Washington, DC – On Saturday, August 12th, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) awarded $600,000 to the winners of the 2023 "Battle of The Wards" Dream Pitch Competition. Sixteen “Sweet 16” finalists from Wards 7 and 8 received cash awards, recognition, exposure, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities.
"I am excited to recognize the impressive accomplishments of these innovative business owners,” said DSLBD Director Kristi C. Whitfield. They have shown incredible creativity and determination and displayed exceptional talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit in various industries. It's truly exciting to see how their innovations may have the power to revolutionize entire industries and make a meaningful impact on the economic vitality of our city."
The Dream Pitch Competition is an annual initiative by DSLBD that aims to provide a platform for emerging entrepreneurs to present their groundbreaking ideas and innovative solutions to a panel of esteemed judges and fellow entrepreneurs. This year's competition saw a record number of entries, each vying for the coveted title of "Dream Pitch Winner" and the accompanying recognition and support.
After a rigorous selection process that involved multiple rounds of evaluations, Ward 8 came out victoriously in this year’s battle, and the following businesses have been crowned as the top winners of the 2023 DSLBD Dream Pitch Competition:
First Place: Ward 8: EightFold Farms DC
EightFold Farms DC constitutes a collection of small, sustainable, intensive, commercial urban farms established within previously unused or neglected indoor and outdoor areas. The proprietor, Calvin Hines, employs urban commercial farming to tackle the underlying issues of food inequality. This approach involves fulfilling the need for extremely localized goods, fostering a more wholesome and streamlined food production system, offering employment training and opportunities, as well as promoting educational initiatives.
Winning Amount: $20,000
First Runner Up: Ward 7: Ed Emcee Academy
Ed Emcee Academy serves as an educational consulting agency with a distinct focus on fostering inclusivity, fairness, and social justice through the lens of poetry, spoken word, and Hip-Hop. Tony Keith Jr., the founder, provides inventive and results-oriented services designed to ensure active student participation. The ultimate vision for this enterprise is to evolve into a worldwide venture that harnesses the skills and knowledge of local Ed Emcees. This collaboration aims to amplify the voices of students, invigorate teaching practices, and establish inclusive environments for learning.
Winning Amount: $17,000
Second Place of Ward 7: Braids, Beads & Things
Ashley Travers, the proprietor behind Braids, Beads & Things, is a certified hairstylist located in Washington, DC. Her area of expertise lies in creating braided hairstyles, particularly for children. She strongly advocates for the availability of hair care knowledge and practices that promote healthy hair, making them accessible to anyone who expresses an interest.
Winning Amount: $15,000
Second Place Ward 8: K & J Refinishing Company LLC
K&J Refinishing Company LLC is focused on enhancing interior spaces within homes, specializing in refinishing tasks such as reglazing bathtubs, tiles, countertops, and kitchen cabinets. Owned by Kimberly Stribling, the company takes pride in being female and minority owned. Kimberly's aspiration for K&J Refinishing Company LLC revolves around transforming residences into the embodiment of dream homes, achieved through creating lavish interior environments accessible to all homeowners.
Winning Amount: $15,000
Third Place Ward 7: District Flora, LLC
District Flora, a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE), is in the process of seeking approval to participate in DC's medical cannabis program as a cultivation entity in 2023. The proprietor, Bryan Jackson, envisions propelling the company's growth to establish it as one of the foremost successful enterprises within the national cannabis industry.
Winning Amount: $12,000
Third Place Ward 8: Urban ReinVintage
Urban ReinVintage operates as a fashion retailer focusing on curating and selling vintage and contemporary apparel. Additionally, the company engages in crafting its own unique designs. The founder, Marcus Binion, envisions a path where the business offers distinctive and sustainable fashion choices that carry narratives. The ultimate goal involves establishing a physical presence – a brick-and-mortar space – where fashion, art, and community intersect. This space would serve to celebrate and uphold culture, provide employment opportunities for community members, and contribute back to the community by allocating time and resources.
Winning Amount: $12,000
The 10 participants who remained in the battle were each granted a minimum of $10,000, while those hailing from Ward 8, the victorious ward, received an additional $500. For the other businesses that participated in the ward-based qualifying rounds, their awards fell within the range of $2,000 to $7,500. The winners were selected based on criteria such as creativity, market viability, growth potential, and alignment with DSLBD's dedication to nurturing entrepreneurship and local economic development.
The 2023 DSLBD Dream Pitch Competition has once again underscored the importance of supporting local businesses and nurturing innovation. The winners' success stories will serve as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the District and beyond.
For more information about the winners and the DSLBD Dream Pitch Competition, please visit DSLBD.DC.gov.