$40,000 Awarded to Brooklyn Entrepreneurs in BPL’s Business Plan Competition


One of the terrariums created by TerrartNYC, a landscaping company dedicated to making freestanding terrariums. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

18th Annual Brooklyn Public Library Power up! The business plan competition awarded $40,000 to budding entrepreneurs in a virtual pitch competition and awards ceremony Wednesday night hosted by Joe Connolly, business anchor for WCBS NewsRadio 880.

Dime Community Bank presented the grand prize of $20,000 to Charly Uzcatequi, Timothy Chu and Henger Ydrogo for TerrartNYC, a landscaping company dedicated to making self-contained terrariums in New York City.

A judging panel of business owners, nonprofit leaders and academics selected TerrartNYC from more than 350 entries, most of whom had no previous business experience.

“Power up! celebrates Brooklyn’s long heritage of creative and determined entrepreneurship,” said Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “Our librarians and business and career partners at Dime Bank ensure that the next generation of local business owners have the skills and funding they need to pursue their dreams and strengthen their communities.”

Danielle Chéry of DMC Original Art, winner of the competition’s “People’s Choice” prize, with some of her creations. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

A second prize of $10,000 was awarded to Jeffrey Jacque, the founder of CeeBak, a new safety device that helps prevent bicycle, board and scooter accidents. A third prize of $5,000 was awarded to Lali Honey Wine founded by Samra Ghermay, Naz Habtezgh, Selam Negatu and Aden Fisseha.

Five participants received merit awards and $1,000 in start-up capital. Merit winners presented their ideas to the live audience on Zoom who voted for their favorite. The winner was Danielle Chstarry for DMC Original Art. Chstarry received an additional $1,000 for winning the crowd favorite award.

Other merit winners were: Temika Walker for B4 UR SKN, a plant-based vegan skincare brand; Alice Forbes Spear and Jenny Kim-Jacobson for Open Care Acupuncture, providing low-cost acupuncture and herbal medicine to all New Yorkers via a sliding scale; Lerone Savage for Soon Forward, an e-commerce shipping platform for local exporters transporting goods to the Caribbean; and Daniel Sheehan and Matthew Sloan for AutoCEQR, a software platform that automates the generation of standard analysis, data, and maps required by the New York City Environmental Quality Review for environmental planning consultancies and land use advocates.

“Dime is once again proud and honored to be the Premier Sponsor of the Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Program this year. As Premier Sponsor, we love participating in the program and watching new entrepreneurs here in Brooklyn looking to take their big leap. This program shines a light on the spirit of Brooklyn and our great state. And, as a cornerstone of the community and financial partner of all sizes of businesses here in Brooklyn for over 100 years , we are excited to see this next wave of entrepreneurs take flight and create success for others to follow,” said Kevin O’Connor, CEO of Dime Community Bank.

Jeffrey Jacque of CeeBaK, wearing his safety devices designed to prevent bicycle, scooter and skateboard accidents. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

Power up! started in 2003, to help businesses after 9/11. Since then, the PowerUP! competition awarded $440,000 to nearly 200 borough entrepreneurs. Many successful Brooklyn businesses have been started with the help of PowerUP! including Bogota Latin Bistro, Island Pops, Green in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Tea, Tinsel Experiential Design, DogSpot and Greenlight Bookstore.

All participants have taken courses in topics such as marketing, corporate finance and the use of library resources. They also received one-on-one business plan assistance from successful entrepreneurs and business experts.

BPL’s Business & Career Center is supported by Dime Community Bank, lead funder of the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition, Dr Beverly S. Jacobs, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Con Edison, Reference Solutions, Elizabeth Crowell & Robert Wilson and Signature Bank.


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