Alumnus Christopher Avolio receives $7,000 investment for bike lock holder product

NEW YORK, NY (March 15, 2023) — Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a global education nonprofit that ignites the entrepreneurial mindset in the next generation of diverse leaders, announces the winners of this year’s Founders Forum Showcase, presented by the Citi Foundation, EY, Intuit, MetLife Foundation, and SAP.

Founders of three viable businesses presented their best investment pitches on March 15, contending for a portion of a $12,000 capital investment pool.  Finalist Christopher Avolio, founder of Huldit, bested the competition to win $7,000 toward purchasing inventory and marketing his company’s U-lock holder for bikes. Kailyn, Kasi and Kehli Cage of Press Book & Wine Company earned $3,500 for their full-service café and workspace business. Hariella Lawson-Hogban won $1,500 for Mö’dji, a docu-series designed to capture the migrant experience.

“I am deeply impressed by the drive and creativity of the 50 alumni who have participated in our Founders Forum since its inception three years ago,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, president and CEO of NFTE. “Why would a founder with a Ph.D., MBA, law degree or growing business remain involved in NFTE? It’s simple. They’re supported by a professional network—a community of people who think like entrepreneurs and are driven by milestones. This community taps into NFTE’s arc of support as they progress through each stage of business development and growth. You can’t get that from Googling ‘how to start a business.’”

NFTE’s Founders Forum allows alumni entrepreneurs to prepare their launch-ready or operational businesses for investment. Judges for this year’s showcase were Srinivas Rapthadu of SAP; Nit Reeder of EY Entrepreneurs Action Network; and NFTE Class of 2000 alumnus Preet Sabharwal of SAB Group.

“Since November, this cohort of alumni has taken an investment readiness assessment, prepared pitches and worked with advisors to fine-tune investment briefs and business plans,” said Kene Turner, Director of NFTE’s postsecondary and alumni programs. “Their work culminated in the showcase – an opportunity to connect directly with potential investors.”

Founders Forum participants advance their businesses in a variety of ways—from managing sales and building capacity to projecting finances and enhancing their business model. This year’s showcase launched with 23 participants and advanced 17 to the semifinals.

For media inquiries regarding NFTE, please contact Cecilia Apodaca at 970-237-0440 or [email protected]; or Denise Berkhalter at 917-281-4362 or [email protected].


About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) ignites the entrepreneurial mindset with unique learning experiences that empower students to own their futures. A global nonprofit founded in 1987, NFTE provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle school, high school and postsecondary students. NFTE brings the power of entrepreneurship to students, regardless of family income, community resources, special needs, gender identity, race, or ethnicity. NFTE has educated more than a million students, delivering our programs in school, out of school, in-person, online, or through hybrid models. Visit to learn more.