Category Archives: Business

Delta Personnel’s Teresa Lawrence Recognized as 2017 Women of Color Achievement Award Recipient

tl100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc., in partnership with the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), announce the honorees of the 2017 Women of Color Achievement Awards. A total of nine (9) women will be recognized for outstanding professional achievement and exemplary community service. The recipients are:

•        Lorraine Dinvaut – Marriott Moxy New Orleans Hotel

•        Michelle Gobert – Image 360 New Orleans

•        Tara Hernandez – JCH Properties+

•        Dr. Jarrett Johnson – Primary Eye Care

•        Teresa Lawrence – Delta Personnel, Inc.*

•        Luz Lobos – Synergy Design Group*

•        Marian Pierre – Crescent Guardian, Inc.

•        Joaneane A. Smith – Global Commerce and Services, LLC

•        Iam Tucker – Integrated Logistical Support, Inc.

*Current WPO Members

Sponsored by UPS, Act-1 Group, H&S Resources Corporation, SDI International, and Xtreme Solutions, the event will take place on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Renaissance Arts Hotel, 700 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130. All award recipients were identified by the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc., in collaboration with the New Orleans chapter of the WPO.

“We are very proud to continue our ongoing partnership with 100 Black Men of America and to acknowledge a distinguished group of influential women business leaders. Each one is at the peak of her professional achievement, demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities and running multi-million dollar businesses. Each also devotes significant time and energy to giving back to her local communities. We salute all of this year’s powerful award winners as role models for women and girls everywhere,” said Marsha Firestone Ph.D., President and Founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

To learn more about Teresa Lawrence and Delta Personnel, please read, The Business of Inclusiveness and visit the company website.

About 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc.

The 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) youth development organization founded in 1993 with a mission to provide support and improve the quality of life for African Americans, and youth in particular, in the New Orleans Community. The 100 is comprised of members and volunteers of diverse backgrounds and experiences with a common commitment to help youth.  Our members exemplify our motto, “What They See is What They’ll Be”, by volunteering as role models and mentors for youth involved in the 100’s programs. For more information please visit: www.100blackmennola.org

About the Women Presidents’ Organization

The WPO is the premier peer advisory organization connecting women who own multi-million dollar companies.  In monthly meetings across six continents, chapters of 20 women presidents from diverse industries invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential setting. For more information, call 212-688-4114 or visit www.womenpresidentsorg.com.  Follow us on Twitter @womenpresidents. Like us on Facebook @TheWPO.

For more information about the event contact:

Susan Johnson, Women Presidents’ Organization, sjohnson@womenpresidentsorg.com

(212) 688-4114 (Office) / (917) 601-5778 (Mobile)

Brooks Duplessis, 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc., brooks.duplessis@100blackmennola.org

(504) 208-9337 (Office) / (504) 274-7057 (Mobile)

CyberMaryland 2017: Media Recap

The 2017 CyberMaryland Conference, held on October 11-12 at the Baltimore Convention Center, attracted more than 90 speakers from across the U.S. and abroad. The two-day event showcased thought-leaders, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan; U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen; Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh; NSA Deputy Director, George Barnes; U.S. Cyber Command Director of Corporate Partnerships and Technology, Capt. Ed Devinney; Cofounder of Gula Tech Adventures, Ron Gula and McAfee VP, Brett Kelsey.

MEDIA COVERAGE

The conference’s theme, “Leading the Cyber Generation,” exemplifies the event’s goal of providing a platform where industry leaders can collaborate and educate future cyber warriors with one objective in mind – the protection of public and private critical infrastructures.

This year’s event offered eight forums and more than 25 sessions. It attracted media coverage from The Baltimore Business Journal, The Daily Record, WBAL-TV, Fox 45 Baltimore, The Cyberwire and more.

PRINT & ON-LINE PUBLICATIONS

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The Baltimore Business Journal – The message at Cyber Maryland? ‘We have to work together to better secure our nation’ – October 11, 2017

The Baltimore Business Journal (Subscription) – Why apprenticeships may trump degrees in cyber employment – October 12, 2017

The Baltimore Business Journal (Subscription) – What Maryland is doing to attract foreign cyber firms to the state – October 12, 2017

Technical.ly Baltimore – Maryland’s many government contractors could have a big role in creating cybersecurity startups – October 26, 2017

Insider MediaCyber Trade Mission Returns to USA – October 10, 2017

The Daily Record (Subscription) – Md. government and businesses urged to prepare for cyberattacks – October 11, 2017

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Event Organizer, David Powell, Chief Financial Officer, Federal Business Council, Inc. receives proclamation from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
The Business Desk.com – American trade mission highlights region’s cyber expertise – October 10, 2017

PR NewswireCybersecurity Leaders Set to Converge during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month at the 2017 CyberMaryland Conference – September 19, 2017

PR Newswire – Governor Hogan to Address Cybersecurity Professionals at 2017 CyberMaryland Conference – October 5, 2017

BROADCAST/VIDEO

WBAL-TV BaltimoreGovernor Hogan touted Maryland’s cybersecurity efforts during the annual CyberMaryland Conference – October 11, 2017

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FOX 45 BaltimoreGovernor Hogan Speaks at CyberMaryland Conference – October 11, 2017

University of Maryland University College (UMUC)Diversity Panel  – October 11, 2017

PODCAST

The CyberWireRecap of select sessions – October 12, 2017

BLOG

LinkedIn – CyberMaryland Conference 2017: Leading the Cyber Generation – Tomiko K EvansOctober 17, 2017

LinkedInCyberMaryland 2017 – Diana R. Logan – October 12, 2017

Midlands Engine CyberThe Midlands Grow Cyber State Side – October 19, 2017

To learn more, visit the CyberMaryland website.  For more information about PR Solutions visit, www.prsolution123.com.

This article will be periodically updated.

2017 i.Invest National Youth Business Competition Winners Announced

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i.Invest first place winner and founder of PrepUP, Akhilesh Khakhar, 17

PR Solutions LLC today announced the winners of the second annual i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Five teams consisting of youth entrepreneurs, 13 to 19 years-old, walked away with cash and in-kind prizes after successfully completing a six-month web-based competition that included three rounds of scoring, group virtual coaching, one-on-one mentoring and a finale pitch event.

This year’s winners are:

  • First Place – PrepUP. Developed by Akhilesh Khakhar, a 17-year-old Brooklyn, NY high-school student, the free test preparation app brings students together on social media platforms to study for the SAT and ACT college preparatory exams. The app offers an interactive, live, head-to-head match between its users. Prize: $2,000 non-equity investment, title of i.Invest 2017 Youth Business of the Year and a one-hour consulting session with Don Morrison, serial entrepreneur and chairman of deal flow at BlueTree Allied Angels and former president and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters.
  • Second Place – Face the Facts. Created by Jason Kao and Chauncey Lau, both 17, of New York, NY, Face the Facts creates apparel for environmentally conscious consumers and display graphics in a way that supports a social issue while raising awareness. Prize: $1,000 non-equity investment and a one-hour consulting session with Don Morrison, serial entrepreneur and chairman of deal flow at BlueTree Allied Angels and former president and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters.
  • Third Place – Software Flow. Daniel Mousavi, 14, of Great Falls, VA., along with his younger brother, designed a board game and interactive game app – Immigrant’s Nightmare and Immigrant Challenge – to address the immigration crisis around the globe.  Prize: $500 non-equity investment.
  • Community Investment Award – Official Clutch Band. Birmingham, AL musicians, Timothy Huffman, 19, and his brother, Wesley Huffman, 17, help form the ensemble, Official Clutch Band. Performing a wide genre of music ranging from bebop, jazz, smooth jazz, R&B classics and Motown hits, the band released its first cd in 2016. Prize: $250 non-equity investment.
  • i.Invest ‘Rising Star’ Award – HoverHouse. Riley LeHane, 13, of Rhinebeck, NY created a hoverboard party pop-up and equipment rental company. Prize: $100 non-equity investment.

In addition, all the winners will receive a one-hour marketing consultation with PR Solutions LLC, a strategic marketing and public relations firm; the opportunity to be a vendor and/or speaker during the #EYECON Youth Conference in May 2018 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD; and, the chance to participate in a “Ask the Start-Up Attorney” no-fee virtual consulting session with Cherin Law Firm located in Pittsburgh, PA.

“The i.Invest competition was an amazing learning experience,” said first-place winner, Khakhar. “What really makes it different is that, over the course of six months, the companies progress and iterate while being guided by mentors. i.Invest provides the mentorship and feedback young start-ups need when they are initially pivoting and choosing a track to follow.”

To download PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App for free, go HERE. To view the virtual finale pitch event, go HERE.

The 2018 i.Invest competition will open for online applications, March 1 – May 1. Applicants must be between the ages of 13-19 and have a demonstrable product or service to compete. The application fee is $29. To receive event updates and for sponsorship information visit, the i.Invest website or contact Michelle Jackson at mjackson@i-investcompetition.com.

Special thanks to our Silver-level Sponsor, On The Set Youth Film Camp and the i.Invest 2017 Judges & Mentors:

Andre McGregor, Director of Security, Tanium/ Former FBI Agent & Current FBI and Technical Consultant for the TV Show Mr. Robot

Artis Keith Turner, President, TurnGroup Technologies, LLC

David Tucker, Jr., Founder & Executive Director, On The Set Summer Film Camp

Dennis Martin, President and CEO, Martin Financial Solutions, LLC

Desiree Young, Founder, Venture Walk

Don Morrison, Chairman of Deal Flow, BlueTree Allied Angels

Dr. Alain Briancon, CEO and Co-founder, Director, Kitchology Inc.

Dr. Chadd D. Carr, Managing Partner, 6massive Holdings, LLC

Dr. Mansur Hasib, Professor and Author, University Maryland University College (UMUC)

Dr. Tamecka Knight, CEO & Owner, Premier Pediatrics of Houston

James Parren Courtney II, Owner, Courtney Consultants, LLC

Jeremy Hunnewell, CPA, CFO & Business Strategist, ZEHNDER Communications

Ketaki Desai, Executive Director, eCenter@LindenPointe

LaToya Staten, Chief Collaborator, LaToya C. Staten & Associates

Matthew Miessau, Analyst, Epidarex Capital

Mike Capsambelis, Product Manager, Google

Mojdeh Bahar, Assistant Administer for Technology Transfer, USDA

Natasha Muhammad, Program Director, Urban Alliance & Executive Director, EYE for Change

Omar S. Muhammad, Director of the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC), Morgan State University

Professor Jim Liew, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Regina Tillery, Director and CIO, Maryland Department of Commerce

Rex Willis, Founder & Information Technology Consultant, Hi-Tek POS

Roger London, CEO at Corporate Links

Ryan Makhani, Founder, BuildMyIdea.org and Mentor, Good Works Houston

Shrenik Jain, Founder, Beacon Health –  i.Invest 2016 Youth Business of the Year

Timothy Taylor, CPA

Vernon Lee, Founder, Brightwood Management Partners, LLC

About PR Solutions LLC

PR Solutions LLC is a strategic marketing and corporate event planning firm that specializes in working with new and established ventures to build viable business models and to integrate innovative marketing tools into for-profit and non-profit business strategies. PR Solutions is the parent company of the i.Invest competition. To learn more, visit http://www.prsolutions123.com.

 

PR Solutions CEO discusses New Orleans’ Workforce in September Issue of Biz New Orleans Magazine

Michelle D. Jackson, CEO, PR Solutions LLC

Michelle Jackson, CEO of New Orleans-based PR Solutions LLC, discusses the Big Easy’s economic drivers, including workforce development and the emerging tech start-up community, in the September issue of Biz New Orleans Magazine. 

Click to read her article, The Sweet Spot.

More on Michelle Jackson:

Jackson is the owner of PR Solutions LLC of Louisiana, a strategic marketing and corporate event planning consulting firm, Founder of the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition and Executive Director of LifeSkills Foundation, a 501 c3 organization dedicated to advocating for youth entrepreneurship. Before moving to New Orleans, Jackson worked for six years for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) where she held the positions of Director of Federal Facilities, Director of Boards and Commissions and Director of the Office of Strategic Industries and Innovations, the agency’s first department dedicated to working with start-up companies in high-tech industries. Jackson led the policy development effort to create the InvestMaryland program, a first-of-its-kind legislative initiative that raised $84 million for seed and early-stage ventures and the InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s first international business competition for advanced technology startup companies. Jackson is a military wife and published author. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The University of Alabama and Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University. 

3 HR Tips for Effective PEO-Client Relations

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The relationship between a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and its client is essential to the success of a co-employment arrangement. The responsibilities of a PEO make relationship building critical to the development of an effective human resources strategy.  Good PEOs help move the needle on business growth, making their insight and advice on matters beneficial to the clients they serve. Of the countless services provided by a PEO, the team at Delta Administrative Services (DAS) found that the sustainability of manager-employee relationships, training, managing documents and the implementation of employee policies and regulations are key HR areas growing businesses should focus on.

Since opening its doors, DAS has worked with companies across the Gulf Coast as a HR outsourcing provider. Over the years, the DAS team benefited from, as well as educated, business leaders on ways to strengthen employee relations, hire highly-skilled employees and stay in compliance with employment laws.  Here are three key take-aways that have helped DAS honed its skills in the HR industry:

#1 Enforce Equality in the Workplace
. The employer/employee relationship can be complicated. At times, it is difficult for employers to exemplify fair and equitable treatment to their entire staff. Because employers interact with their employees daily, they often develop a close net, family-oriented rapport. However, there are times when an employer makes accommodations for one employee and not others. DAS’s responsibility as a PEO is to encourage the development of rules of engagement between employers and employees and to help maintain the client’s mindset in work and compliance mode rather than friend and buddy mode. Although it can be a struggle to ensure that employers steer clear of this behavior, a PEO’s mission is to work towards providing companies the skills and knowledge needed to avoid potential employment conflicts.

#2 Build Good Relationships First
. Deciding to establish a co-employment arrangement with a PEO is an important decision to make. Handing over confidential information and trusting the PEO to implement an effective HR strategy is critical to long-term business success. A key take-away from DAS’s interactions with its clients is the importance of establishing a strong business-to-business relationship. The team’s experience, after many years in service to the business community, is to first, create an environment that ensures trust and promote collaboration.

#3 Documentation is a Wonderful Thing.
  Good documentation is critical to a HR department. Written and retained records of employment events, company policies and HR practices are instrumental to implementing the HR process. Tips for documenting disciplinary action is one of many insights the team at DAS has educated clients about. To avoid the mishandling of documentation for disciplinary actions, DAS recommends the following tip to management team members who often are required to provide verbal warnings to employees: During or immediately following a disciplinary meeting with an employee, email yourself the details of the meeting and copy the employee. Be sure to have them reply to you. By doing this, you will have a timestamp and the employee’s acknowledgement.

PEOs play an important role in a company’s HR team development. However, as the industry evolves, finding new ways to handle personnel challenges is the key to future success.

To learn more about Delta Administrative Services visit www.deltapeo.com.

Delta Personnel Named to Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies List

New Orleans’ Staffing Agency Ranks Among America’s Top Companies with Three-Year Sales Growth of 42%
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NEW ORLEANS, August 16, 2017 – Inc. magazine today ranked Delta Personnel, Inc. on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small and midsized businesses. To view the listing visit the Inc. 5000 website.

Delta Personnel, a woman-owned full-service temp, temp-to-hire and direct hire staffing solutions agency, was recognized for its three-year 42% growth. With over 40 years in service, Delta is one of the oldest staffing agencies in the Greater New Orleans area. The company has worked with local and national leading organizations including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Hilton of New Orleans, NFL, NBA, Essence Festival and Textron Marine.

“It is a privilege to join the ranks of Inc. 5000’s exceptional companies and to be recognized as a leader in business growth,” said Teresa Lawrence, CEO, Delta Personnel. “Our mission is to work within the community to support business sustainability and help companies grow. This recognition inspires our employees, clients and the New Orleans community to continue to strive towards economic progress.”

The 2017 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at Inc.com is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year average growth of 481%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs over the past three years. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

About Delta Personnel, Inc.

Delta Personnel opened its doors in 1968. Today, the company services clients throughout the Gulf Coast region. The company’s mission is to help businesses build contingent workforces by recruiting and retaining talent in fields, including industrial, hospitality, professional services and IT support. With over 900 employees, Delta Personnel is a major supplier of workers to the New Orleans area. To learn more, call 504-833-5200 or visit our website at www.deltapersonnel.com.

For more information about Delta Personnel, Inc. contact:

Michelle Jackson

Director of Marketing

504-509-7094

mjackson@deltapersonnel.com

Meet i.Invest Judge and Cybersecurity Expert, Dr. Chadd Carr

Chadd Carr
In 2017, Dr. Chadd Carr, Managing Partner, 6massive Holdings, LLP joined i.Invest as a judge and mentor. Bringing with him over 18 years in the fields of cyber investigations and intelligence, Carr has also founded and exited several services and product-based companies. His extensive experience in business development and dedication to youth entrepreneurship has been an asset to helping i.Invest prepare the next generation of business leaders.  
Tell us about your current position, why you do what you do and how it prepares you to mentor youth and youth entrepreneurs?
6massive is a company focused on conceiving, developing, and taking to market those technologies that the world will want tomorrow.  As a Partner at 6massive, I am directly responsible for a portfolio of up to 10 technologies, each with its own development cycle and market strategy, all operating in parallel.  My portfolio ranges from advanced cyber threat intelligence tools, to career apps based on artificial intelligence, to learning and certification services for federal contractors, to socially-driven mobile apps.  Usually, to expedite the go-to-market timeline, we often seek outside investment capital, which means I spend a great deal of my time pitching angel and accredited investors.  I am also a college Professor dedicated to teaching, motivating, inspiring, and mentoring the next generation of industry giants.  I have found success in converting this experience into a roadmap our younger generation can consider as they set out to capture their dreams.
What was the very first business you started and why? 
I’ve been an entrepreneur for as far back as I can remember.  I’m sure my parents can go even further back. From buying a bag of candy and selling handfuls to classmates in elementary school, to borrowing lawnmowers from neighbors and sharing a percentage of revenue with friends who actually cut the grass, to buying and re-selling things on eBay, I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship. And it was never (and still isn’t) about how many dollars I could collect that motivated me.  It was the actual process of creating value where value didn’t exist before.  One of my favorite quotes came from one of my favorite TV shows, Discovery’s Gold Rush, is  “You’re already millionaires.  The only thing is, you gotta get it out of the ground.”  With imagination, perseverance, and insane work ethic, there are almost infinite paths to success, however you define it.
What three things should all young entrepreneurs be prepared for before they create a business?
#1 It’s hard work.  Really hard.  Entrepreneur Lori Greiner [from TV Show Shark Tank] said it best, entrepreneurs are “the only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.”  It’s a lifestyle, not a profession.
# 2  It can be lonely.  Successful entrepreneurs are the ones trekking paths others don’t see value in.  A lot of what they do doesn’t make sense to others, therefore, a lot of feedback and guidance they receive from others aren’t necessarily positive.  Non-entrepreneurs like to classify outcomes as either a “success” or “failure.” Entrepreneurs typically classify something as “that worked”, or, “it didn’t work… that time.”
#3  Commit to building yourself, before you build your product.  Your best brand–your most important brand–is yourself.  Investors do not invest in businesses or technologies.  They invest in the people behind them.  Build credibility through personal and professional relationships, education, and proven history of hard work.  Those three components provide the nutrients from which your “product” will eventually grow from and thrive.  Also, the product you begin with, most likely, won’t be the same product you will end with.  However, the two constants throughout that evolution, will be your health and your family.  Protect those.  Nurture those. Despite whatever path the product takes, in the end, what you will value above all else, will be those two things.
Tell us about your biggest business failure and success.
I don’t believe in failures.  Even though I’ve had things that didn’t work at a particular time, under a particular set of circumstances, I’ve also walked away smarter and better prepared to tackle the next challenge.  Success… failure… both are part of the journey, but neither are a destination.  My wins are simply byproducts of an amazing, resilient, and incredibly patient family. If I had to name one success, it would be that I’ve been able to strike a healthy balance between my entrepreneurial insanity and helping foster a loving family.
Why is nurturing entrepreneurship important to you?
How does the saying go… in society, 97 percent of people who said it could not be done, work for the 3 percent who said it could be done?  Something like that.  As a father, I’ve always told my kids, “you can either spend your time aiming for the corner office or some fancy title (which someone else has built), or,  you can spend your time creating those corner offices and titles.”  Both paths have their own pros and cons, but I wanted my kids to grow up in a world where both were interchangeable and equally possible.  Only through observable entrepreneurship can that happen.
Special thanks to Dr. Carr for his dedication to i.Invest Competitions. To learn more about the competition visit, www.i-investcompetition.com.

17-Year-Old NY-based Entrepreneur Develops Mobile App to Prep Students for SAT, ACT Exams

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Akhilesh Khakhar, 17, of Brooklyn, NY is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. Akhilesh’s company, PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App, is revolutionizing the world of testing by bringing students together on social media platforms to study for the SAT and ACT.

Tell us about your business.

PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App is a free iOS test preparation app that provides an interactive, live, head-to-head match between its users. Users can take customized ACT and SAT practice tests, solve Questions of the Day, and view in-depth answers and explanations to thousands of questions.

What inspired the creation of PrepUP?

Two years ago, I suffered from a concussion that caused my brain to work and think differently. After months of physical therapy, I discovered that genuine interest and competitions were important in learning. I took this newly found knowledge and applied it to the development of a testing platform that would allow me to impact how high-school students studied for college-preparatory exams. I am proud to say that I am a 99-percentile scorer.

Test preparation is incredibly expensive for most households, yet is necessary to achieve the high scores required by top universities. PrepUP provides the service at no charge for everyone who needs it while bringing people together to study and compete in a fun and educational way.

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How will PrepUP impact the world?

PrepUP’s impact within the field of education and college-prep testing is groundbreaking. The venture will make B2B connections with established test preparation companies and school districts throughout the country. Students can download the application for free as part of their syllabus and lesson plans with its unique ability to personalize practice tests and tailor-made Questions of the Day. PrepUP is making studying fun and free at the same time.

What are the next steps for PrepUP?

Earlier this year, PrepUP became available at the iTunes app store. PrepUP is seeking to raise $50,000 to optimize the application and make it available for all mobile platforms.

To download the app, go to: PrepUP Website

To stay abreast of PrepUP’s progress in the i.Invest Competition, sign up for our newsletter at www.i-investcompetition.com. To mentor or invest in the company, email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Akhilesh!

17-Year-Old Social Entrepreneurs Set to Create ‘Cause’ Apparel to Raise Environmental Awareness

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Jason Kao and Chauncey Lau, both 17, of New York, NY, are one of the teams competing in this year’s i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. As co-founders of Face the Facts (FtF) and students at Stuyvesant High School, Jason and Chauncey combined their passion for environmental awareness and fashion to create message t-shirts to support social causes.

Tell us about your business.

FtF creates apparel for environmentally conscious consumers and display graphics in a way that supports an environmental issue while raising awareness. For example, if someone wanted to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of carbon dioxide emissions on ocean acidification, instead of purchasing traditional activist apparel, they would buy FtF’s Ocean Acidification t-shirt, a scatter plot of shellfish and plankton populations versus world carbon dioxide emissions. The plot would show an obvious negative linear correlation between sea life and carbon dioxide emissions. Despite using complicated algorithms to create the graphic, the data visualization of FtF’s apparel are not only intuitive to the eye, but bring awareness to social and environmental issues facing the global community.

What inspired the creation of FtF?

Our goal is to change the aura of mistrust created in both modern-day media and politics regarding environmentalism and climate change by incorporating art, design, statistics, and storytelling into our clothing line.

What challenges will FtF need to overcome to be successful?

FtF’s target audience lives in New York City, a fast-paced cultural Mecca with a population of 11 million. Inhabitants of the five Boroughs are bombarded and overstimulated by both media and social marketing daily. FtF will create eye-catching graphics that grab the attention of activists.

How will FtF impact the world?

FtF will provide activists everywhere the opportunity to display irrefutable and indisputable evidence regarding their cause, and combat skepticism to the misinformed public.

What are the next steps for FtF?

FtF’s goal is to raise funds to start the production of our apparel line.

To stay abreast of FtF’s progress in the i.Invest Competition, sign up for our newsletter at www.i-investcompetition.com. To mentor or invest, email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Jason and Chauncey!

Birmingham Brother Duo Turn Love of Music into Business Venture

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Timothy Huffman, 19, and Wesley Huffman, 17, of Birmingham, AL, are one of the teams competing in this year’s i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. The brothers took their performance talents, avid love of music, and eccentric repertoire and created their family-friendly ensemble called, Official Clutch Band.

Tell us about your business.

Official Clutch Band performs a wide genre of music ranging from bebop, jazz, smooth jazz, R&B classics and Motown hits. The band, accompanied by two lead vocalists, provides both live music and DJ/party music services for one affordable fee.

What inspired the creation of Official Clutch Band?

Our love of music fuels our passion to excel in the music business. Inspired by the late Dr. Frank Adams, Sr. a charter member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and achiever in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, we want to carry on his legacy of providing good music for people to enjoy.

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How will Official Clutch Band impact the world?

Although the target audience lives in Birmingham, Alabama, the band hopes to demonstrate music’s social impact by exposing and engaging audiences to different genres during each performance.

What are the next steps for Official Clutch Band?

Securing a fan base and making music accessible will be the key to the band’s success. The next steps are to make our music available on iTunes, Spotify, LiveStream, Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud for promotions and exposure. Also, we are seeking $10,000 in investments. The funds will be used to purchase equipment, distribution, promotion, advertising and sponsorship.

To learn more about Official Clutch Band visit: www.officialclutchband.com.

To stay abreast of Official Clutch Band’s progress in the i.Invest Competition, sign up for our newsletter at www.i-investcompetition.com. To mentor or invest in the company, email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Timothy and Wesley!