Shark Tank-like competition provides micro-grants to young Durham entrepreneurs

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Young entrepreneurs took part in a pitch competition on Tuesday night with the winner taking home $800 in micro-grant funding for their business idea.

Durham SOUP featured four African-American owned businesses pitching community-oriented concepts in a competition that looked like ABC's hit show Shark Tank.

The early stage entrepreneurs made four-minute presentations to attendees, who donated $5 for a dinner of soup, salad, and bread, and then voted on their favorite pitch.

The program is modeled after a micro-granting community dinner model in Detroit.

"These aren't life-changing amounts of money," said Durham SOUP co-founder Ajay Menon. "If we raise $1,000 we are very happy. The real value we found in the Detroit program that we want to bring here is we want to empower the community, we want everyone to share their collective networks and resources, so everyone can benefit."

Jason Johnson won the competition with his concept called the H.U.B.B., a small business incubator, food truck commissary and commercial kitchen available for rent by the hour, week or month to culinary entrepreneurs wanting to try their hand at a new food or baking concept.

Johnson will get $800 raised at the Durham SOUP event and three months of free shared office space at the ReCity Network coworking space in Durham.

Three other entrepreneurs made a pitch:

Jessica Featherson - The Rare Feather - a commercial and residential cleaning company offering job to people needing a second chance.

Deborah Watkins - Toss 'N Wash - a laundry bag that can be hung from a door, maximizing space in small rooms.

Kezja Kate Goodwin - Kate's Korner Drop-In Childcare Center - offering childcare outside normal business hours.

Durham SOUP is planning another event in the spring of 2020.

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