Three aspiring business owners in Queens each won $10,000 grants to help get their ventures off the ground.
Many gathered at Resorts World Casino New York City to celebrate the winners of the 12th annual StartUP! Business Plan Competition. Administered by the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) and Queens Library, the eight-month challenge-and-instruction course awards the winners $10,000 to kick-start their companies.
This year, more than 350 participants received technical assistance and training on such topics as operations, marketing and financial statements for their businesses. Of the 42 teams that submitted business plans to the QEDC judges, who picked a winner in three categories: Community, Food and Innovation.
Rebecca Deutsch, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and graduate of the Queens College/Macaulay Honors Program, won the Community category with her company Impact Fashion. Deutsch designed dresses that adhere to Orthodox Judaism’s modesty requirements and donates 10 percent of the profits to charities that serve her religious community.
This year’s Food award went to Movitzsa Simmons, a Long Island City mother who didn’t want to feed her toddler artificial snacks and treats. This led to Simmons starting Smooth Pops, which makes all-natural fruit popsicles that are made with fruit pulp. Simmons hopes to add more healthy food options to her product line.
In the Innovation category, the winner was Victor Hunt, a Jamaica resident who is currently studying at Yale University, and his partners, Aaron and Ethan Resnick. Together they started Paragon Real Estate Technologies, a company that aims to improve efficiencies at residential and commercial properties by allowing building managers to get bids from qualified contractors. The company also allows these managers to post needed repairs online.