The chairs lining the Lubavitch Yeshiva hall were filled with anxious family members and supporters, as the closing pitches were given for the inaugural Elevator Pitch Challenge.
Close to thirty contestants entered the competition; only six finalists remained. And they were all vying for the same $10,000 business package needed to see their businesses soar.
After a grueling two hours of pitches, questions and critiques, the judges finally announced the winners: Sara Esther Varnie from Kids Discover Israel, and Shmuly Wolff from JMenu.
“It was a very close competition, and it was an extremely difficult decision for the judges,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Werde, Director of CHYE and coordinator of the competition. “But as I’ve said throughout the competition—every person who participated is a winner.”
The proceedings began with a few words from Rabbi Werde, who thanked all the participants, sponsors, judges and supporters. “The work we do at CHYE would not be possible without the help we receive from the generous people in this community,” he said.
Each contestant was then called to the stage to deliver their business pitch before a panel of judges. The judges asked questions on the pitch, pointed out potential oversights in the business model, and then gave professional recommendations regarding scalability, competition, and innovation.
Chanie Kaminker, CEO of Hannabe Creative and a judge on the women’s panel, reminded the contestants of the rapid pace of today’s market, and the need to keep a constant finger on the pulse of that day’s trend. Today fidget spinners are all the rage; in six months no one will remember them,” she said. “Trends change so quickly these days, you have to make sure you’re always in tune with your customers and with your competition.”
Another valuable piece of advice was given by Meny Hoffman, CEO of Ptex Group. “Your customers are the key to your success,” he said. “One thing you have to always be thinking: How can I improve the customer experience, and how can I offer a better product or service.”
All three judges on the women’s panel highlighted the bravery of the contestants, and praised them for being leading examples of women who are successful entrepreneurs. “It’s inspiring to see how many women participated in the competition,” said Shaina Levin of Abba Realty.
The winners from each division were presented with a giant CHYE check, representing the $10,000 in business services they are now entitled to. The prize package—including marketing material, consulting, accounting services and office furniture—will help the winners promote and expand their businesses.
“I hope to build a website with this money, and to look into creating digital copies of my books,” said Mrs. Varnie.
Shmuly Wolff of JMenu spoke of his vision to expand his app to service the rest of the country, and, eventually, the entire Jewish world. To celebrate their victory JMenu is offering a $5 Gift card to anyone who downloads the JMenu app in the next 48 hours. All you have to do is enter IKEEPKOSHER when you check out with your first order.
Guests at the event were lucky to samples of some of the products being presented. Cold brew coffee was served courtesy of Mendy Dalfin of The Chosen Bean, and Chaya Rockford of The Me and My displayed several models of her new dolls on the stage.
“It was a most enjoyable evening for the participants, for the judges and for the crowd,” said Rabbi Werde. “We’re thankful to everyone who participated, and we look forward to doing similar competitions in the future.”
To see more of CHYE’s upcoming events, visit their website at www.chye.info