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Winners of Future Start-Up Star Contest Announced

Start Up Stars

Burlington County Freeholder Director Leah Arter named the winners of Burlington County College’s (BCC) Future Start-Up Star business plan competition at the finale on Thursday, Feb. 20 in the Culinary Arts Center at BCC.

“All of the judges were really impressed with the business concepts and young aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Burlington County Freeholder Director Leah Arter. “The future start-up stars showed great creativity and confidence and I look forward to seeing more from our winners.”

Two finalists in each category, BCC student, Burlington County high school student and military/veteran, presented their business plans in front of a panel of judges who then chose three winners, the top from each category.

BCC computer science student and yoga enthusiast, 23-year-old Jessica Hunter, of Willingboro, was named the BCC winner for her “iYogi” interactive yoga mat concept.

“Participating in the Start-Up Stars competition was an incredible experience, and I am beyond excited to have won,” said Hunter. “It was so encouraging to stand at the podium and see so many people get as excited as I am about my idea. This competition has definitely given me the push that I needed to make iYogi a reality, and I can't wait to introduce it to the world.”

Connor Gross and Max Haggerty, Shawnee High School juniors in Ms. DerPilbosian's entrepreneurship class and residents of Medford with a passion for social entrepreneurship and sustainable fashion, won for “Benethreads,” a charitable clothing line concept.

Army veteran, Terri Bell, of Fort Dix, urged the audience to find freedom and self-expression in the accents and details of fashion. She won for “HALAL,” a men's fashion accessory line of matching bow ties, suspenders, socks and shoelaces.

In addition to the cash prizes provided by TD Bank and gifts courtesy of the college and BCC Foundation, Kristi Ikeda-Howell, President of the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce, announced that winners who get their businesses up and running within a year would receive a free year’s membership to the Chamber, valued at more than $1,000.  

Runners-up in each category also received prizes. Shawnee High School seniors Jimmy Jenkins and Anthony Diorio, and junior Brandon Byrne were runners up for “UV Swipes, Inc.,” convenient, towelette-like sunscreen wipes. Russell Jones, of Willingboro, received second place in the BCC student category for his “StarlinkGPS” concept, a system designed for real-time active monitoring of early stage Alzheimer’s clients. Veteran Thomas Flanigan, of Cherry Hill, was runner-up for “Martian,” a voice, data, and cloud consulting organization that is one-stop-shop for a client’s Telco and IT needs.

The contest, sponsored by Burlington County College (BCC), the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and TD Bank, touched upon the workforce development initiatives at the County and the college. Students and military members learned important aspects of building a strong business and were encouraged to become tomorrow’s successful entrepreneurs.

Pictured: (left to right): Joseph Tredinnick, Senior Vice President, TD Bank, N.A. (Mercer, Burlington and Camden Counties); Paul Nelson, Private Investor/Entrepreneur; Leah Arter, Burlington County Freeholder Director; BCC student division winner Jessica Hunter; Chuck Sacco, Entrepreneur in Residence, Director of External Relations, Drexel University Charles D. Close of Entrepreneurship; Tony Mahon, Vice-Chair, BCC Foundation and President, AJM Insurance; Barry Williams, Senior Director of Indirect Channel Sales, Comcast and Chair, BCC Foundation; Rebecca Corbin, Executive Director, BCC Foundation  and Vice President of Institutional Advancement, BCC; and Paul J. Weaver, Senior Associate, RLS Associates and Principal, Lmark Business Solutions.