Four ninth grade student business teams pitched to guest judges Deval Patrick and former New England Patriot Jerod Mayo at the BUILDFest Pitch Challenge at the Renaissance Waterfront last night. Two students, Elvis Rodriguez and D’Ahmen Holloman, from Madison Park High in Roxbury, won the first place prize of $2,000 for their business Double Charge, a combination water bottle and phone charger. Also serving as judges were Jane Steinmetz, Managing Principal of EY, and Bill Wagner, CEO of LogMeIn.
More than 600 people attended the competition, which raised nearly $600,000 for BUILD’s four-year youth entrepreneurship program. Steve DiFillippo, CEO of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse and long-time BUILD supporter, emceed the event.
After each pitch, the four judges asked the students questions about their businesses. At the end of the night, each of the judges ended up voting for a different team as their choice. The audience, voting via an online app, served as the tiebreaker.
“The BUILDFest Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind event in Boston,” said Ayele Shakur, BUILD Boston’s Executive Director. “Where else can you see ninth grade students on stage pitching real businesses to a panel of distinguished judges? These young entrepreneurs inspire me and make me optimistic about the future.”
More than 200 ninth graders from six Boston high schools competed in the preliminary round two weeks ago, with the top four advancing to last night’s final round. The pitch challenge was the culmination of BUILD’s year-long Youth Entrepreneurship program for freshmen. The other three finalists were Orphan Socks, handmade, lost-in-the-wash themed sock puppets that come with their own unique backstories and adoption certificates; Roll n’ Go, a handmade, roll up cloth travel kit for toiletries and other travel necessities; and Razzle Dazzle, painted and hand-decorated ceramic spoon holders for everyday kitchen use.
EY was the event’s lead sponsor. More than 20 companies sponsored teams and helped students prepare for the preliminary and final rounds.