Three New Jersey Women Entrepreneurs Win Business Grants to Grow their Businesses in Rising Tide Capital's Start Something Challenge

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From allergen-free baby food, to a jewelry company that celebrates women's achievements, to a fitness social enterprise, the 2016 Start Something Challenge champions won $22,500 to grow their businesses

(L to R) First place winner Denise Woodard, second place winner Tina Tang, and third place winner Racquel Clarke

This competition showcases the vast talent of local entrepreneurs from around New Jersey, and we can’t wait to see what all of the participants will accomplish in the coming years.

Last Thursday night, Rising Tide Capital, a New Jersey nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming lives and communities through entrepreneurship hosted the finale of its annual Start Something Challenge, where ten women business owners competed for a share of $25,000 in business grants.

Each entrepreneur delivered a five minute pitch about her business before a group of nine judges who represented New Jersey business and government leaders, as well as an audience of about 120 friends, supporters, and community organizations.

At the end of the evening, three winners were announced.

Denise Woodard, from Jersey City, who created her business Vivi’s Life out of a need to find allergen-free baby food for her own child, walked away with the first prize of $10,000.

“I feel so proud & excited,” she said. “I feel proud that my hard work & preparation paid off, and that my idea for Vivi's Life is validated. I also feel so excited for the future of Vivi's Life - I know firsthand that there's a need for allergy friendly, healthy kids foods & am passionate about making them accessible to all kids and families.”

In second place and winner of $7,500 was Tina Tang, also of Jersey City who creates fitness inspired jewelry that celebrates significant moments in women’s lives through her business Iron Strong Jewelry.

Coming in third and winning $5,000 was Racquel Clarke of Teaneck, whose social enterprise Fit FUNd underwrites community fitness programs by the work she does with small and midsized corporations.

“Tonight’s finalists are a group of truly inspiring entrepreneurs who have shown us firsthand the wealth of creativity, innovation, and fortitude that is alive and well in neighborhoods and communities around the state,” said Chun-Lung Lim, Senior Software Quality Assurance Engineer, who represented JPMorgan Chase, a lead sponsor of the Start Something Challenge.

“All the pitches were impressive, and I don’t envy our judges in their hard decision to select our winners. I know I speak for the entire firm when I say how proud we are to have served as the lead sponsor of the Start Something Challenge for the past five years. This competition showcases the vast talent of local entrepreneurs from around New Jersey, and we can’t wait to see what all of the participants will accomplish in the coming years.”

The Start Something Challenge (SSC) is a statewide pitch competition and business-strengthening opportunity for New Jersey entrepreneurs. Hosted by nonprofit organization, Rising Tide Capital, The Challenge is funded by visionary supporters, including the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. 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.
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Headquartered in Jersey City, Rising Tide Capital, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded with the mission to empower entrepreneurs to create and grow small businesses which transform lives and communities. The organization’s vision is to build a replicable model for high-quality entrepreneurial development services that can be adopted locally in other low-income communities.

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Esther Fraser
Rising Tide Capital
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