Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Prizewinners Include Plans for Tropical Popsicles, Eco-conscious Groceries and Safe ‘Parking’ for Dogs

Brooklyn, NY—Brooklyn Public Library’s 12th annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition awarded more than $30,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs at an awards ceremony Wednesday evening. First-place winner Shelly Marshall claimed a $15,000 prize for Island Pops, a frozen dessert company that will sell hand-crafted ice cream, ice pops and shaved ice in flavors rooted in Caribbean culture.

A judging panel of business owners, advisors and funders selected Island Pops and a pair of second-place winners from a field of twelve finalists. The runners-up were Sarah Metz’s The Fillery, an eco-conscious bin-and-barrel grocer that will offer affordable pantry staples and hard-to-find food items in Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, and Chelsea Brownridge’s Dog Parker, a network of pay-by-the-minute, single-occupancy kennels that can be used by owners who must leave their dogs outside while running an errand.

“Brooklyn’s reputation as the literary heart of New York is well-earned, but the borough is also home to some of the brightest entrepreneurs and most innovative businesses in the world,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “We’re proud of the PowerUP! winners, finalists and applicants, all of whom we hope will continue to avail themselves of the Library’s many free resources for small business owners.”

Since its founding in 2003, the PowerUP! contest has provided a total of more than $300,000 to over 100 entrepreneurs. Businesses launched with help from PowerUP! include Bogota Latin Bistro, Argyle Yarn Shop, Tinsel and Twine Events, Greenlight Bookstore, Inside Out Tours and Owl & Thistle General Store.

PowerUP! is supported by the Citi Foundation, with additional support from Reference USA and the members of the PowerUP! Success Council, a consortium of volunteers from the business community who assist the Library with the contest.

“Citi congratulates all of this year’s winners and the applicants who benefited from the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition,” said Colleen Galvin, senior vice president at Citi Community Development. “Citi is committed to the promotion of entrepreneurship worldwide, and we are proud to have supported the PowerUP! contest for more than ten years.”

Of the 650 people who participated in this year’s contest, more than one-quarter were born outside of the United States. Over two-thirds are women, and about 40% hold a college degree. All participants attended classes on subjects like marketing, business finance and the utilization of library resources. They also received one-on-one business plan assistance from successful entrepreneurs and business experts. Ultimately, 74 business plans were submitted for the competition.

In addition to the winners, the PowerUP! finalists included:

Merit Awards:

  • Jessica Edouard-McDonald and Warren McDonald for The Baker’s Keeper, a premier one-stop shop supplying Brooklyn’s bakers and bakeries.
  • John Garay and Elissa Garay for BQE Tours, providing culturally enriching walking tours that feature unique encounters with local artists, artisans and entrepreneurs.
  • Ryan Powers and Chris Schneider for Shipwrecked, a theatrical indoor miniature golf experience like none other, located in Red Hook.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jody-Ann Allen for Diva Designers, a subscription service that teaches young girls to make their own clothes.
  • Michaela Grob for Riverdel, a dairy-free cheese shop in Prospect Heights.
  • Byron McCray for Brush & Sip, which provides a creative outlet for painters of all ages and skill levels to express themselves.
  • Hoi Nguyen for Roll Play, a restaurant serving made-to-order Vietnamese spring rolls.
  • Courtney Sheets for Runaway Laser Studio, providing laser cutting and engraving services to local designers and small businesses.
  • Liz Tortolani for cityWell Brooklyn, the only boutique bathhouse of its kind in New York City.

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About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website:

About Citi Foundation:

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

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