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Meet the 2023 Winners of the Austin Pitch Competition

Aniya Cheri - 1st Place Winner

Aniya Cheri discusses her motivation behind founding Mountain Gaming, a video game company that creates rebellious video games based on Black history. She developed a user persona named Duke, who represents the target audience of Mountain Gaming, an insubordinate time Rebel video game that empowers players to protect Black people from violence.


Cheri explains that she noticed a disconnect between the average Black person in her academic research and that getting her cousin and siblings interested in reading research articles was difficult.


The game is designed to inspire personal growth, foster empathy, and drive positive social change. The company has successfully reached global traffic and exceeded its metrics, and Sheree is seeking funding to develop Mountain Gaming for PlayStation.


Follow them on Instagram.


Saria Hawkins-Banda - 2nd Place Winner

​Saria Hawkins-Bada, the founder of Manifest Your Purpose, delves into the critical need for representation across various societal realms, emphasizing its particular impact on Black women within the stationery industry. Drawing from her personal journey of struggling to find products that resonated with her identity in East Texas, Hawkins-Bada founded her company in 2020.


Manifest Your Purpose has experienced remarkable success over the past two years, marked by a substantial 275% increase in revenue and an impressive gross profit margin of 52%. This success underscores a clear demand for self-representation in stationery products. As Hawkins-Bada passionately articulates her company's mission to celebrate the existence of Black women, she actively seeks a $300,000 investment to propel further growth and continue the vital work of affirming that Black women deserve to be celebrated for simply being themselves.


Darian Washington - 3rd Place Winner

Darian Washington, the mind behind Oatmeal & Company, unfolds the narrative that inspired her venture, revealing how her son's fondness for oatmeal became the catalyst for crafting a breakfast option that is both simple and delectable. Oatmeal & Company offers a selection of five distinctive oatmeal flavors, carefully composed of organic oats, naturally dried fruits, and meticulously chosen spices, all while maintaining low sugar content.


Positioned within the expansive global oatmeal market valued at over $5.3 billion, anticipated to burgeon to $10.8 billion by 2023, with North America constituting a significant quarter of these sales, Oatmeal, and Company has already vended over 25,000 bags, yielding a commendable six-figure gross revenue, all meticulously handcrafted.


In a bid to amplify their enterprise, strategic collaborations with a co-packer have been forged, and early dialogues with grocery stores are underway. Presently, the company seeks to secure $500,000 in funding, envisioning its utilization to augment production and distribution capacities, expedite the introduction of novel products, and assemble a proficient team.


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