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Camden Catalyst – $25,000 Pitch Competition Recap

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Camden Catalyst was a $25,000 pitch competition hosted in Camden NJ with the goal of attracting Tech Startups to the city of Camden. The first annual Camden Catalyst was hosted on October 20th 2017 featuring a judging panel consisting of leads, innovators, and people that are shaping Camden.

Camden has been an active community within the last several years due to nearly $2.5 Billion (that’s with a capital B) in tax credits given to Fortune 500 companies to move to Camden. The incentive drew many companies to the city including Holtec, Subaru, 76ers Innovation Lab, and American Water to name a few. The last several years Camden has been busy with many of its major construction along the Camden Waterfront done by Liberty Property Trust and also development of Knights Crossing overseen by Brandywine Realty Trust. The process has garnered attention from businesses and startups from the surrounding region.

Waterfront Ventures

In 2016, Waterfront Ventures, an economic development organization, joined Camden with a mission – to bring 100 startups to the city of Camden to kickstart the startup community and provide jobs/opportunities for Camden students and residents. If Waterfront Ventures is successful, they promise Camden will be a vibrant community with an abundance of jobs/opportunities with a similar ecosystem like Philadelphia. They’ve since hosted several conferences in the city including Startup Conference on May 25th of 2016, UP Conference on January 14th of 2017, and also hosted a plethora of events and programs such as Breakfast with Titans, Camden Tech Meetup, and Lighthouse Mentorship.

Birth of Camden Catalyst 3/24/17

Given their growth and development in the city, a pitch competition was inevitable. On March 24th, Bob Moul CEO of Cloudamize, Dan Rhoton CEO of Hopeworks N’ Camden, and the Waterfront Ventures team got together and created a pitch competition with a prize pool of $25,000. The plan was to have a high enough prize pool to generate buzz for Camden and also provide incentives for a startup to consider building their HQ in the city. The winning startup would have to build their HQ in the city of Camden, hire their first employee in the city, and 50% of their workforce must be Camden students or residents. With the plan in place, the team set out and created Camden Catalyst and announced it to the world.

The Practice Pitch 8/17/17

Hundreds of startups signed up within weeks of Camden Catalyst going live.  The Waterfront Ventures team’s first challenge is to call and vet each and every single startup to ensure that they meet the requirement and qualify. 102 startups qualified through the screening process. On August 17th the team created a practice pitch to help first time entrepreneurs prepare for the big day.

Camden Catalyst Pitch Competition – 10/14/17


The big day took place on October 14th 2017 at the Waterfront Technology Center. Of the 102 startups that passed screening, 40 made it to the big day to pitch. The pitch competition’s format required 2 groups of judges in order to accommodate 40 startups. The judges from these 2 groups were community leaders in Camden, non-profit organization leaders in Camden, business owners, investors, and innovators both in Camden and Philadelphia. The first round was a 90-second elevator pitch. The startup had to sell to the panel of judges in 90 seconds to move onto the round of 16. This was challenging since most of the startups have planned for a 10-minute pitch, but few were ready for a 90-second elevator pitch.

From the 40 startups that came, 16 moved onto Round 1 of Camden Catalyst.

Round 1 of Camden Catalyst

The Waterfront Ventures team opened up Camden Catalyst by sharing the mission and vision of the organization and what their hopes were for all the startups in attendance. 16 Startups will enter Round 1, and 8 Startups will move onto Round 2 of Camden Catalyst. The startups and judges divided into 2 separate rooms and Camden Catalyst officially commenced.

Round 1 Judges

Brett Buterick, Associate at Hill Wallack LLP

Shahid Rana, V.P. of Business Development at Cooper’s Ferry

Rashaan Hornsby, President at Education Over Everything Foundation, Inc.

Sean M Brown, Chief Operations Officer at DuBois Douglass Strategies

Sean O’Donnell, Partner at BALLAST IP LAW, LLP

Ryan Wertman, Co-Founder and Business Lawyer at Growth Counsel

Damon Pennington, President & CEO at ATS Group, LLC

 

Startups that pitched in Round 1

  1. Linked Noodle (Katrina Naidas)
  2. Jauntify (Dennis Pitcock)
  3. Rezzio (Jessica Sarkisian)
  4. Eoko (Jeremiah De Leon)
  5. Denial Flow (Robert Rupp)
  6. Rising Leaders (Jamia Santiago)
  7. Frostheave Fantasy Esports (Kyle Hampton)
  8. Networked (Roger Chinchilla)
  9. Invincible City Farms (Fredric Byarm)
  10. Unishare (Stephanie Huang)
  11. Engageathon (Veniece Newton)
  12. First Responders Live (James Corbett)
  13. Tribes (Liwen Ma)
  14. Nuj Health (Deboleena Dutta)
  15. Higher Hospitality (Yaz Barqawi)

 

Round 2 of Camden Catalyst

The success of Round 1 brought 8 semi-finalists to round 2 where they competed again for a seat to pitch at the Camden Catalyst Awards Ceremony & Final Round on October 20th 2017.

Judges for Round 2

Chris Kohl, Vice President & CIO at Vertex Inc.

Chuck Sacco, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives & Director of the Baiada Institute at Drexel U. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Johnathan Grzybowski, Co-founder of Penji

 

Startups that pitched in Round 2

  1. Linked Noodle (Katrina Naidas)
  2. Denial Flow (Robert Rupp)
  3. Invincible City Farms (Fredric Byarm)
  4. Higher Hospitality (Yaz Barqawi)
  5. Tribes (Liwen Ma)
  6. Unishare (Stephanie Huang)
  7. Nuj Health (Deboleena Dutta)
  8. Engageathon (Veniece Newton)

The 8 startups pitched their ideas to the panel of experienced judges in round 2 and the finalists were determined at the conclusion of the 6 hour Camden Catalyst Pitch Competition. The 4 finalists will now have time to recuperate and plan their strategies for the final round on October 20th.

 

Camden Catalyst Award Ceremony & Final Round 10/20/17


This is the biggest startup event ever held in the city of Camden. Over 470 attendees came to the award ceremony to witness the very first winner of Camden Catalyst and to celebrate the birth of an emerging tech community in Camden. Attendees ranged from CEOs and executives from the major fortune 500 companies in Camden, city officials from City Hall, freeholders of Camden, Rutgers/Rowan/Camden County College representatives, to startup founders, community leaders, investors, from both sides of the bridge.

The event was a huge success and brought everyone who shares a common dream together under one roof. Camden Catalyst was the historic day where all the business owners, executives, founders, and investors who believe in Camden came together to support a new startup coming into the city. It was a day of celebration, joy, excitement, and love.

Opening Ceremony

The event opened up with Congressman Donald Norcross sharing his hope for the city and excitement for a new age of technology. Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli followed up with a talk about his efforts to bring safety and security to Camden and elaborating on the police department’s great work in the city to lower crime rates and increase public safety.

Let the final round begin!

Katrina Naidas, CEO of Linked Noodle kicked off Camden Catalyst with her 10 minute pitch about her tech startup. Her startup Linked Noodle connect students and local instructors. Instructors aren’t limited to teaching boring education-based classes. Linked Noodle is a platform for creatives to teach what they know and love best. And allow others to join in on the fun. Prospective teachers and students meet online and end with a tangible offline connection.

Robert Rupp, CEO of Denial Flow pitched second and presented his idea on solving a $250 Billion dollar health insurance issue. The mission of Denial Flow is to bring a lean and agile software to enterprise revenue cycle management while providing clean, practical solutions at a reasonable price.

Veniece Newton, CEO of Engageathon pitched third and presented her idea of providing an incentive empowerment software for students and community. Engageathon is a software platform that provides tools for school districts, nonprofits, and corporations to improve community engagement. They will use Engageathon to promote, track, and reward student engagement, outreach, and social impact.

And finally Fredric Byarm, CEO of Invincible City Farms presented his idea of building a sustainable farm in Camden to solve the food desert problem and also provide jobs for residents in Camden.

The Winner is announced!

With much excitement and anticipation in the room, the winner of the first annual Camden Catalyst Pitch Competition is announced…Invincible City Farms! The room exploded with applause while the startups all congratulate one another and come together for a group celebration.

Camden Catalyst was an exciting event to witness and brings a different kind of energy and enthusiasm to the city. It’s a much needed energy, the kind that sparks innovation, ideas, and the kind that drives people. Now the rest of Camden will have to wait and see if Invincible City Farms can live up to the hopes and expectation that was set out for the startup.

Waterfront Ventures also announced they are currently working to put together the second Camden Catalyst for 2018.

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Camden

“I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy: Life as a Celebrity Meme

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The internet has done a lot to disrupt culture.  Once upon a time, styles, techniques, communities and information were only as transmutable as cable TV and word of mouth.  When compared to the rate of change we see today, the evolution of content has moved from a slow creep to nearing light speed.  Ten years ago the lifetime of any trend in humor could last months, and before that years.  These days, you see a popular meme “break the internet” but one week later a new one is there to take it’s place.

Imagine if Charlie Chaplin had risen to fame in this day and age through the vehicle of The Meme.  Would he still be as iconic?  As immortal?

I spoke with Steven Lee… also known as “I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy.  Steven’s meme has been sported on the front page of reddit twice and has garnered over 400k in likes and shares on social media within the first hours of being posted.  As it happens, Steven and I actually went to the same schools growing up.  However I am jealous because I cannot say that I grew up to be a world-class meme.  I got the chance to speak with him about Memeology.  Here’s what he had to say:

1.  So let’s hear about this party…  

The picture was taken in 2011, I was with my friend Dave Leek. We went to Philadelphia at Drexel Factory for a concert. The head Dj was Alesso. When we got there I found out my friend Dj Dubsef was opening so we were allowed in early. When the concert started, since we got in early we got front row, right in the middle. It was crazy we were just having a blast and I saw the photographer “ATOTHE” and I just made that pose and everyone went along with it. It was great the high from just being at the concert and all the fun I was having was crazy mainly because I was completely sober. We didn’t drink at all it was just the energy that gave me like a high feeling. Definitely an amazing feeling.

2.  Now let’s hear about this shirt…

The shirt I got back in 2010 at Comic Con NY. It was at a booth called “Seibei”. They were super nice. After I became the meme I sent them an email about it. They thanked me and I told them that I ordered another shirt from them.  They said they were going to throw in some more for me. It was amazing because I ordered two shirt but when the package came they gave me three more shirts two of them were different color versions of the “I’m Fat, Let’s Party” shirt. One in black with yellow letters and one in sky blue with yellow letters too. Another note about Seibei is that when I went to Magfest 2015 I got to meet the creator of the shirt there. He was working his friend’s booth there and I haven’t officially met him before so it was great. Once he saw me he told some customer “I’m sorry but I need to hug this man really quick.” He is an amazing man, his name is David by the way. In short, I have three different colors of the shirt.

3.  Who first memed this?  Tell me about the moment you realized it went viral.

So going back to the Photographer “ATOTHE” he posted the original photo on his Facebook page. Then someone who I still don’t know posted it to “reddit” and it blew up from there. It’s funny I never heard of reddit before that. I saw the post after 14 hours of it being posted and it already had over 400,000  reblogs and likes. It was weird because in the comments some people knew who I was, telling them I lived in NJ and that I went to high school. Some said that I quote “omgz he snapchats me everyday”. The worst part of it though was the comments about body confidence saying that I have a mental problem about my body. Then there were other people arguing about it. It was pretty nuts. Also in the comments were people who started to photoshop me into a ton of different memes.  Basically the reason it became a big deal was because it made the front page of reddit and apparently posts only get the front page when it’s discussed and reblogged a ton.

4.  How old is this meme now?  How often do you see it reappear? 

It’s about 5 or 6 Years old now. It has been reappearing all the time. It’s been on the front page of reddit now about 5 times and when it gets posted the meme evolves, which is cool.

5.  What has been the most surprising side effect of being a “meme guy” so far?

The most surprising part of being “that guy” is that people from all over the world knows the meme and some of them actually know who I am due to mutual friends. The funniest/weirdest time I got recognized was when I was working as a cashier for FiveBelow. These two kids age probably around 12 and 10. They made a comment while I was ringing them up. It was “oh must be a party over here”. I was confused at first but then I looked at them and I asked are you referring to the meme. Their faces lit up in excitement when I caught on. What made it weird is that their father was confused and asked what are you guys talking about. My response was that they saw a funny picture of me and he gave me the most confusing look ever. It was funny and weird lolz.

6.  What are your thoughts on meme culture and memes as a vehicle for humor?  What’s your favorite meme?  

The meme culture is huge, when it first started it usually was the same pictures with new phrases on them. Now new memes come out every other week. The convention I went to had a huge meme culture following in it. There were people who cosplay a meme that just got popular only a week ago. It’s crazy but I also believe sometimes people make memes and take it to a new level. Now memes are videos too. They went from pictures to videos… now that’s huge step. But again some of the memes are just too much for me and are part of that I wanna say is stupid humor like doing the stupidest things on purpose.

My favorite meme of all time?  Arthur Fist.

7.  What do you like most about your meme?  What do you like least? 

What I like most about my meme is that I met people who told me that the meme gave them the courage to go out and do things and that made me feel better about themselves. Even though I just was at a party having fun. The thing I like least about it is that some people think that I’m someone who just parties all the time and that makes them think I’m not someone who actually has a head on their shoulders. It sucks but I usually just ignore those guys because everyone has, haters am I right?
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Low Cost Business Ideas

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Low Cost Business Ideas

Here are some low cost business ideas to feed the entrepreneur inside you. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need thousands of dollars to start your own business. If you want to make it as an entrepreneur, what you really need is determination and patience in order to survive the business world. If you’re looking for low cost business ideas, you’ve come to the right place because we have some brilliant ideas you can cash in on.

1. Ride Sharing Service

Thanks to platforms like Uber, ridesharing services are becoming popular worldwide. If you already have a car, you can start this business without shelling out a dime. If all goes well you can turn your ride sharing service into a chauffeur service, or hire other subcontractors to launch your own brand.

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2018 starts with $1 Unlimited Designs with Camden Unlimited

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Camden Unlimited

The city of Camden will be ending the year of 2017 with many accomplishments, because of the launch of Camden Unlimited and other projects, Camden reported to have the highest job growth rate. Over time, Camden has successfully brought in big businesses like the Philadelphia 76ers, Holtec International, Lockheed Martin, and more to the city with the offer of over 3,000 job opportunities.

Although big businesses are beginning to crowd the area with job opportunities, the poverty level is still at a high rate in the city. There is still more work needed to be done, especially in the community surrounding the nonprofits and volunteers. With such little resources, people who dedicate their personal time to change the city have no success. This calls for the Penji project, Camden Unlimited to help.

As recently announced, the Camden-based startup, Penji is offering their unlimited graphic design service to non-profit organizations in the city of Camden for $1. This includes a new logo, event flyer, marketing materials, ads, websites, and more. There is no catch, no limitations, and no end date on this deal. The service does not end until you have everything you need. In return, the Penji team simply asks to stay true to your promise to the city of Camden and to the people within the community. There are only two requirements for the participation in Camden Unlimited: Be a nonprofit and be located in Camden. Non-profits who qualify may apply at http://Penji.co/camdenunlimited.

“Camden is rising and Camden Unlimited allows for everyone on the local level to be included in the development”. Says Penji co-founder Johnathan Gryzbowski.

The actions of Camden Unlimited will profit more than organizations, but to the citizens of the community as well. Businesses and organizations in the area will represent the city to its proper standards. Penji is gradually bringing the community together to help rebuild the city, introducing the culture to a new idea of to ‘help those who are helping others’.

The year 2017 will end with the success of Camden Catalyst, the city’s first startup pitch competition to help startups set up their headquarters in Camden with City Invincible Farms bringing home the prize money of $25,000.This also includes Hopeworks ‘N Camden receiving a donation of $420,000 to continue building on their empire for youth development. There are many more accomplishments in the city, but the year will end with the release of Camden Unlimited.

A myriad of non-profit organizations flood the city of Camden, dedicating their personal efforts to reshape the community. This ambition cannot be done without the help of other community members. There has already been a jumpstart on this concept, but if the city keeps it up, the future job growth foreseeing the next ten years of Camden is predicted to be 34.74%. As a community by working together in 2018, this will be the year for Camden. This starts with the Penji project of Camden Unlimited.

 

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