WBENC and CAPAX Ventures are pleased to announce the winners of the first CAPAX Accelerator Program event, the Smart Tank Pitch Competition.

Hosted by WBENC, the pitch competition was held on March 30, 2021, during the WBENC 2021 Focus on the Future event series, a celebration of Women’s History Month. After a thorough application process, 10 women entrepreneurs were selected to pitch their product or idea to a panel of judges for the opportunity to win a cash grant, free consulting, and the infrastructure of a suite of support around building a brand.

The overall first-place winner of the pitch competition is Kate Jakubas, founder of Meliora Cleaning Products, a woman-owned, certified B Corp committed to making people- and planet-friendly cleaning products. Kate will receive a $10,000 cash grant, professional consulting services, and potential investment through CAPAX Ventures, for a total value of $20,000.

In second place is Orion Brown, founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox, a company specializing in hair and skincare products made for life on the go, with travel-friendly packaging and formulations that make packing, carrying (on), and using them simple and easy. Orion will receive a $2,500 cash grant and professional consulting services, for a total value of $5,000.

“All of the ladies did such a fabulous job, and our interest is peaked in all the products we saw,” says Tara Abraham, Chairwoman of Accel Inc., Partner, CAPAX and one of the Smart Tank judges. “I wish we had time to dive deeper into every business to help accelerate the delivery of these important solutions to the market.”

CAPAX Ventures, a subsidiary of WBENC-Certified Accel Inc., is dedicated to partnering with entrepreneurs like Kate and Orion to provide immediate infrastructure and support around great ideas, leveraging their existing facilities and technology and a team with deep experience in branding, marketing, sales, finance, customer experience, and supply chain.

The CAPAX thesis is that too many people secure funding but then are forced to burn through it on risky and non-growth activities. By showing up with a blend of cash and (more importantly) infrastructure and support, CAPAX helps brands grow faster and more efficiently.

We are thrilled to be chosen as a winner of the CAPAX Accelerator! As a bootstrapped women-owned business, we've had to scale in a very thoughtful manner from the very start - we're excited to continue growing our family-owned business with this grant and professional consulting services. It's an honor to be a part of a strong community of women-owned manufacturing businesses and we're grateful to CAPAX, our fellow participants in this community, and all of the other businesses (and customers) who help us keep making our people- and planet-friendly cleaning products.
Kate Jakubas
Founder, Meliora Cleaning Products
First Place Winner
The CAPAX Smart Tank Pitch Competition was such an awesome experience. They really thought through all the elements - perfecting the pitch, writing the deck... and ultimately supplying not only funding but tangible support. This is a game changer. I’m so glad I participated!
Orion Brown
Founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox
Second Place Winner

WBENC partnered with CAPAX for this pitch competition to help women-owned businesses in our network scale and grow their business, part of a larger effort to bring forward new funding opportunities and resources for WBEs.

“We are delighted to have partnered with Accel Inc. and CAPAX for this first of its kind WBENC Smart Tank Pitch competition,” says Laura Taylor, Senior Vice President, Strategic Financial Services & WBE Engagement at WBENC. “This pitch competition demonstrated the strong commitment to women’s business development from right inside our own WBE network.”

Andrew Gaeckle, Senior Director, Strategic Financial Services, adds, “These women entrepreneurs all did a terrific job. We’re excited to see their businesses grow. We look forward to launching more opportunities like the WBENC Smart Tank Pitch Competition by CAPAX to further accelerate the growth of our WBE network.”

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