The Los Angles Black Investors Club (LABIC) held their second Black Business Pitch Competition last Thursday, Jan. 25 at the new Black-owned coffee shop Sip & Sonder in downtown Inglewood.
The event featured seven entrepreneurs of color who presented their business ideas to three judges and a room full of people. Not only was it a competition, but a networking opportunity as well. The beginning of the event was a 30-minute mixer with food, dessert and wine where the entrepreneurs, judges, and audience members were able to talk, share ideas and exchange contact information. Halfway through the event, there was also an intermission for everyone to mingle.
“I loved the event, it was very awesome just seeing all of the different Black people and entrepreneurs get in the room, getting together and bounce ideas off of each other,” said Raquel Parker, one of the audience members. “It was motivational seeing how organized everyone was and empowering to see that Black people are really doing things.”
Once the competition started, everyone was eager to see if the three-minute pitches would intrigue them. The businesses were all at different stages of operation and no two people had the same ideas. They ranged from event planning, to sunglasses, to office spaces that have baby sitters. There could only be one winner, however, and it was Vaughn Dabney with his Munee, LLC phone application that caught the judges’ attention. Munee, LCC is a digital wallet that allows customers to pay for their meals and items by just scanning a code at different stores and restaurants that work with Munee. More information on the phone application can be found at muneeapp.co.
The prizes included cash, a one-year subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine and a one-on-one consultation with Anthony Tucker of Choice Capital. Outside of the prizes, the competitors were able to gain experience pitching, get advice from judges who are well-versed in business, and a platform to tell more people about their business.
“We really just want to make people aware of different Black-owned businesses, whether they want to support them or have resources to help move their business along,” said Jaia Thomas, one of the board members of LABIC. “It’s also good practice on pitching and if someone is wondering what am I doing right and what am I doing wrong.”
LABIC is run by four Black women who were reviving a Meet Up group. Meet Up is a phone application that allows groups of like-minded people with similar interests to link up and meet in person. There are Meet Ups for everything from fitness, wine-tasting, game nights and more. Stephanie Ardrey, Shanita Nicholas, Amanda-Jane Thomas and Jaia Thomas all have a passion for promoting Black-owned businesses and for the last year, they have been hosting different events and mixers to connect Black business owners to each other and people throughout the city.
Along with being board members of LABIC, Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas are co-owners of Sip & Sonder. The coffee shop will open officially in early March and is located on Market St. in Inglewood. It will be a place where people can come to have a cup a coffee, get work done and network. They will also host events for different organizations looking to promote Black entrepreneurship.
“Our voice is unapologetically Black and our activism is really to create a space where we can celebrate socioeconomic diversity and the existence of a Black business,” said Amanda-Jane Thomas, co-owner of Sip & Sonder. “Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a creative, this is a place where you can connect and engage with people or just chill and have a cup of coffee.
LABIC had their first business pitch competition in October and is planning on having it every few months. To send your ideas for the next competition in April or to find out more about the LABIC, visit www.lablackinvestorsclub.org.