SEP Pitch Competition Winners

The WBENC Pitch Competition is a two-round evaluation elevator pitch competition hosted at the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair awarding $10,000 in seed capital. The competition promotes women entrepreneurship and small business development by focusing on student created, managed, and owned ventures. Students pitch their businesses to a live audience and panel of judges who provide expert feedback.




1st place:

Ya-El Mandel-Portnoy
Mount Sinai School of Medicine


Pitch: CARDEA SCIENCES is developing a novel heart monitor to risk-stratify patients with Atrial Fibrillation earlier in the course of the disease based on hemodynamic effect.

Ya-El addresses the audience at the 2016 WBENC Tribute dinner during the National Conference & Business Fair.

2nd place:

Mona Amin
Sophomore, East Carolina University

Pitch: Freshspire is a mobile application that connects consumers in real-time to local grocer markdowns. Our mission is to increase accessibility to nutritious foods, help grocers capitalize on lost revenue, and reduce food waste.

3rd place:

Emily Bocchino
Junior, Florida State University

Pitch: Campus Thrift is an online thrift store for college kids to buy and sell used goods.

l - r: Mona Amin (2nd place); Ya-El Mandel-Portnoy (1st place) and Emily Bocchino (3rd place)

Read more about the 2016 Pitch Competition winners in the WBENC blog.


Fon Powell
Cornell University

Fon Powell, a PhD candidate at Cornell, pitched her Sodium Analyte Level Test (S.A.L.T.), a medical device used at home to manage conditions including hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and kidney stones by measuring urine salt levels using a disposable stick and mobile app.

2015 1st Place Pitch Competition Winner Fon Powell address the Tribute! dinner audience 

2nd Place: 

Jasmine Curtis
Cornell University

Jasmine Curtis, a recent graduate from Cornell, pitched her line of natural hair care products, AvoCurl. The products are designed for men and women to moisturize, condition, strengthen, define curls, provide shine, and improve the overall health of naturally curly and textured hair. The formula encompasses mainly edible ingredients, which are chemical free.

3rd Place: 

Naomi Thomas
University of North Carolina Greensboro

Naomi Thomas, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, pitched her educational program mytechlife, which offers an eight-week technology workshop series for K-12 students to learn STEM in a fun and interactive way using modern educational technology products.

l - r: Jasmine Curtis, Fon Powell, and Naomi Thomas

"Where are they now?" Read more about the 2015 Pitch Competition Winners in the WBENC blog.



Alexzandria Johnson
Howard University



Juanita Weaver
NC A&T University

Juanita Weaver (center) with representatives from Shell.


Danielle Wiggins
Lincoln University