RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship announces business pitch competition winners

Prize money will help advance local businesses, boost Rochester economy

Peter Parts

Jnicolle Glover, left, and Charletta Broome, founders of Urban Euphoria, LLC, accept the $25,000 top prize from RIT Vice President for Research and Associate Provost Ryne Raffaele, right, at the ROC the Pitch business competition Aug. 25.

Local entrepreneurs Jnicolle Glover and Charletta Broome are still on cloud nine after walking away as the top prize winners of RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship ROC the Pitch competition. The pair, who are the founders of Urban Euphoria, LLC, an entertainment venue in downtown Rochester, claimed their business-boosting $25,000 check and joined some of the area’s newest business owners at the Aug. 25 celebratory event at Hyatt Regency Rochester.  

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, located at 40 Franklin St., hosted the highly successful business pitch competition, which was open to all businesses operating within Monroe County.

Other competition winners were Laughing Gull Chocolates, providers of high-quality, organic chocolates made locally with transparently sourced ingredients, owned by Lindsay Tarnoff (Rochester Rotary 4-Way Test award); Sew-N-City hair salon, specializing in sew-in and bonded weaves, wig customization and installation, make up, lashes, braided styles, crochet looks, and hair cutting, owned by Shannon Scott (People’s Choice award and Urban League of Rochester award); and Morgan’s Cereal Bar, featuring a variety of hot and cold cereals, varied cuisine and drinks, and a food truck, owned by Cheria Anderson (Urban League of Rochester award).

The competition was open to business owners who have an existing business plan and business model generating a minimum of $25,000 in annual gross revenue. Participants were required to meet at least once with a business coach during the competition, as well as attend boot camp sessions, which covered pitch etiquette, financial literacy, and review and updating of the business plan. Judges examined the businesses’ unique competitive advantage, marketability, industry expertise of the owner/team, financial strength of the business, and company growth. Ten businesses were selected to compete.

“We are so pleased with the quality and variety of submissions that we received for our business pitch competition,” said Ebony Miller-Wesley, director of RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship. The center was designed to help reshape the regional economy and build wealth within the urban community by being the hub for urban entrepreneurial programs and research.

“We are always on the lookout for business owners who are passionate about their ideas and their potential for success,” she added. “This competition gives us the unique opportunity to serve those businesses that may be challenged by securing access to capital or need some direction as they look to the next steps in their entrepreneurial journeys. We are hoping to continue to make an impact that will help keep them growing within Monroe County and providing services to our communities.”

Lindsay Tarnoff is founder, owner, and chief chocolatier at Laughing Gull Chocolates on East Main Street in Rochester. It was the first time Tarnoff has been involved in this type of business pitch competition, and she said the experience was invaluable.

“We had the opportunity to really hone in on who we are, our values, solidifying a plan and making sense of the numbers,” said Tarnoff. “We are proud Rochesterians and it was an honor to get to know other local businesses that are also invested in the community. We feel fortunate to participate, and winning Rochester Rotary’s 4-Way Test is a privilege that connects us to our community even more and will help launch our growth forward. We are excited for our next steps as a business.”

Glover’s Urban Euphoria can host more than 200 people in the historic Jonathan Child Mansion, named for Rochester’s first mayor, on Washington Street, and offers guests unique options, including soul food catering and event promotion.

“The willingness of the RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship advisors and instructors to share their expertise has made a powerful impact on us as leaders,” said Glover. “We truly appreciate every jewel and plan to continue to lean on the CUE for guidance and direction as we scale our business.”

The competition, which is expected to return in 2023, was sponsored by RIT, Rochester Economic Development Corp., Urban League of Rochester, and Rochester Rotary.

Go to the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship website for information on programs and services.

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