Rising Tide Capital Advances Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Innovation in New Jersey

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30 entrepreneurs advance to the semifinals of the 2016 Start Something Challenge

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Earlier this June at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, President Obama called for inclusive entrepreneurship--asking for business resources such as financial support and mentorship to be made more accessible--to level the playing field for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

Last night in Newark, 120 local political, business, and nonprofit leaders gathered at Newark Venture Partners for a local display of inclusive entrepreneurship. The 2016 Start Something Challenge (SSC), supported by funders such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, celebrated the kick-off of the SSC, an annual business pitch competition that empowers entrepreneurs from across the state of New Jersey to leverage the power of technology to grow their businesses.

Since 2012, the competition has been spearheaded by Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of families and communities through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs create a 30-second business commercial, promote their businesses through social media, and finally pitch live for the opportunity to win a share of more than $25,000 in cash awards and prizes.

“More than 100 entrepreneurs from 38 towns and cities all over New Jersey entered the Start Something Challenge this year,” noted Alfa Demmellash, CEO and co-founder of Rising Tide Capital. “They represent different business sectors, but more importantly they represent diverse backgrounds and demographics. By entering The Challenge, they’ve raised their hands to say, ‘I am an entrepreneur, and I am ready to grow my business and create opportunities for my family and community.’”

“We talk a lot about entrepreneurship in this country, but we forget to celebrate the businesses that aren’t the latest tech startups--the bakers, candle-makers, the artists, the businesses that improve our quality of life in a tangible way,” she added. “They are a part of the fabric of every community, and through The Start Something Challenge they are gaining visibility for their businesses, as well as access to new resources and opportunities to gain financial capital.”

Speakers at last nights event included Scott Blow, interim CEO of Newark CEDC; Elaine Helms, president of Helms Medical Services and the Essex County LGBT RAIN Foundation; Tal Lev, CFO & Partner at Newark Venture Partners; Kimberly Sumpter, founder of Wax Kandy; and Richard Fonte, New Jersey Business Banking Market Manager at JPMorgan Chase, who announced the 30 semi-finalists moving on in the competition.

“We are proud to support The Start Something Challenge because we know the vital role small businesses play in economic growth and inclusion,” noted Rich Fonte of JPMorgan Chase, "In the last 20 years, two out of three jobs were created by a small business. Fostering local entrepreneurship is integral to the development of vibrant and economically inclusive communities.”

“However, starting and growing a small business is difficult in any environment,” Fonte later noted. “Entrepreneurs in distressed neighborhoods, with the lack of access to resources, training and networks face an even greater barrier. That is why we are so proud to partner with Rising Tide Capital in their work to assist talented entrepreneurs to start and grow robust, successful businesses in their own communities.”

Starting July 11 at noon until noon on July 17, the 30 semifinalist’s business videos will be featured on the Start Something Challenge website. The Public is invited to view, and vote for their favorite businesses. Ten entrepreneurs will move on to the next round of the competition, and pitch their businesses to a panel of judges who will select three winners. The $10,000 first prize, the $7,500-second prize and the $5,000 third prize -- more awards for all the finalists will be presented at the 5th annual Start Something Champions Gala on November 1 at the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City.

The Start Something Challenge (SSC) is a statewide pitch competition and business-strengthening opportunity for New Jersey entrepreneurs. Hosted by the nonprofit organization, Rising Tide Capital, The Challenge is funded by visionary supporters, including the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Since 2012, The Start Something Challenge has empowered 391 New Jersey entrepreneurs across 80 towns and cities in New Jersey, to collectively generate 120 million media impressions.

To learn more, visit http://www.StartSomethingChallenge.org

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Esther Fraser
Rising Tide Capital
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