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‘Shark Tank’ Style Competition for the Youth Comes to Pittsburgh Through ‘Hope For Tomorrow’

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a “Shark” for a youth entrepreneurship programs competition. These kids were competing in the 2019 i-Own Business Plan competition in Pittsburgh, PA.

The kids are part of the Hope For Tomorrow, Inc. Program ran by Keysha Gomez, also based out of Pittsburgh, PA. This fantastic program was started to provide a safe place for children to be during summer and also as an after school program. It is unique because the participants join in the 4th and 5th grades, but stay involved until their second year of post-secondary school!

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Going in, ready to play Shark (didn’t know if I’d be more Mr.Wonderful or Mark Cuban) I knew the kids would be good… yet I was still blown away!

The level of understanding of entrepreneurship far exceeded my expectations. Not only did they have business plans, but they also had clear paths to executing these ideas!

Every one of the 5 entrepreneurs I judged was amazing, yet one stood out. Her business, Mya’s Manny’s was next level, her preparation was that of an experienced entrepreneur ready to Pitch to Venture Capitalists.

Beside me as fellow Sharks, I had some other amazing Pittsburgh entrepreneurs. Khamil Scantling who started Cocoapreneur Pgh (an amazing black business directory), Christian Moore, Founder of Preparations College Tour and also runs the local Public Allies program, and Latrice Phoenix, founder of Latrice Phoenix Photography.

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Keysha Gomez knew with the vast entrepreneurial knowledge and advice we all offered that her youth would be hard to beat come time for the grand competition, and she was right! Mya’s Manny’s won the whole competition!

Congratulations to her and congratulations to the Hope For Tomorrow, Inc. Program for providing such a needed opportunity for the youth of Pittsburgh.

While we may not be appearing on National TV as of now, I am extremely proud of myself and fellow Pittsburgh entrepreneurs for stepping up and being a resource to the youth. This is no humblebrag, we deserve to speak up on it and pat ourselves on the back.

More programs like this are needed and we will ensure that our youth have “Hope For Tomorrow!”

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Brandon Brooks
Brandon is an entrepreneur focused on helping others start or grow their small businesses through his crowdfunding platform Inventrify.

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