group of about six people to bring a sports and recreation center to Levittown.
“This is a way to keep our kids off of the street,” Baker said.
When the sports seasons at school end, there are not many options for local sports. Kids who want to play usually need to travel, and that just isn’t an option for everyone, Baker explained.
Anthony Prato and Rachel Hodgins are Wilkes University students who founded Xenoil, LLC. The company is focused on recycling difficult to recycle plastics to reduce waste.
“To be here is awesome, we are really glad to be here and be a part of this community,” Prato said.
The multiple businesses were evaluated by a crew of local business people who helped determine the winner.
Anthony Prato and Rachel Hodgins took first place, winning $3,000 for their business. Georgie Neuber took second and received $2,000 for her business and Dan Dogba received third place and $1,000 for his business. Schuyler Cauley and Shakirah Baker tied for fourth and fifth and received a number of consultations and desk space with local companies.