The Houston Pitch Winners Blazed Through The Competition
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Vernee Hines - 1st Place Winner
Raised in Oakland, California, Vernee grew up in public school systems where she experienced educational biases. That stuck with her for the rest of her life. As a first-generation, college student STEM education changed her world. She co-founded UpBrainery Technologies, a technology ecosystem that's disrupting educational and classroom norms through their proprietary technology. She's a STEAM Instructional Design professional with a love and passion for educating students.
The mission of UpBrainery is to eliminate historical education biases, to level the playing field for underrepresented students, and provide a technology solution that reaches even the most disconnected student. Vernee uses her understanding of curriculum design and theory of education to create a powerful educational platform.
UpBrainery is an educational technology software powered by AI, coupled with a neuroscience research-based curriculum that boasts a one-of-a-kind technology ecosystem with a solution for all stakeholders. Using never before developed Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, UpBrainery provides a cutting-edge learning experience for students and a technology solution for schools, districts, and corporations to reach students and provide education on a level previously unattainable.
It recognizes the different learning styles of each child. The software provides feedback, metrics, and engagement. The skill assessment tracking and smart badges provide individualized paths, allowing a child to experience learning in a confidence-building environment. Whether used at home or in a school setting, their platform removes the biases from education that has historically been present and allows students who have been traditionally underserved, underrepresented, and ignored to experience learning in the ways their counterparts always have.
Through hands-on experiences and real-world connections, marginalized students are exposed to a world outside of what they would’ve typically experienced. Learning should be fun, despite socioeconomic status, gender, and race, absent of biases so that every child has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
Christa Clarke - 2nd Place Winner
Christa Clarke is the Founder of Cubicles to Cocktails. A project management professional, Christa was inspired by post-work happy hours with her friends and mentor to launch Cubicles to Cocktails in 2018. Happy hour was the space for her to share and gain advice on navigating corporate life as a Black woman. Christa believes that every woman deserves the network and resources to enable them to excel in their careers.
Cubicles to Cocktails is a career development platform curating resources, tools, and events to advance the careers and celebrate Black + Brown women's cultures. If you find yourself being "the only one at work," then Cubicles to Cocktails is a community that understands that too well.
You can find a supportive network of women like yourself while also accessing resources to achieve your career goals. They help women of color successfully navigate the intersection of their gender and race, and ethnicity related to their professional lives through their curated events, community conversations, and weekly newsletters rounding up fresh advice, smart reads, local happenings, and recommendations.
ShantaQuilette Carter Williams - 3rd Place Winner
ShantaQuilette has always been passionate about women's wellness. After watching her aunt and multiple friends fight breast cancer, she founded a non-profit to provide breast cancer patients with safe and healthy personal care products. But what started as a mission for others quickly became personal when ShantaQuilette had a heart attack at 40, followed by a stroke.
Suddenly, she dealt with unpredictable hormonal shifts and unexpected side effects from her medications like chafing and vaginal dryness. She wanted to find personal care products that worked and wouldn't add toxins to her life. What she discovered was that there were hardly any options that were both healthy and luxurious.
While still recovering from her stroke, ShantaQuilette became a certified herbalist and tapped her father—a manufacturing expert with 40 years of experience—to help her develop luxurious products that were cleaner than what she could find on the market.
A mother-daughter duo founded GirlBNatural. GirlBNatural is a clean personal care brand on a mission to create a higher standard for women's wellness. The products are handmade with toxic-free ingredients; every product is cruelty-free, sustainable, and vegan whenever possible. Driven by their progressive approach to self-care education, their products are accessible and loved by all women—including those with the most sensitive and compromised immune systems.
Their products serve every aspect of women's health, from daily care to postpartum support. At GirlBNatural, women are their inspiration, community is their power, and nature is their guide.
Today, ShantaQuilette runs Girl B Natural alongside her daughter Nyaira, a new mother who shares her passion for women's wellness and health education.
BGV thanks the sponsors, the judges, the supporters, and various members of our community for supporting these women in their pitch competition. Together we will continue to create access to capital and education for our Black and Brown founders to continue to grow and sustain their businesses.
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