QEDC announces 15 finalists in Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge

QTIC 2023 finalists stand with Deputy Borough President Ebony Young (l.) and QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein (r.) at the Museum of the Moving Image on Wednesday, March 29. (Photo courtesy of QEDC)

The Queens Economic Development Corporation and Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. on March 29 announced the 15 finalists of the 2023 Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge (QTIC), a multi-month competition for borough-based entrepreneurs in search of funding to either launch or grow their startups. 

QTIC is a continuation of the Queens StartUP! Business Plan Competition, which QEDC administered for the previous 16 years. 

Over the course of QTIC, several dozen participants took entrepreneurial classes, participated in one-on-one mentorship opportunities, and attended networking events to develop their pitches.They received technical assistance and training on business topics such as operations, marketing and financial statements, while also enjoying access to advice from experts.

A total of 44 teams submitted business plans to the judges in five categories. From this pool, the judges chose the 15 finalists listed below.

Consumer Tech Division

  • Gean Martinez and Alexander Miles of Breakthru: A learn-2-earn platform for youth to engage with companies
  • Charles Medenilla of ChipedIn: A Crowdgifting platform that purchases gifts via wish lists
  • Marfry Hernandez of Zion Quest: A multimedia app for digital creators and digital explorers to coexist

Enterprise Tech Division

  • Jiahui Lu and Feargal O’Sullivan of Sales Slice: A software-as-a-service business that provides sales analytics solutions to help companies increase revenue and optimize their sales operations 
  • Max Burt of Gourmeal: A marketplace that allows patrons attending live events to skip the lines when ordering food, beverages, and alcohol
  • Lou Carpino of PomPom Fairy: A B2B cashback platform that provides AI curated instant cash back rewards to consumers without compromising their personal data

Urban Tech Division

  • Cuthbert A. Onikute of DalO Systems: A B2B operations-and-logistics management tool for African small and medium enterprises with waste management as the beachhead market
  • Kiyeon Nam of B’ZT (Beacon Zone Technology): A fashion-tech startup developing IoT-based smart clothing and connected mobile network platforms to locate missing people
  • Rui Zhang of morning2night: A comprehensive renovation marketplace for non-English speaking contractors in New York

Community Division

  • Felica Robertson of I Am Yogi Studios: Which offers a variety of yoga services and products for women of color
  • Delicia Davis of The Luxe Library: A multimedia publishing company that bridges the divide between education and entertainment
  • Adrian Cepeda of The World’s Borough Bookshop: A Latino-owned bookshop that celebrates and only sells BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) books

Food Division

  • Noon and Matthew Schwartz from Baked By Noon: A granola brand that connects with people around the shared value of wellness and inspires customers to reimagine their snack purchasing
  • Auria Abraham of Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen: A gourmet pantry brand that brings authentic Malaysian flavors to the modern kitchen
  • Diana Manalang of LCPXN Inc., doing business as Little Chef Productions: A culinary lab specializing in chef-prepared meals for businesses such as daycares, learning centers, cafes, offices and event venues

In May, the same judges will choose one winner in each category, and each one will receive $20,000 in seed funding.

Richards wished the 15 finalists all the best as they continue on in the competition.

“The 15 finalists announced today are among the best and the brightest ‘The World’s Borough’ has to offer,” Richards said. “Thanks to the Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge, these finalists are getting a great opportunity to showcase their ideas and are receiving crucial support to help them bring their ideas to fruition.”

QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein congratulated this year’s finalists, and reminded those who didn’t advance that they can try again next year. 

“I’d also like to wholeheartedly thank Borough President Richards and his staffers for their time and expertise in creating this useful program,” Bornstein said. “And last but not least, a hearty thanks to our sponsors: Resorts World New York City; Google; Flushing Bank; AT&T; Airbnb; JetBlue Ventures; Patrick Jenkins & Associates; and TechNYC.”

Founded in 1977, QEDC strives to create and retain jobs through programming that assists small businesses, encourages entrepreneurship, and promotes our community with an emphasis on supporting those of low-to-moderate income, women, minorities, and immigrants.

For more information on QEDC, click here.