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On December 15, 7 – 8 p.m. (ET), Street Entrepreneurs presented #StreetPitch2020, a celebration of seven peer-selected founders who rose to the top among 1,000 founders.  

Street Pitch, presented biannually, is a cross between "American Idol" and "Shark Tank" — yes, with a panel of investors and experts who judge the pitches. But at Street Pitch, the founders pitch YOU, the audience! Viewers tuned in for an opportunity to vote with their money via crowdfunding campaigns, product purchases, and in-kind contributions. 

If American Idol and Shark Tank had a baby, it would be called Street Pitch," said

Street Entrepreneurs Founder and CEO Juliana Cardona Mejia. "Our Street Pitch finalists

will pitch YOU, the digital audience, and YOU will decide who gets your investment. We believe it takes a founder to know a founder, so this year the finalists were chosen by our 1,000-member cohort. #StreetPitch2020 will be filmed at landmarks in every Ward of Washington DC

using strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

–Founder and CEO of Street Entrepreneurs, Juliana Cardona Mejia

Street Pitch utilized simulcast technology to reach people globally and expand the so-called "friends and family investment round" for women and BIPOC founders in the Washington metro area.  

Our finalists seized their spot in the Street Pitch championship by completing curriculum requirements and earning the highest peer-review scores in their respective cohorts. The reviews focused on problem-insights, product-market fit, business model, and growth plans, among other things. Each of our eight cohorts congregated founders from a different phase of business and industry.  RSVP  to attend Street Pitch, sign-up to host a watch party on social media, and take part in our silent auction on November 27 – all money raised will go to Street Pitch finalists.


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Paul Joseph

Vegan Skin by Paul Joseph

Vegan Skin by Paul Joseph is an all natural, plant-based, e-commerce, skincare company. We specialize in clean products with less than 10 ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Our founder, Paul Joseph, created Vegan Skin after being diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, an autoimmune disease that manifests as boils all over the body. Our three signature products, our face and body butter, face and body scrub, and hair and body caramel, have gone on to help thousands of others whether they have existing skin woes, or simply want to achieve softer, smoother, more radiant skin! 


When Founder Paul Joseph is not working to save people’s skin from toxic ingredients, you can catch him teaching African dance classes in his community, or whipping up a delicious plant-based meal in his vegan approved kitchen. 

Jessica Dew


CLIQQ is ultimate contact sharing and relationship management app for people who want to stay in touch with each other. With one click of your phones, you mutaully exchange your contact information with someone else. But what’s next? After exchanging the contact information, you can use CLIQQ to nurture those relationships and enhance your networking soft skills. 

Jessica's background is 8 years in entertainment, media relations/red carpet coverage and former founder of a beauty and fashion tech startup. She is also an active nember of the #1 entertainment union, I.A.T.S.E. Her networking and freelancing have allowed her to work in some of the biggest productions in the world.

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Fabrice Guerrier

Syllble Studios

Syllble is the first science fiction and fantasy writers’ production house. We invite fiction authors to connect and collaborate virtually with other authors in a growing shared universe. Syllble backs writers and allows them to share resources and foster community. They help individual writers design together a fictional universe in the form of a story bible and then they use that world to write their short stories and we help them get published in scifi and fantasy magazines. 


Fabrice Guerrier is a Haitian-American author, social entrepreneur and is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2021. He is the founder of the first science fiction and fantasy writers' production house, Syllble Studios. Fabrice has worked with PEN America as their PEN Haiti Fellow to work with Haitian writers, poets and journalists. 

Maddie Boening

Sunstone Candles

Maddie specializes in the craft of candle making using 100% soy wax and excels in creating extraordinary fragrances. The concept of a surprise crystal inside stems from her love of collecting crystals and using them (crystals) and aromatherapy in mindfulness based personal practices. Maddie has been passionate about helping others all throughout her life and now aims to help others Find Their Light through the Sunstone Candles Community. 

Madeline (Maddie) Boening is the proud Owner and Founder of Sunstone Candles which was established during August 2016. 

"A healer is not someone that you go to for healing. A healer is someone that triggers within you, your own ability to heal yourself."

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Charanor Marcano


Charanor creates high fashion flat shoes and complementary accessories for powerful women of all shoes sizes who want to go from early morning meetings to late-night dinners all without having to change their shoes. They pay it forward with every step by providing leather craft classes to people who wouldn’t normally have access to it like cancer survivors at the Creative Center or teenagers at the Fashion High School.


Charanor is an accessories designer who studied and taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Charanor started her premium leather goods company in 2017 and it has grown organically over the past 3 years due to the consistent support of her customers and her passion for her work. Charanor also enjoys connecting with the community through her leather craft classes and is blessed to pay it forward while doing what she loves everyday. 

Walter Pearson

College Bound Parenting

College Bound Parenting is a unique college planning e-learning platform geared to help families guide their children to college, step-by-step. Created by a group of experienced college success coaches, former college admission counselors and educational consultants, CBP’s "Do-It-Yourself" system was developed to equip parents and students with the tools and knowledge to go to college.

Walter has held various leadership roles in college admissions consulting and college readiness for public charter high schools. Walter was Director of College Readiness for Frontier Charter Schools, Kansas City MO, where he directed the college readiness program for six charter schools. In addition, Mr. Pearson has over 10 years of experience developing educational technology solutions for organizations like Howard University,  Montgomery County  School District and the Baltimore City School District.

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Ruth Rau

Mouse Loves Pig

Mouse Loves Pig® is an independent toy brand on a mission to design toys that foster confidence, creativity, and imagination through play. Their Tiny Worlds™ and organic baby toys foster the kind of soft skills, imagination, and self-exploration that cannot be taught through skill-building play alone. Thoughtfully designed toys to bridge the gap between trendy toy of the moment and heirloom quality open ended playful goodness. Instead of edu-tainment that encourages button pushing and leveling up, Mouse Loves Pig makes toys designed to push the limits of imagination and level up creativity.

An architect and a mom of two, Ruth Rau sees toys as a design challenge. Armed with a sewing machine and a dream in 2015, what started as a fun side business has grown into a mission to disrupt the toy industry. Ruth is committed to a world of fair labor, fewer chemicals, more imagination and more JOY.


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Aaron Saunders

Founder & CEO, Clearly Innovative

With more than 25 years of software development and tech education experience, Aaron Saunders is an award-winning tech entrepreneur and author, who has founded and successfully built multiple
startups. His companies include Clearly Innovative (a mobile app agency), Luma Lab (a tech and entrepreneurship education program), In3 (the nation’s first “Inclusive Innovation Incubator”)

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Alisha Griffey

Founder & CEO, Daintree Capital

Alisha is an early stage investor and start-up veteran with over a decade of experience building & scaling ventures. She has deep expertise as a start-up COO/CFO with a focus on designing and building internal operational infrastructure needed to support rapid growth. Last year, she founded Daintree Capital last year to help provide debt capital to companies/founders that are often overlooked by traditional investors. 

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Aurelia Flores

Founder, Athena Digital Media Group

Aurelia Flores has been thinking, speaking and writing about the tool of entrepreneurship for empowerment, self-determination and wealth building for over 20 years. She is currently an entrepreneur herself, co-leading a digital marketing agency focused on using technology and data tools.  She previously practiced business and IP law for nearly 20 years. Aurelia is also an angel investor, has co-founded an angel group, and is a mentor in the startup space. 

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BJ McDuffie

Evaluation and Engagement Manager, Contractor

TechCamp Program, U.S. Department of State

BJ McDuffie is a versatile international program manager and humanitarian with 10+ years of experience in policy, public affairs, and governance. She is a creator of high-impact communications strategies that drive the visibility of grant opportunities and programs for future world leaders and titans of industry.

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Brandon Andrews

Cofounder, Gauge

Brandon Andrews is co-founder of Gauge; an AI-driven mobile market research platform connecting brands to consumers and influencers to identify opportunities and avoid mistakes. As Senior Consultant at Values Partnerships he leads the company’s work on technology and entrepreneurship, including leading a nationwide casting tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to ABC’s, Shark Tank, and building inclusive ecosystems. 

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Christopher Upperman

Manager of Governance and Strategic Initiatives, Facebook

Christopher Upperman is a corporate leader, board president, and entrepreneur advocate. His history includes Envolve Entrepreneurship, the American Entrepreneurship Award, and the Small Business Administration. He currently works as Manager of Governance & Strategic Initiatives at Facebook.

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Danielle Toussaint

Founder & Chief Storyteller, She Thinks Purple

As the founder of the creative agency She Thinks Purple, Danielle Toussaint wear many hats, including storyteller, strategist, and social impact brand whisperer. She is also the producer of PurpleCON, an annual conference for women entrepreneurs and new majority founders leading social enterprises and tech for good startups, and the author of the forthcoming book, Dare to Think Purple, which will be published by New Degree Press. 

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Duane McKnight

Managing Partner, The Marathon Fund

Duane McKnight has over 30 years of experience in early stage venture capital, as a partner at Syncom Venture Partners as well as several years as an angel investor in tech enabled opportunities with underrepresented founders. He is currently Managing Partner at The Marathon Fund, providing seed-stage funding for private companies seeking equity growth capital.

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Emmanuel Kaska

Partner, 1863 Ventures

Emmanuel Kaska is a founder, entrepreneur, experienced product manager, and designer. Right now, he is helping make dreams a reality for underrepresented founders that don't have typical mentorship or support networks.

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John Page

Founder, Groupsurfing Investor

John Page is a lifetime inventor and is renowned for project management, cybersecurity, strategic planning, and more. He is the founder of Groupsurfing Inventor and holds 5 USPTO patents.

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Kristi C. Whitfield

Director, Department of Small and Local Business Development

Kristi C. Whitfield is the Director of the DC Department of Small and Local Development (DSLBD). A former small business owner, Director Whitfield is a relentless advocate for the District small and local business community. Every day she sees to the challenge of identifying and implementing new ways to propel all District residents and businesses towards their fair shot to opportunities.

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Manny Cosme

President & CEO, CFO Services Group

An entrepreneur with diverse accounting experience and a love for sharing knowledge, Manuel “Manny” Cosme is driven to help other small businesses. Manny founded CFO Services Group in 2012 to support new, small and growing organizations with scalable accounting expertise and services beyond typical bookkeeping or tax firms.

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Maryann Lombardi

Associate Director, DC Office of Creative Affairs

Maryann Lombardi has spent the past 20 years supporting the growth of creative entrepreneurs and building the infrastructure and resources to sustain them. Currently she is working with the DC Government, community partners, and entrepreneurs to build the creative ecosystem and grow the creative economy.

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Maurice Boissiere

Founder, Higher Calling Ventures

With over 20-years of leadership experience at early-stage venture-backed companies, Maurice Boissiere has developed a unique set of skills and instincts that he now enjoys using to help founders build their ventures faster. Maurice works at DataTribe, a cybersecurity startup studio that invests in and co-builds startups, and he teaches Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. 

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Meghan Gaffney Buck

Founder & CEO, Veda Data

With over 15 years of experience working with federal and state elected officials and consulting on technology opportunities, she has experience helping people– from elected leaders to impact organizations– achieve their goals. Meghan has a growing list of accolades, including being named the 2017 Vinetta Project Venture Challenge winner, winner of the MedStar Health and 1776 #Patient2Consumer startup challenge, and many more. 

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Michelle Thimesch

Cofounder, Crowdfund Mainstreet

Michelle Thimesch has over two decades of experience as a business, real estate, and estate planning attorney. After attending Drake University Law School, she worked as a litigator and municipal finance attorney. Michelle has personally raised over $10M from investors and loves empowering under-represented entrepreneurs to embrace the process of securing investor capital on their own terms.

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Rachel Koretsky

Founder, Upace

Rachel Koretsky is the Founder of Upace: a mobile platform for recreation centers that supports facility operators and their members. Her professional experience has focused on management in fields of health, fitness, and software development. She is also the Co-organizing Chair of DC Startup Week. 

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Toby Chaudhuri

 Co-founder & CSO, SocialxDesign 

Toby Chaudhuri is Co-founder & CSO of SocialxDesign and serves on the Board of Directors at ProInspire. He has 20 years of experience working with high-profile leaders and major organizations in the high-stakes world of politics.

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William Eric Linzey

Interim Director, Anacostia Business Development Center

William Eric Linzey is the DC SBDC Host Center Interim Director of the AEDC Small Business Development Center. He is also the owner of 19Seventeen, LLC, a Business Consulting/Coaching Company. William was born and raised in the Caribbean and just loves enjoying the best of life! 

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Wolf Ruzicka

Chairman of the Board, EastBanc Technologies

Wolf Ruzicka is Chairman of EastBanc Technologies. Wolf's keen vision and strategic direction, coupled with an enthusiastic workforce, has seen the company establish itself at the frontier of technology with a reputation for game-changing excellence. He firmly believes that the world is our playground and not limited by what we see in front of us. 

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Zoe Dean-Smith

Vice President, Vital Voices

Zoë Dean-Smith is an award-winning social entrepreneur, social impact visionary with experience in economic empowerment & entrepreneurship, community development, leadership and mentoring, across sectors including social enterprise, for-profit business and non-profit organizations around the world, to provide solutions and bring positive change. 

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