FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Espen Garner, 17 (top left), Ian Kim,18 (top right) and Giana Valencia,18 are co-founders of Cognality, the 2020 i.Invest Youth Business of the Year
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Sept. 28, 2020 – Today PR Solutions, LLC announced the winners of the fifth annual i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Four teams consisting of youth entrepreneurs, 13 to 19 years-old, were selected to receive cash and in-kind prizes after successfully completing a six-month web-based mentoring program and competition that included three rounds of scoring led by business and academic leaders from across the country. Teams were required to participate in group coaching, one-on-one mentoring, and a virtual finale pitch event. Winners were selected based on their ability to create a scalable business model using the guidance and recommendations of experienced industry leaders.
This year’s winners are:
First Place – Cognality. Developed by Espen Garner, 17, of Laguna Hills, CA, Ian Kim,18, of Fairfax, VA, and Giana Valencia, 18, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cognality is a virtual reality startup that provides cutting edge rehabilitative technology for autistic children to help mitigate the effect of meltdowns. Prize: $2,000 and the title of i.Invest 2020 Youth Business of the Year.
Second Place – AmityConnections. Founded by Karthik Ramu, 17, and Kushi Sethuram, 16, of Aldie, VA, AmityConnections is a healthcare startup working to develop a mobile platform that will connect families with the real-time health data of their eldest members so that they may have the continuous ability to monitor their health conditions. Prize: $1,000.
Third Place – The Dobber Digger. Created by Clayton Rasche, 18, of Baton Rouge, LA, The Dobber Digger is a tool that removes dirt dauber nests, a form of wasp common throughout the U.S. that build their nests out of the mud, causing a major problem for homeowners. Prize: $500.
Rising Star Award – JoJo’s Outstanding Jojoba Oil. Started by Adjo Evonlah, 18, of Germantown, MD, JoJo’s Outstanding Jojoba Oil is an all-natural hair product for all-natural hair types using avocado seeds, among other natural ingredients. Prize: $150.
To learn more about each team, visit the i.Invest website.
In addition, all finalists will receive in-kind prizes from PR Solutions LLC (New Orleans, LA), a strategic marketing and public relations firm and the founder of the i.Invest Competition; #EYECON Youth Conference (Baltimore, MD), an annual youth entrepreneurship event; Cherin Law Firm’s (Pittsburgh, PA) “Ask the Start-Up Attorney,” a no-fee virtual consulting program and My College Map (New York, NY), a college counseling and career coaching service. This year’s principal sponsor was Premier Pediatrics of Houston (Texas).
“This year’s competition will never be forgotten,” said Michelle Jackson, the program’s executive director. “The unique circumstances our applicants were forced to navigate because of the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to take on three vigorous rounds of scoring with limited access to their teachers and mentors. They soldiered through, competed with passion and excellence, and brought forth the type of business concepts that will take the marketplace by storm.”
This year’s judges included:
Amber Ravenscroft, The EdVenture Group
Anthony Dobbins, North Star Development
Atisha Patel, NotiCare
Chadd Carr, KPMG US
Desiree Young, VentureWalk
Emily Hartnett, InspireNOLA Charter Schools
Erica Rothschild, Paper Crane Associates
Gene Coulson, Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (EntreEd)
Gerard Doris, DXC Technology
Karen Zuccardi, Winrock International
Kimberly Ha, Microsoft
Latoya Staten, SecuLore Solutions
Linda Bethea, Danone
Mojdeh Bahar, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Natasha Muhammad, EYE for Change
Omar Muhammad, EYE for Change
Pamela Cook, Coca-Cola UNITED Bottling
Ryan Makhani, My College Map
Sahitya Senapathy, 2019 i.Invest Youth Business of the Year
Sarah Glatt, Paper Crane Associates
Tamecka Knight, Premier Pediatrics of Houston
Tiffany Henry, Conductor
Vernon Lee, The Marathon Fund
Vonna Matthews, CEOKID Magazine/For Her Media
The 2021 competition will start accepting applications on March 1st. 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 to register as a judge or sponsor visit, the i.Invest website or contact Michelle Jackson at email@example.com.
About PR Solutions LLC
PR Solutions LLC is a New Orleans – based 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 nonprofit business strategies. PR Solutions is the parent company of the i.Invest competition. i.Invest is a grassroots effort that receives funding and support from donations to LifeSkills Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization, and the entrepreneurial community. To learn more, visit www.prsllc.org.