Jersey City Entrepreneur Wins $10,000 Cash Prize During Start Something Challenge Finals
Left to Right: Robert Weiss, Head of Private Wealth Management of NJ for JPMorgan Chase; Moira Brett, CEO of GreenShave; Alfa Demmellash, CEO of Rising Tide Capital; Eugene Cornacchia, President of St. Peter's University
November 15, 2012—Jersey City, New Jersey—Moira Brett of Jersey City won the first place prize of $10,000 towards her organic shaving cream business, GreenShave, during the final round of the Start Something Challenge, a statewide small business pitch competition held by New Jersey nonprofit Rising Tide Capital.
Nearly 80 entrepreneurs from across New Jersey submitted video pitches to enter the competition. The top 30 were selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at St. Peter’s University, and from there, three were selected to win cash prizes. Samantha Music of Versor Inc. won second place ($7,500) and Hyacinth Mills of New Life Journeys won third ($5,000).
When Brett heard her name called for first place, she was in shock. “I just thought, this must be a dream,” said Brett.
Brett never intended to become an entrepreneur. In fact, she discovered her idea by accident when she messed up a batch of homemade soap one day in 2008. She tried the concoction on her legs and realized she had discovered a recipe for organic shaving cream that left her legs feeling moisturized and “silky smooth”. That would have been the end of the story but within a matter of months Brett lost a close family member, was laid off, and injured her shoulder in a bike accident.
“It was an extremely difficult period of my time but it also provoked me to think about my future differently,” recalled Brett.
To see what she could do with her shaving cream idea, she enrolled in the Fall 2009 session of Rising Tide Capital’s Community Business Academy, a 12-week course on business management and operations.
“When I signed up for the class, I had no idea my product would even sell. The class gave me a chance to test my products and gain the confidence I needed to go forward with my business,” said Brett.
With the additional free time, she also began experimenting with her recipe. After “at least a hundred tries” she perfected the product line she now sells under the brand GreenShave on her website, GreenShave.com.
With her prize money from the Start Something Challenge, Brett hopes to take her business to the next level. She plans to get her products certified organic, mass-produce her creams so she can sell them in stores, and participate in trade fairs- all steps which require startup money. She also plans to utilize her newly acquired skills.
“I never liked speaking in front of large groups, but after this competition, I’m confident that I have the public speaking skills I need to pitch my idea to investors and customers as I grow my business,” said Brett.
The Start Something Challenge is just one of a number of Rising Tide Capital programs, designed to help entrepreneurs like Brett realize their dreams. To date, 563 entrepreneurs have graduated from the organization’s Community Business Academy and hundreds more have interacted with Rising Tide Capital through its Business Acceleration Services which include monthly workshops and one-on-one coaching services.
“I had tears of joy when they called Moira’s name. Despite all of the challenges she’s faced over the years, she has persevered and kept in touch to let us know how she’s doing. To see her succeed is a wonderful affirmation of what we do here at Rising Tide Capital,” said Alfa Demmellash, CEO of Rising Tide Capital.
To learn more about Rising Tide Capital’s programs visit www.RisingTideCapital.org.
About Rising Tide Capital
Headquartered in Jersey City, Rising Tide Capital, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded with the mission to empower entrepreneurs to create and grow small businesses which transform lives and communities. The organization’s vision is to build a replicable model for high-quality entrepreneurial development services that can be adopted locally in other low-income communities to catalyze social and economic empowerment.