Fashion, coffee, and financial literacy startups won seed capital

New York, NY, Mar 05, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) today announced the Winning Business Venture and the seed capital awarded in NFTE’s 2021 National Investor Pitch Challenge, which featured young entrepreneurs from around the country pitching Shark Tank- style to secure funding for their startups. A panel of investors decided how to allocate the $15,000 prize pool and the top award went to a college student from Miami.

  • Samya Zia, a 19-year-old entrepreneur from Miami, received $9,000 to grow her business Money Moves, a video game that allows students to learn about finances, loans, and scholarships in a fun and educational way. Zia, who attended Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, is currently an undergraduate at Florida International University.

Two other young entrepreneurs were also awarded startup capital:

  • Yulisa Reveles, an 18-year-old student at Paramount High School in Los Angeles, was awarded $5,000 to kick-start her business Sewn Earth, a fashion upcycling venture that remakes and repurposes textiles from thrift stores into beautiful and modern clothing.
  • Joaquin Otero, an 18-year-old student at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Miami, was awarded $1,000 to advance his business AGRI, a next-generation Colombian coffee company.

These young entrepreneurs presented their businesses to a panel of investors during the online pitch competition on Tuesday, February 23. All three honed their business ideas while taking NFTE’s Entrepreneurship 2 (E2) course. In this advanced program, NFTE students refine their business models, develop their products or services, and master small business management skills, including sales, marketing and finance.

The investor panel included:

  • John Baer, Managing Director – Enterprise Risk Solutions, Moody’s Analytics
  • Noelle Calautti, Managing Director, EY
  • Jacob Pusateri, Vice President, Private Bank, Citigroup
  • Cesar Ramos, Executive Financial Services Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Evin Robinson, Co-Founder and President, America On Tech

“The future of business will be led by young, bright-minded entrepreneurs,” said NFTE President and CEO Dr. J.D. LaRock. “During a time when many businesses across the U.S. are facing financial strain and hardship, it’s more important than ever to support our next generation of business leaders. The NFTE National Investor Pitch Challenge connects young student entrepreneurs to mentors and experienced business leaders. We put our money where our mouth is and grant monetary funds to help kick-start businesses.”

Many notable entrepreneurs have honed their skills in NFTE classes and pitches, including Robert Reffkin, Founder and CEO of Compass, the revolutionary technology-driven real estate platform; Jasmine Lawrence, Founder and CEO of Eden Bodyworks, manufacturer and distributor of all-natural hair and body care products; and Ryan Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of Cadre, a financial technology platform for the real estate market.

For more information on the E2 students and the National Investor Pitch Challenge, visit

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 70,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 12 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-school, college, and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit


Brenda Duong/Lambert & Co

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)