The Rochester Institute of Technology recently announced the winners of its inaugural business pitch contest.
Katarina Schwarz, who owns Katboocha, was one of four winners of the inaugural CUE Business Pitch competition who split a $40,000 cash prize. The business owners were selected from a pool of more than 24 submissions.
Other winners were The Groom Room Men’s Spa and Lounge, owned by Monique Chatman-Jackson; Munchie’s Roc City Empanadas, owned by Luis Carasquillo; and Pointii, an online incentive program for educators and students, owned by Lawrence Forte.
Carasquillo, or “Mr. Munchie” as he is known in the community, says that he is “taking care of the world, one empanada at a time.” He has been making empanadas professionally for more than 20 years, but with the addition of the prize money from the CUE Business Pitch competition, he’s able to take his business to the next level and create jobs.
Carasquillo plans to use his earnings to purchase an automatic empanada maker that will produce nearly eight times more empanadas than he is able to now—2,500 per hour.
The competition, which was sponsored by RIT, RG&E, Five Star Bank, ESL and the city of Rochester, was open to business owners 18 years of age and older who have an existing business plan and a business earning a minimum of $25,000 in annual gross revenue. Judges examined the businesses’ competitive advantage, marketability, industry expertise of the owner/team, financial strength of the business and company growth.
The mission of RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship is to help reshape the regional economy and build wealth within the urban community by being the hub for urban entrepreneurial programs and research.