Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program 2020

2020 NMSDC Virtual Conference

Agenda | Workshops |  Watch The Replays  | Sponsors 
Award Winners | Corporation Of The Year | Regional & National Winners | EYE Pitch Competition Winners

The 2020 NMSDC Conference
+ Business Opportunity Exchange (BOE)
October 26 – 29, 2020

Pitch Competition Winners

1st Place Winner – $10,000 New Voices Foundation Business Grant and The Coca Cola Company Accelerator


2nd Place Winner – The Walt Disney Company Consulting for Six Months

3rd Place Winner- Ernst & Young LLP Consulting for Six Months

ShaKeia Kegler
ShaKeia Kegler,
Founder & CEO
Company Name: Govlia
Company Website

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Akil Alvin
Akil Alvin,
Founder & CEO
Company Name: Digital Detroit Media
Company Website

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Leyanis Diaz
Leyanis Diaz,
 Founder & CEO
Company Name: MAJOR
Company Website

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Program Highlights

The Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program took place on Monday, October 26 and Thursday, October 28.

Monday, October 26, Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program Kicked off the day with and an educational lecture taught by world-class Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College Professor, Dr. Gail Ayala Taylor, on topic of “Marketing During COVID-19”.

It was followed by a virtual panel discussion of the Next Generation – “Family Ties” with special guest moderator Ian Conyers, Former Michigan Senator and CEO, Ruth Strategies.


  • Richelieu Dennis, Sophia Dennis, Essence Ventures – Place Media
  • Frank Venegas, Linzie Venegas – The Ideal Group
  • Steve Hightower Sr, Stephen Hightower Jr – Hightower Petroleum

Thursday October 28, NMSDC continued programming with:

  • A Keynote Speaker address by Christopher Gray, Founder and CEO, Scholly
  • A Workshop with Special Guest Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder and CEO, Pipeline Angels
  • A Presentation by Ernst & Young LLP presenting on “Smart Money” Pitches and “One on One Business” pitch best practices.

NMSDC closed the two-day program with the first ever Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Program first ever pitch competition in conjunction with New Voices Foundation. New Voices Foundation provides small-business owners with access, capital, and expertise through its robust host of accelerators, online skill development resources, communications outreach, and coaching and mentorship opportunities. New Voices Foundation is delivering on its promise to help minority business owners build, grow, and scale their businesses and create a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Pitch Competition Criteria:

Participant must be an Emerging Young Entrepreneur and a participate in the program:

  • Existing business product, service, or solution (currently ready for market or already in market, not seeking an investment to launch business)
  • Solves a significant problem or addresses an opportunity in a new/inventive way
  • Have successfully submitted pitch application videos that was limited to two minutes. Note: By submitting the pitch video business owners give NMSDC permission to post and use videos for Emerging Young Entrepreneurs program purposes and related marketing.
  • May use slides, demonstrations, and or props during the live competition October 29
  • You will pitch live one at a time in alphabetical order in front of the following companies: The Coca Cola Company, Disney, RBC Royal Bank,
  • Ruth Strategies LLC, and Curly Girl Collective and EY.
  • You will have 5 minutes to pitch (You do not have to use the whole time but we want to provide the space and time since this is virtual) Points will not be taken away from your final score if you are under 5 minutes.
  • Following your pitch, the judges will have 5 minutes of follow up questions regarding your product/service.


  • Ben Tubuo, lead Strategic Sourcing/ Supplier Diversity, The Walt Disney Company
  • Ian Conyers, Founder, Ruth Strategies
  • Heather Bernecker, Associate Director, Financial Services, Ernst & Young LLP
  • Kiruba Sanker, Global Lead, Global Procurement, RBC Royal Bank
  • Gia Lowe, Founder, Glowe Group Consultancy and Co-Founder Curly Girl Collect

Pitch Competition Finalists

Akil Alvin, Founder & CEO
Company Name: Digital Detroit Media
Company Website

Leyanis Diaz, Founder & CEO
Company Name: MAJOR
Company Website

Terrence Height Jr., Founder & CEO
Company Name: The Business and Brand
Company Website

ShaKeia Kegler, Founder & CEO
Company Name: Govlia
Company Website

Ashley Martin, Founder & CEO
Company Name: Leadership Lady
Company Website

Armani Williams, Founder & CEO
Company Name: LocShark
Company Website