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Photo courtesy of Meet the Writers
Photo courtesy of Meet the Writers
Runner up Michele Weisman of Meet the Writers.

Brooklyn Public Library’s 14th annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition awarded more than $30,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs at an awards ceremony Monday evening, December 11.

This year’s first-place winner, Jared Moldonado, was chosen by a panel of business owners, nonprofit leaders and academics from a pool of 66 entries and 12 total finalists. Moldonado was awarded a $15,000 prize as the founder of Catch-A-Ride, a bus service that will connect Brooklyn to cities in the northeast such as Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Runners-up included Joshua Bloodworth and Victor Hunt for Paragon, an online marketplace to connect building managers with contractors to compare and track bids, and Michele Weisman for Meet the Writers, a program to bring authors and illustrators into underserved schools. Each received $5,000, while five other participants received $1,000 awards.

Of this year’s participants, over 75 percent were female. Additionally, at least 80 percent of participants identified as a minority; the majority of all participants have college degrees but only half have any prior entrepreneurial experience.

According to BPL, all participants attended classes on subjects like marketing, business finance and the utilization of library resources and also received one-on-one business plan assistance from successful entrepreneurs and business experts.

“Brooklyn is home to many innovative entrepreneurs, and BPL is proud to have helped over 100 of them launch businesses around the borough,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson. “We congratulate all of the PowerUP participants tonight for their tremendous commitment and hard work.”

Since its founding in 2003, the PowerUP! contest has provided a total of more than $350,000 to over 125 entrepreneurs. It has also helped a handful of successful Brooklyn businesses launch, like Bogota Latin Bistro and Dog Parker.

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