The Queens Economic Development Corporation last week announced the 12 finalists in the 14th annual Queens StartUP! Business Plan Competition, a five-month challenge-and-instruction course sponsored by Resorts World Casino New York City.
After attending the workshops and a financial bootcamp at Queens Public Library branches, the contestants submitted anonymous business plans to a panel of judges consisting of local entrepreneurship and commerce experts.
The judges then selected three finalists in each of four categories: community, food, sustainability and technology.
Astoria-based Calm City, which will operate a mobile meditation van, advanced in the community division. It is joined by another Astoria entity, The Elysians, which will connect Greek designers and manufacturers to potential clients, and Sara’s, a soap-and-skin product maker in Flushing.
Cheska, a Sunnyside purveyor of gluten-free cuisine, is one of the Food finalists. The others are Ringo + Ginger, a brunch spot in Astoria, and Prince Abou’s Butchery in Jamaica.
The third field, Sustainability, has the following finalists: Bobagreen, a Forest Hills bubble tea maker; Jars of Delight, which creates and distributes meal kits in Jamaica; and Astoria fashion company Rare Stance.
Flushing’s Shrine Registry, which will connect female entrepreneurs, is a finalist in the technology category. Totally Pregnant, a social media/mental health app run by a Ridgewood resident, also advanced, as did employment-focused LHG Consultant Services, which is located in St. Albans.
From this pool, the judges will now choose one winner in each category sometime in May. Each winner will receive $10,000 seed funding. During this year’s StartUP!, more than 250 participants received technical assistance and training on how to start a small business.
They also had access to entrepreneurial resources at Queens Central Library in Jamaica and face-to-face consultations with QEDC experts. A total of 50 teams submitted business plans to the judges.
“Congratulations to this year’s finalists and best of luck as you pursue your business dreams,” said QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein. “I’d like to remind those who didn’t advance that they can try again next year.”
One of QEDC’s signature programs, the StartUP! competition provides entrepreneurship education, one-on-one guidance, mentoring and the chance to win seed funding. In addition to Resorts World Casino NYC and Queens Library, it is supported by the NYC Department of Small Business Services and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Founded in 1977, QEDC’s mission is to create and retain jobs through programming that grows our neighborhoods, assists small businesses, and promotes tourism and business development.