Written by | Ray Cornelius

The 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit is in full swing and yours truly has been taking full advantage of the sessions, workshops, and special events.

The three-day summit kicked-off its schedule of activities Wednesday night with the highly anticipated “Going Up! The Elevator Pitch” sponsored by AT&T.  This high-stakes competition is based on the idea that you should be able to deliver your “pitch” or summary to a potential client in the time span of an elevator ride or thirty seconds to two minutes. The fast-paced competition is very similar to ABC’s úberly popular television series, “Shark Tank,” in which would-be-business owners seek investors for their products or services. In this case, the entrepreneurs were aiming for a $10,000 grand prize.

The session began with remarks from Black Enterprise’s President and CEO, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. along with Nationwide’s Dena Silveri, AT&T’s Elroy Cartwright and Black Enterprise’s Alfred Edmonds, who also served as the evening’s moderator.  The distinguished panel of judges included Mr. Graves along with motivational speaker and book author, Lisa Nichols; and founder and CEO of Film Life, Jeff Friday.

Some of the innovative businesses competing included Court Buddy, Digital Factory, Labs to Go, and Pop Up Plus.  Once the business owners finished their presentations, they were then critiqued by the judges who offered some pretty interesting feedback. Here were a few helpful tips I picked up between each presenter:

  • Remember to smile when talking about your business or service
  • Get comfortable talking about your product. It may be boring to you but its new to the client
  • Determine if your product is solving a problem or bringing the clients joy
  • Know when to pitch or give a commercial. It may determine whether the client writes you a check or walks away
  • Give numbers…Investors want to hear how your product will make them money
  • Be sure and correct but if you have to choose one…BE SURE!
  • Here’s one of my personal favorites…When talking about your business, offer the client a “Snapatizer.” It’s just enough information that will keep the conversation going which should lead to a full meal and then a buffet.

After all of the presentations and critiques, the judges deliberated and cut the contestants down to four finalists.  These remaining four entrepreneurs were then given another 30-seconds to pitch their ideas, hopefully using some of advice from the judges. It was from that pool, that a winner would be chosen.

Congrats goes to Camille Newman of Pop Up Plus!  Her “Curvy Girls” online shopping business not only  picked up the $10,000 prize but it made a really good impression on the judges. Check out all of the photos below:

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 AT&T’s Elroy Cartwright (Executive Director Small Business Product Management) bringing greetings

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 Lawrence Griffith of ‘Digital Factory’ giving his pitch to the judges

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 Cheree Owens of ‘Labs To Go’ giving her pitch to the judges

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 Camille Owens of ‘Pop Up Plus’ giving her pitch

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Rising entrepreneur, Jeremiah West giving his pitch while the judges were deliberating

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 The judges with the four finalists


 And the winner is…

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 Pitchers: Paris Jones, Cheree Owens, John Johnson and Terri Hollins 

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 Judge Lisa Nichols talking to Elroy Cartwright backstage

 Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com