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Business plan competition awards prize money to entrepreneurs

CCBC Center for Business Innovation’s 11th Annual Business Plan Competition awards $62,500 in prize money to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Community College of Baltimore County’s Center for Business Innovation hosted its 11th Annual Business Plan Competition Virtual Awards Ceremony on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.

The event featured the top nine pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs, all of whom are CCBC students or alumni. The winners shared a total of $62,500 in seed money to be used as start-up capital for their new or growing businesses.

Prize money was made possible by the generous support of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which has awarded more than $2 million in grant funding to expand the Center for Business Innovation over the last seven years. In addition to the start-up capital to support entrepreneurs, the grant provides instructional support to develop new courses and workshops to strengthen the business acumen for those interested in starting a new business.

It is so exciting to work with each of the finalists as they turn their passion for a business into a well thought out business plan and a compelling pitch before the judges,” said Dennis Sullivan, executive director of CCBC’s Center for Business Innovation. “I wish we could award the seed money to all the finalists. We can’t wait to see the winners continue to grow and scale their businesses for years to come.”

This year’s first-place prize of $20,000 was awarded to Arnetta Shaw (Gwynn Oak, Md.) and her team that includes McAnthony Thompson, Jr. and Gary Chaney of No-Gi Grip, LLC, which is introducing a new form of jiu-jitsu with its patent-pending, strength-building belt. They hope to become a staple in the martial arts and fitness arena.

We worked hard and stayed the path for an idea that became reality with the help of CCBC’s Business Plan Competition,” said Shaw. “The amount of positive feedback from our mentors, and the enormous help from CCBC’s business development team helped sharpen our edge for success. We encourage future entrepreneurs to follow your dreams and never give up, so next year's winner could be you.

Other winners included:

Second place ($15,000): Lynnae D’Alleva and Kate Hollingsworth, Keel Blade (Dundalk, Md.). Keel Blade manufactures a professional hair cutting tool that blends traditional straight blades and specialized safety razors.

Third place ($10,000): Joshua Abarquez, Abarkez (Parkville, Md). Abarkez specializes in crafting one-page websites tailored specifically for small and startup businesses, all for a one-time, affordable fee with no commitments.

Fourth place ($7,500): Jawana Crowder, Lovelace Enterprises LLC (Owings Mills, Md.). Lovelace Enterprises is a beauty salon that offers cosmetology apprenticeships, internship programs and hair styling services to the public.

Runner-up ($5,000): Tori Burns and Kateri Harried, In Tents Experience LLC (Baltimore, Md.). InTents Experience simplifies the planning of slumber parties with curated celebrations delivered right to your living room.

Runner-up ($5,000): Mutiat Jinadu, Renis Kitchen & Grill (Elkridge, Md.). Renis Kitchen & Grill is a catering company specializing in sharing Nigerian culture with others.

Since 2013, CCBC’s Annual Business Plan Competition has helped launch 53 new businesses and distributed nearly $400,000 in seed money. Over the last 10 years, more than 4,500 people have engaged with CBI’s business programs, and 2,772 people have earned college and continuing education credits in a variety of entrepreneurial courses and workshops.

The finalists in this year’s competition were among more than 100 businesses participating in workshops leading up to the competition.

The CCBC Center for Business Innovation is dedicated to serving CCBC students and alumni who are interested in learning how to turn their ideas for new products, services, businesses and organizations into sustainable entities. Entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni are mentored by CCBC faculty and local business owners.

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About Community College of Baltimore County

Since 1957, CCBC has opened the doors to accessible, affordable, high-quality education empowering generations of area residents to transform their lives and the lives of others. Each year, nearly 50,000 students enroll at the college’s main campuses, extension centers and online to make their starts, earn degrees, launch and build careers. CCBC offers the region’s most expansive selection of degree, certificate and workplace certification programs that prepare students for transfer, job entry and career advancement in such industries as business, education, health care, information technology, cybersecurity, construction, and transportation. Designated as the “Best Community College” among the Maryland Daily Record’s 2023 Reader Rankings, CCBC is also nationally recognized as a leader in innovative learning strategies and among the nation’s top associate degree producers.

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