On April 24, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and the Queens Economic Development Corporation announced the five winning teams in the 2023 Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge. Each one gets $20,000 in seed funding.
QTIC is a multi-month competition for borough-based entrepreneurs in search of funding to either launch or grow their startups. Over its course, contestants took entrepreneurial classes, participated in one-on-one office hours, and attended in-person networking events to develop their pitches. They also received technical assistance and training on such business topics as operations, marketing, and financial statements, while also enjoying access to advice from experts.
A total of 54 teams submitted applications in five categories: Enterprise Tech; Consumer Tech; Urban Tech; Community; and Food. From this pool, first-round judges selected three finalists in each category for a total of 15. Then, several second-round judges chose one winner from each category.
The Consumer Tech victors are Long Island City residents Gean Martinez and Alexander Miles of Breakthru, a learn-2-earn platform for youth to engage with companies. In Enterprise Tech, congratulations go to two more LIC residents, Jiahui Lu and Feargal O’Sullivan of Sales Slicer, a software-as-a-service business that provides sales analytics solutions to help companies increase revenue and optimize sales operations.
Jamaica’s Cuthbert A. Onikute of DalO Systems, a B2B operations-and-logistics management tool for African small and medium enterprises with waste management as the beachhead market, is the Urban Tech champion, while Jackson Heights resident Adrian Cepeda of The World’s Borough Bookshop, a Latino-owned vendor that celebrates and sells BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) books, took the honors in Community. The Food winner is LIC’s Auria Abraham of Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, a gourmet pantry brand that brings authentic Malaysian flavors to the modern kitchen.
Editor’s note: QTIC is a continuation of the Queens StartUP! Business Plan Competition, which QEDC administered for the previous 16 years.
“The winners we just announced are among the best and the brightest ‘The World’s Borough’ has to offer,” stated Borough President Richards. “Thanks to the Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge, these entrepreneurs are getting a great opportunity to showcase their ideas and are receiving crucial support to help them bring their ideas to fruition. I wish our winners and all those who competed in the Challenge all the best in their future endeavors, and I thank all of our partners in this effort for working together effectively to build a thriving technology economy in Queens.”
QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein added: “Congratulations to the winners, and I’d like to remind the finalists that they can try again next year. I’d also like to wholeheartedly thank Borough President Richards and his staffers for their time and expertise in creating this useful program. And last but not least, a hearty thanks to sponsors Resorts World New York City, Google, Flushing Bank, AT&T, Airbnb, JetBlue Ventures, Patrick Jenkins & Associates, and TechNYC.”
Caption: After the April 24 announcement at Resorts World New York City, QTIC winners stand with Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., Deputy Borough President Ebony Young, QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein, Resorts World Director of PR and Community Development Michelle Stoddart, Flushing Bank’s Ling Xu, Dwayne M. Andrews from Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates, and AT&T’s Timothy Tapia.
Photo: Rob MacKay