In case you missed it, we hosted the first-ever BGV x Nike Pitch competition for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs. BGV believes the road to financial equity for women of color is paved with disruption and domination. This partnership is a perfect marriage because elite athletes continuously get up after experiencing loss.
As one of our board members, Willie Williams, said, "Building a business is an endurance sport. You're constantly adjusting while your competitor is getting better." The stats haven't changed much, and we're feeling the ripple effects of the impact of the pandemic one year later. Despite these statistics, we believe we will continue to dominate the entrepreneurial space. We will position ourselves to provide community, capital, and capacity building for our Black and Brown women entrepreneurs with the help of our partners.
Quinn Conyers, a BGV alumnus who trains entrepreneurs to turn virtual conversations into cash, hosted the event. Quinn's energetic vibe was contagious as she kept us fired up and inspired. She reminded us that "It's our time. Our ideas and businesses matter."
Entrepreneurship Is A Boxing Match
Shelly Bell, the founder of Black Girl Ventures, started us off with a powerful poem comparing how entrepreneurship is like a boxing match.
Entrepreneurship is a boxing match
We the women, know how to stay light on our feet
we slide through insecurity
shuffle through sexual harassment
We were then captivated by short videos from BGV Alumni on what it meant to them to be an #EliteBusinessAthlete:
Practicing your skill every day.
Forward-thinking vision, resiliency, creativity, inspiration, and passion.
You fall, you get back up again, the finish line is always moving.
You have a team.
There's a lot on the line for this pitch competition. Out of 200 applicants, only eight moved forward, four will move to the final round, two will face off, and only one will win. The 1st place winner will win $60k, the second winner will win $10k, and the third prize winner wins $5k. All the winners will walk away with $2500, access, and support from Black Girl Ventures because we believe the future is inclusion and not silos.
Co-Founder at Black in Fashion Council
"I'm personally excited to hear the strategy, to see what people are working on but also the passion that they have behind it, it's not just a plan."
2x WNBA Championship Winner Co-Owner of the Atlanta Dream
"For me, I'm looking for the creativity, like how did you come up with that? I like to know how did it become a thing, the aha moment that made them create whatever their pitch is, it's the creatives."
Nike VP Strategy & Development
"The clarity and the commitment and the distinction, the idea is something, but the follow-through is everything."
The Nike x BGV Pitch Founders
Kayla remembers growing up how her grandfather would bring home perfectly good fruits from the fields that would've been discarded. These fruits would turn into traditional sweet Mexican drinks called agua fresca. The only downside of these drinks is the added sugars.
So, Kayla and her co-founder decided to create Agua Bonita. They upcycle the fruit and put it to good use. They make the natural sweetness of the fruits without adding any sugar. Their products begin in the hands of immigrants, so they reinvest 1% back into education for children of immigrants through nonprofit partners. They sold out in their first month of production and now. Agua Bonita hopes to bring more consumer education about the product, gain more traction in other markets by first building brand presence in California and Texas.
The judges' concerns were the significant expense of shelf space as they expand into retail and how they will keep their margins attractive enough. Agua Bonita hopes to continue improving its margins by keeping production costs down, focusing on direct-to-consumer, and capitalizing on pandemic grocery shopping.
Amina was hit by a car in her hometown of Detroit and underwent physical therapy. Navigating the health systems led her to see how the health of her community battled hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. This inspired her to create Live Cycle Delight to provide people of color access to inclusive workout studios. She started TSR, Train, Sweat, and Restore. She coaches people to work to the edge of their potential.
Her business is rooted in community, inclusivity, access, and Black woman-owned. She has two locations and 5,000 clients. She pivoted to Zoom classes, outdoor workouts, branded apparel, and sold fitness equipment during the pandemic. Amina is hoping to franchise the concept.
The judges' were interested in the strategy behind the franchise model and the marketing plan to validate the research to support the expansion reach. Amina has partnered with a company to conduct the target research. However, COVID has paused the project.
The other concern was the competition. Amina stated that the competition didn't offer the unique blend of the TSR model and that most of the models are one-dimensional.
Gigi learned to surf at the age of 35. As she learned more about the aquatics culture, she realized it was only 53 years ago that Black people have freely enjoyed the public beaches. Further research showed that less than 14% of people of color are represented in ocean aquatics.
Gigi wanted to diversify the lineup. She created Surfenegra, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing gender and cultural diversity to surfing. Her camp provides access education awareness, sends young girls to surf camps, donates surfboards, and provides transportation. With the history of redlining, Black communities lack access to beaches, so Gigi brings the experience and curated equipment to the communities by teaching the fundamentals of surfing—no water needed. She believes not only are Black girls magic, but they walk on water too.
The judges' concerns were the long-term sustainability of Gig's funding model. The funding comes from donations. How will Surfenegra create visibility for her organization? Has she thought about expanding the skills of the young girls in either a method of exercise or competitive sports?
Gigi says the revenue from the rentals covers operational costs and plans to expand over the years and is confident that her organization will be sustainable by 2022. The young people will sharpen their skills and become lifelong surfers. The surfboard donations help the kids go to camps and provides them access to wet suits. She also has a network to plug them into if they want to continue beyond.
Ife looked at the wellness space, and out of the 500 spaces offered in her community, none were Black women-owned, and none were in her neighborhood. Ife believes that POC's and Black instructors help people feel seen. She launched a certification program to train more BIPOC instructors. During the pandemic, Ife created many pivots to generate revenue, keep her community healthy, and landed significant partnership deals.
The judges' concerns were with the restrictions of COVID, what the attendance and number of classes looked like.
Ife was already operating with smaller-sized classes and adjusted the schedule of classes to accommodate her community.
Miracle is a serial entrepreneur, mental health advocate, and health enthusiast who created The Mossy Mob to reinvent sea moss so more people can reap the benefits of this powerful plant. She has developed ways to infuse the sea moss with other fruits and added supplements.
The judges' concerns wondered how she maintained the freshness and other ways she offered the sea moss since it's not very palatable.
Miracle soaks it in lime juice as a natural preservative and freezes it. She recommends her customers place the gel in ice cubes as it's the perfect portion size. For those that have a hard time consuming it, capsules are available. She'll also be launching a powdered version soon.
Symone suffered from chronic pain for several years and couldn't shake the impact of her injuries. She wanted to create something that helped people manage and recover from physical pain using safe and protective body products. That's why she started Sincerely, Bade.
As a health coach in West Harlem, she created wellness programs to uplift her community and a tailored subscription model to make the products easy and accessible. Her natural pain management products are white-labeled in fitness studios and used in apparel companies.
The judge's wondered what differentiated her products from other popular plant-based remedies, including CBD, and what the active ingredients were.
Symone's products include hemp, blue tansy, a popular essential oil that's great for inflammation. Her products focus on inflammation which is the source of a lot of chronic pain.
Aneesah wanted to create a dynamic and unique workout experience. She wanted working out to be more fun for her community. So she started Hulatics, where workout meets play.
Hulatics offers timed hula hoop rounds, a fun playlist, and strength training between hula hoops to make working out more enjoyable. Not only that, her company provides mindfulness meditation, dance, all inside your hoop. It's about pushing people to their limits while also having fun. She believes working out isn't a chore it's a celebration of what our bodies can do.
The judges' concerns were growth and expansion. COVID hit the fitness world hard, and the judges wanted to know how Aneesah planned to grow Hualitcs.
Aneesah provides online group classes and is considering outdoor workouts. She says the possibilities are endless.
Jasmine created the premiere marketplace where art meets sports. She collaborates with artists to create a new canvas through sports, both through physical and digital products. Jasmine believes we're more than our feet. Round21 offers consumers a creative way to express their individualities. She believes what you play with should also say something about who you are.
The judges' were impressed by Round21's track record and funding abilities. But their concerns were marketing to the Gen Z population and what social media tools they were using.
Jasmine believes everyone wants the story, and they want to know the artist behind the story. The artists already have their audience when they bring the products to life, so using cross-promotion and brand awareness allows them to broaden their exposure. They're focused on those who are interested in self-expression through digital art.
Who Will Be The Final Founder
The question is, who will take their prizes to the next level? It's one thing to win. It's another thing to take your winnings and turn them into a dominant global brand. The judges' were more interested in creativity, substantial expansion and growth, passion, and community impact.
From our founder Shelly Bell, remember to resist the urge to be average and become an #EliteBusinessAthlete.