2015-05-27 / Features

StartUP! Business Plan Winners Announced


At the announcement during Queens Taste 2015 (L. to r.); Sante Antonelli from QEDC; Edward Odom from Citi Foundation; Patricia Ornst from Delta; Esta-Joy Sydell from Esta-Joy’s Kitchen; Karen Domingo-Moran from Kidspire; Ricardi Calixte from QEDC; Amy Saekow from Tisana; Seth Bornstein from QEDC; and Tara Lannen-Stanton from Queens Library. At the announcement during Queens Taste 2015 (L. to r.); Sante Antonelli from QEDC; Edward Odom from Citi Foundation; Patricia Ornst from Delta; Esta-Joy Sydell from Esta-Joy’s Kitchen; Karen Domingo-Moran from Kidspire; Ricardi Calixte from QEDC; Amy Saekow from Tisana; Seth Bornstein from QEDC; and Tara Lannen-Stanton from Queens Library. The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) – with funding from the Citi Foundation – announced the winners of the ninth annual StartUP! Business Plan Competition, a five-month challenge-and-instruction course, during Queens Taste 2015, on May 12. The winners were awarded $10,000 each to jumpstart their businesses.

Esta-Joy Sydell, who operates Esta-Joy’s Kitchen, took top honors in the “Food-Based” category. This gourmet baking company specializes in old-fashioned, streusel-topped, fresh fruit Buckle Cakes. Made with simple, wholesome ingredients, these preservative-free delights come in transparent, eco-friendly packaging. Flavors include Blueberry Peach, Hudson Valley Apple, Hudson Valley Apple Cranberry, Hudson Valley Rhubarb, Mixed Berry, Nectarine, New Jersey Blueberry, and Peach.

In the “Community” category, Karen Domingo-Moran and her Kidspire LLC were the winners. Through summer and weekend workshops and in-school residencies, Kidspire offers educational enrichment that inspires young minds to visualize, draw, and construct through architecture and design. Students from kindergarten through the eighth grade engage in projects focusing on creative thinking, problem solving, and 3D construction while developing their spatial reasoning skills. Kidspire takes place at various elementary public schools in the borough now, but Domingo-Moran hopes to expand to other locations and eventually create a learning center.

Amy Saekow and her health products company, Tisana LLC, prevailed in the “Innovation” category. Tisana offers seasonal herbal elixirs and tonics made from organic flowers, roots, leaves, berries, and mushrooms. With almost no calories, these beverages are based on traditional, time-tested plant combinations known to enhance health. Saekow also donates five percent of Tisana’s gross profits to the Brooklyn Food Coalition and Eyes to Burma.

Over the course of this year’s StartUP!, about 350 participants received technical assistance and training on such business topics as pricing, marketing, and tax filing, while also enjoying access to entrepreneurial resources at Queens Central Library in Jamaica. Then, more than 35 teams submitted business plans to selected judges, who determined the winners.

“We are pleased to once again support the ninth annual StartUp! competition with a grant from the Citi Foundation,” said Eileen Auld, NY Tri-State Market Director, Citi Community Development. “Competitions such as StartUp! foster and encourage innovation among entrepreneurs, who as a result can potentially create jobs in communities where they are needed most.”

“Queens Library is open for business! Partnering with QEDC on the StartUP! Business Plan Competition is one of the great ways we educate entrepreneurs and support new and growing businesses. We invite businesses, large and small, to use Queens Library’s free resources to jumpstart success,” stated Bridget Quinn-Carey, Interim President and CEO, Queens Library.

“Announcing the winners of the StartUP! competition is a highlight of my year,” said QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein. “I salute all the participants for allowing us to help them become entrepreneurs.”

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