Project Beanstalk co-founders Glenn Ray Brooks and Isaiah Johnson presented their business idea to a host of panelist judges and advisers at the People’s Pitch Event at the Kapor Center for Social Justice. The duo won $2000 to start their gaming business.
The People’s Pitch event was the place to be for those wanting to meet problem solvers and innovators of the future. Sponsored by Youth Impact Hub in Oakland at the Kapor Center for Social Justice on Thursday, May 24, about 10 millennials ages 18-24 stood before an audience of mentors, educators, venture capitalists, family members and the extended social justice network to share their business plans.
Competing for $1000, the 2018 Youth Hub Fellows presented their three-minute slide shows and enthusiasm for a solution-focused business that would both make money and improve society.
“In collaboration with Youth Business USA and the City of Oakland, our mission is to prepare, launch and grow 100 or more underrepresented young entrepreneurs in Oakland each year,” said Gino Pastori-Ng, Youth Impact Hub Co-Founder.
Prior to the pitch event, fellows took part in a comprehensive year-long social entrepreneurship training and implementation program. Housed at United Roots, the program supports emerging leaders of color from low income areas to create an equitable life-affirming economy by providing socially innovative training, co-working space, and access to networks and resources.
From natural hair care products to tennis shoe cleaning to 3-D printing, the youth demonstrated their desire to make their mark on the world immediately. Participants included Sole2soul, Russell Agustin and Rodolfo James III Agustin, Black Camera Productions, Jean Black and Plan U’s Tria Villanueva. The companies respectively sought to provide athletic shoes and promote a healthy lifestyle to underserved youth, create positive images for people of color and designing a schedule that keeps students organized.
Maleik Dion created BAYAF, to uplift Bay Area artists in the media while Alberto Ibarra dreamed of training minority youth the art of 3-D printing. Dion’s sister Jada Imani, chanted “Get Free – Get Money.” “Being entreprenuer is freedom,” said Imani who co-founded Tatu Vision with Dion. “With my 3-D company, I want to teach youth how to make accessories like cell phone covers and household products so they can sell them for a profit,” said Ibarra.
Shavon Moore of Bright Future’s Music sang throughout her presentation while James Green of Fix My Kicks designed a company that will restore sneakers and prevent them from entering landfills that harm the environment.
Jasmine Curtis of AvoCurl shared how harmful chemicals are in the thousands of unregulated beauty products that Black women worldwide utilize without knowing the dangers. “I began AvoCurl because in Europe 1300 chemicals are banned in our hair care products, but in our own country only 30 are banned,” said Curtis. “I want to ensure women of color have safe products and my products are so natural that they have to be refrigerated prior to use.”
Kabreshiona Smith began her company Move with the Breeze to promote healing practices among African Americans. “In our neighborhoods we either have food deserts (no grocery stores) or low quality foods (fast foods) available,’ she said. “I want to change that by providing healthy food and holistic practices.”
After half of the competitors won $1000 each, a venture capitalist announced that he would give each of the 10 companies $1000. At that point the event turned into an all out jubilee as youth and their mentors celebrated with them. Project Beanstalk co-founders Isaiah Johnson and Glenn Ray Brooks were competition winners and were thrilled to win the additional $1000 to start their business. “African Americans in the gaming sector is a huge opportunity and we are grateful to our mentors who have helped us,” said Brooks.
Panelists that advised the entrepreneurs after their presentations included; Tope Alabi and Lili Gangas of the Kapor Center, Clayton Bryan, 500 Startups, Lisa Gelobter, tEQuitable, Nayelli Gonzalez, Creators Circle, Brandon Nicholson, The Hidden Genius Project, Ismail Maiyegun, Hingeto, Mireya Smith Mojica, Bling, Claire Shorall, Neo, Niles Lichtenstein, Enwoven and Don Loeb of Tech Stars. Sinclair Wu, Education Social Entrepreneurship & Intl. Tech Collaboration, Meghan Freebeck, Simply the Basics, Sharla Turner, Gary Reeves, Andranee Nabors along with Kate Karniouchina Dean of Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy also participated.
“Tonight everyone is a winner,” said Co-Facilitator Destiny Iwouoma with a.b. and Jasmine Stallworth. For more information, contact Youth Hub staff and creators; Galen Silvestri, Demario Lewis, Tammy Chan, Javiera Torres and Amanda Greene at www.youthimpacthub.org