PowerUP Business Plan Competition

2023 marked the 20th anniversary of Brooklyn Public Library's PowerUP Business Plan Competition. Check out our new commemorative webpage to read alumni success stories and get inspired by two decades of Brooklyn entrepreneurship.


Calling all Brooklyn start-up entrepreneurs as we enter the 21st year of the PowerUP Business Plan Competition.  

Since 2003, we have nurtured 10,900 individuals with over 1,800 business plans and awarded more than $650,000 in cash and in-kind gifts to Brooklyn entrepreneurs. Our success stories include more than 100 companies with passion for food and drink, health and wellness, arts and crafts, media and fashion, education, social justice, and cultural diversity–everything that makes Brooklyn great.

Watch the 2021 pitch competition below, and watch the 2020 pitch competition online here.

Some early winners, like Bogota Latin Bistro and Greenlight Bookstore, have become local institutions, while recent winners like Brooklyn Tea and Island Pops, hope to be the next generation of Brooklyn destinations.

In the spirit of the Library, we welcome all Brooklyn residents. Among our 2022 participants, 25% are immigrants/foreign born, 72% are women, and 72% have never owned a business.


  • Entrants must be 18 years of age or older, live in Brooklyn and plan to start a business in Brooklyn. Sign up for an orientation session to learn more about how to apply.
  • Winners will receive cash awards as seed capital to start a business in Brooklyn. Cash prizes of $20,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third place, and $1,000 for five merit winners will be awarded. Also, during the awards ceremony,one of the merit winners will be chosen by the audience to receive an additional $1,000!
  • The competition is administered through an online platform: https://powerup.smapply.io/ All prospective applicants must attend the orientation before applying. The orientation explains all the details of applying to and participating in the competition.
  • Participants must attend the orientation, get a Brooklyn Public Library Card, meet with a business advisor, and attend a minimum of 3 PowerUP webinar classes.
  • Participants attend Zoom webinar classes on creating business plans, marketing, financial projections, and doing business research. The financial projections and business research classes are mandatory.
  • Participants are referred to organizations in the community who offer free business counseling.
  • Business plans must follow the format and guidelines provided by the competition. Previously written plans must be revised to comply with the competition guidelines.

A well-researched plan that follows the guidelines and clearly shows:

  • A need and use for the financial award
  • How your business will provide needed products or services to the community
  • How your business will be viable and successful
  • We no longer offer the PowerUP KREYòL competition. Language support will be provided for those who speak Kreyòl and want to enter PowerUP.
PowerUP Sponsors


2024 PowerUP Orientations

Sat, April 27 | 10:00-11:30 am Central Library Info Commons Lab



Mon, April 29 | 6:30-8:00 pm

FINAL Orientation  

Tue, April 30 | 6:30-8:00 pm


2023 PowerUP! Competition

The Prize is in the Process!

Click to see the 2023 PowerUP! Winners
$20,000 First Place Award

Noël Gaskin, Jovon Browne and Cheryl Culpepper - Hemp Thyself is a licensed Cannabidiol/CBD health and skin care business with a unique focus on CBD wellness and self-care.

$10,000 Second Place Award

Jessica Hartman - Brooklyn Click and Connect will be established as New York City’s first secondhand LEGO retail shop offering a wide range of high-quality LEGO activities and programming for individuals across the lifespan and all neurotypes.

$5,000 Third Place Award

Ashley Marrero and Charles Asante - Kente Cones an inspired pop-up ice cream store, features homemade flavors with certified fairtrade ingredients imported from Africa as well as items from local farms.

$1,000 Inaugural Founders' Award

Westen Johnson and Julie Joo - The Soilless System is a patented, personal green wall and garden empowering everyone to grow their favorite greens, herbs, and vegetables in the comfort of their home.

$1,000 Audience Choice Award

Emicia Parker - Empress by Emicia

$1,200 Merit Award Winners

Asad Dandia - New York Narratives,  a walking tour company, was born out of a desire to tell the stories of the cultures and histories of New York City neighborhoods from the angle of the city’s immigrants. 

Rachel Kehinde - Gina Andremise is a jewelry brand specializing in backless stud earrings, offering a secure and convenient solution for stud-earring-wearing individuals. 

Deborah Magocsi - Eat the Invaders is an artisan foods company offering a unique culinary experience by creating delicious and sustainable food products made from invasive plant species.

Alex Morel -  Andiem makes function-focused equipment and apparel to prevent athletic injuries. Beginning with a basketball shoe designed to prevent ankle injuries, the company strives to unlock peak performance, and extend active lifestyles.

Emicia Parker -  Empress by Emicia is an art company that encompasses teaching art therapy and art education workshops in NYC public schools as well as selling art prints online.