San Diego, CA– Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging a caring community to help transition age foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and well-being, has announced the four winners of its 3rd Annual JIT Shark Tank Competition. This entrepreneurial competition is part of the organization’s Pathways to Financial Power service, which provides career exploration resources, smart money management tips, and ongoing support for transition-age foster youth to succeed personally and professionally.
Initially, 11 hopeful entrepreneurs, all transition-age foster youth, submitted business proposals. The top four applicants were determined through a blind review process by Jon Strauss, Financial Advisor at Christopher Weil & Company, Inc., and his team. These four semi-finalists then received professional coaching from local professionals to help refine and develop their ideas into actionable business plans and build their strategy and pitches. During a Facebook Live broadcast on JIT’s page, the semi-finalists faced off in a virtual JIT Shark Tank competition for the community to enjoy. The competition can be viewed here: bit.ly/jitsharktank2020.
Winners were determined in a two-tiered process, each worth 50% of the competitor’s final score. First, each business plan was evaluated blindly by a review committee consisting of professionals who specialize in start-up businesses. Then, their pitches were reviewed by a judge panel of local San Diego professionals including: Jay Lichter, Managing Director at Avalon Ventures and President & CEO of COI Pharmaceuticals; Allen Maxwell, President & CEO of Omni2Max, Inc.; and Margo Turner, CEO of Powerminds.
Winners were announced on September 26, 2020, following a Passion Exploration Fair where seven professionals from around San Diego shared their career journeys and how passion, talent or opportunity helped them find their “success sweet spot.”
- First place was awarded to Victoria Willis, who was coached by Marty Goodman, President of Henderson Properties, Inc. Her idea, “Brunches of Bunches,” is an educational and inspiring professional podcast with a casual brunch approach where popular entrepreneurs from all walks of life can share their successes, shortcomings and advice with those in pursuit of entrepreneurship. She received a prize of a $3,000 investment toward her idea.
- Second place was awarded to Brandy Harvey, who was coached by Sam Webster, Managing Director at Community First Strategies, LLC. Her idea, “Tails & Scales,” is a pet care company that specializes in animals from the common to the exotic, offering services for owners whose pets are overlooked by traditional pet care providers. She received a prize of a $1,000 investment toward her idea.
- Third place was awarded to Emilio Carranza-Davis, who was coached by Brad Lupien, President and CEO of arc. His idea, “Focus of the Future,” is a nonprofit that would serve disadvantaged youth, 15-25, in Southeast San Diego. It welcomes them into a supportive community to help them recognize their full potential through coaching, workshops, and more. He received a prize of a $1,000 investment toward his idea.
- Fourth place was awarded to Andy Potgieter, who was coached by Neil Senturia, CEO of Blackbird Ventures, and Bob Freund, retired Principal at Synergration Solutions. Andy’s idea, “CoLive,” is an AI companion app designed to provide young mothers with guidance and support in their day-to-day life through the influence of partner celebrities. He received a prize of a $500 investment toward his idea.
“Participating in the JIT Shark Tank competition was a wonderful experience! It was the best thing that happened to me all year, and to think that I was not even going to apply because I was afraid my business wasn’t “good enough” to showcase,” shared 2020 JIT Shark Tank’s grand prize winner, Victoria Willis. “My coach and I are stoked to have received a $3,000 investment from JIT. This will allow my team and I to purchase the necessary equipment to keep our business running smoothly. But beyond the material gain, the confidence I’m leaving with is definitely allowing me to step into my business and own our future success.”
Sponsors for this year’s JIT Shark Tank include Alta Company, LLC & the Grant Family; Sue & Jay Lichter; Ron & Sandy Livingston; Charlie Joyce & Otis Eastern Service, LLC; the Swette Family; Walter and Lola Green Donor Advised Fund at Rancho Santa Fe Foundation; Gifts of the Magi Foundation Fund at Rancho Santa Fe Foundation; Kathryn Starr; Louarn & Alan Sorkin; Lily Lai Foundation, Ellen Filteau & NETFLIX; and The Lawrence and Robin Rusinko Charitable Fund of the Ayco Charitable Foundation. ###
About Just in Time for Foster Youth: Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) is a nonprofit that serves young people out of the foster care system after age 18 who leave without a safety net or a family to assist with their transition to adulthood. JIT provides a community of support to help these young adults stay on the path to self-sufficiency. Serving more than 800 youth annually, JIT is focused on stable housing, essential education, meaningful employment, financial security, reliable transportation, positive connections, confidence, and well-being. For more information, visit www.jitfosteryouth.org.