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Meet the Top 3 Finalist: Winning $22,500 in the Start Something Challenge

Top 3 Finalist of the Start Something Challenge
Top 3 Finalist of the Start Something Challenge
Photo Credit: Jeffery Vock; Rising Tide Capital

On August 4th, final round in the Start Something Challenge (SSC) was held at the New Jersey City University West Side Theatre. Out of seventy-four entrepreneurs, thirty Semifinalist competed for financial funding for their businesses. They successfully pitched their business ideas by creating a video presentation, using the software tool, along with online and offline marketing techniques and strategies.

With over 27,232 views, the thirty semifinalist was promoted to the next round where their videos was hosted on the Start Something Challenge website for open viewing and public nomination, resulting in a total of 13,682 votes during the week of the semifinals, ending on July 27th.

Ten entrepreneurs was selected to advance to the next level which included an “On the spot” six minute business pitch followed by a three minute Q and A session with a panel of judges. They tenaciously contended leveling off their competitor until three outstanding entrepreneurs won cash prizes valuing over $10,000.

“Entrepreneur Ninotchka Johnson of Brown Mills, New Jersey took first place, winning $10,000 for her handbag and accessories company Top Notch by Design, Kimberly Sumpter, Jersey City native and owner of Wax Kandy, won $7,500 to increase production of her scented, handmade, keepsake candles, and Joanna Chmarzewska, also from Jersey City, took home $5,000 for her business Crazy for Italia which distributes waterproof, inflatable seabags,” as reported by Rising Tide Capital, nonprofit host and sponsor of entrepreneurship advancement, financial funding, business growth opportunities and expansion.

With three winners receiving cash prizes, the prize package for the top ten included a free 12 month subscription to Animoto Pro valued at $250 each, a free, one-hour webinar on how to utilize Animoto to market their businesses. They also received a free ticket to the 9th Annual Small Business Summit in New York City. The seven finalists will receive an iPad including a People’s Choice award of $1,000 at the Start Something Champions Gala which will be held on November 16th at the Hyatt on Hudson in Jersey City. MorganStanley will host a spotlight event acknowledging all ten finalists in New York City on September 16th.

Rising Tide Capital and NJCU will provide technical assistance and acceleration services to New Jersey entrepreneurs as part of a recent $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

For more information on Top Notch by Designs, please visit:

You may also visit her Facebook page at:

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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. Learn more at

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