Small Business Wins National Center for Disability Entrepreneurship 2nd Annual Founders PitchFest Competition After Working With SCORE Mentors
Ms. Calvette Brown, Founder & CEO, of The Guiders Shield Company was the first place winner of the second annual Pitchfest, sponsored by The Viscardi Center’s National Center for Disability Entrepreneurship (NCDE) and JP MorganChase, for her invention, the Guiders Shield. Following successful clinical trials, other partners support, and mentoring with SCORE Long Island’s Sonal Patney, Ms Brown entered this competition and won:
- $25,000 for CELA Innovation’s Accelerator Program,
- $10,000 equity-free cash prize, and
- the Audience favorite #1 choice business idea.
Calvette was one of seven presenters at NCDE’s virtual PitchFest before a panel of expert judges on November 19, 2021. She had been introduced to SCORE when Lenny Buchholtz, Long Island Chapter Chair presented SCORE’s services at NCDE in August 2021.
“Calvette came to me at SCORE in September to seek help on her product idea for this PitchFest presentation,” Ms Patney says, “as well as the business model for her company, and in a short time we succeeded in coming this far through our collaborative efforts and a few mentoring sessions. William Horan, a SCORE Long Island Subject Matter Expert in government contracting contributed his expertise to help Calvette explore revenue generation sources in evaluating her business model.”
Calvette looked into the suggestions regarding the cost of materials for building her product, implemented all suggestions regarding the PitchFest competition presentation and quickly identified revenue sources in government contracting as discussed during the mentoring sessions. As a result, her winning product and presentation at this PitchFest competition is well deserved and hopefully the beginning of her success with this venture.
Ms. Brown explained what led her to invent The Guiders Shield. “It is common practice to save yourself first during an emergency situation,” she explained, “and afterward go back to help persons with disabilities and seniors when you are stable. However, as a visually impaired person who often needs guiding assistance when walking by holding onto others, I realized that COVID would change this scenario, as there may be fewer people available to help those who depend on others to get from one place to another. I thought no one else can know what we, as vulnerable populations, need better than ourselves. This is why I invented the Guiders Shield, the first ever adaptive personal protection equipment that establishes a contactless barrier for persons with disabilities and senior citizens, as well as the persons who assist them with walking or guiding.”
Calvette adds “After I was accepted into the NCDE program at the Viscardi Center, I was paired with, Sonal Patney, a Mentor with SCORE Long Island, who immediately took me under her wing. I was taking business classes through NCDE and she assisted me with assignments and walked me through the type of questions to ask in class to get the most out of communications to grow my business. She actively supported me throughout the PitchFest. I now call her my biggest cheerleader. Through the SCORE program Sonal has proven to me that mentoring does not consist of just giving directives and opinions but also involves the necessary varied perspectives, target market, coaching, motivation and the much needed tools to launch your business. Thanks to NCDE and SCORE Long Island for giving me the much necessary support, direction, and tools to embark on this business journey of building the Guiders Shield Company.”