The Young Professionals of Wellington hosted Xcelerate Wellington 3.0 on Saturday, March 31 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The competition coincided with the final weekend of the Winter Equestrian Festival and was held just before the start of the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix.
In this year’s business competition, Matteo Ferrer finished in first place with his Versattire business shirts pitch and business plan, winning the grand prize of $10,000, awarded by Equestrian Sport Productions. Jenny Levin won the Homegrown People’s Choice Award with her Mind Games pitch, claiming a $2,500 grant, sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management.
Ferrer pitched his idea to a judging panel made up of Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, which owns and operates the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the International Polo Club Palm Beach; Jeff Brown, businessman, investor and mentor; Howard Dvorkin, founder and CEO of Consolidated Credit; and Robbin Lee, CEO of Wellington Regional Medical Center.
Ferrer, who is the head designer and CEO of Versattire, pitched the business shirts concept after a small launch of the company last month. “[We] sold to about 150 to 200 people,” he explained.
The Versattire business shirts are manufactured in Boca Raton and were described as comfortable, functional and reliable dress shirts. More specifically, Ferrer credited the shirts with being some of the only shirts on the market that will stay tucked in, will not show any sweat marks and are made to stretch and shape to one’s body, since they are made with a unique California-produced polyester blend.
“Versattire is a business that has created the most comfortable business shirt in the world,” Ferrer said.
Bellissimo attested to the softer and more comfortable feel of the product, saying that he would wear it to hang out at home. “I probably wouldn’t wear it with a suit and tie,” he said.
The target market for the small retail business is mainly the Generation X and Millennial age groups, which is generally anyone between 25 and 45 years old.
After judges Bellissimo and Brown pointed out some risks in joining such a competitive market, Ferrer showed optimism about Versattire’s future as a clothing manufacturer.
“It is a tough space, but we have a new industry and market. There are so many men and women who need and wear dress shirts every day,” Ferrer said.
Currently, Versattire business shirts are sold in black or white (for men and women) at a price of $98 per shirt. Ferrer hopes to expand color selections with the $10,000 prize money.
“We are going to be looking at different colors and patterns, [as well as] the short sleeve market in South Florida,” Ferrer said.
For more information about the product, visit www.myversattire.com.
The competition offered a range of other ideas to the judges. Logan Rae, CEO of Bacon Boxes, also presented her business, which she described as similar to the Edible Arrangements. She and her team intricately assemble different types of bacon for delivery. Some of the products produced are bacon roses, bacon brownies and bacon cookies. For more information, visit www.baconboxes.com.
Rhys Ryan’s presentation linked social media and entertainment through his Ekkobar pitch. Ekkobar would function as a portal from what social media users post online about what they are currently watching on TV to the entertainers. It would be a way to transcribe all of the data posted online about television shows in order for entertainment companies to understand what leads to drops in viewership. For more information, visit www.ekkobar.com.
The final competitor for the grand prize was Patrick Stinus with his business, Rooster. Rooster helps individuals in facilitating their business plans and aiding them in bringing their ideas to life. Rooster is for those seeking to provide others with specific services, providing them with guidance, resources and knowledge to build and run their own business. For more information, visit www.roosterlocal.com.
In the Homegrown People’s Choice Award Category, the winner, Levin, has a master’s degree in elementary education. In her presentation, she focused on the importance of getting children to interact and learn in fun ways.
“Over the years, I noticed that play dates started [relying] on electronic devices rather than interacting and communicating with friends,” she said. “I noticed that in classrooms, teachers were required to teach bell to bell rather than having free time during a school day for interactive and creative play.”
Because of this, Levin explained, she started the Mind Games after-school program. For an hour each week, students can stay after school and play board games such as Apples to Apples, Dr. Beaker, Aztec, Blokus and many other mind-stimulating games.
“Each game is STEM-based, that being science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and they all have a set lesson plan with an agenda and goals,” Levin said.
The Mind Games program began six years ago in two Wellington schools and is now taking place in over 30 Palm Beach County schools. Mind Games has proven to be so successful that it now also has a camp and field trips program. The grant of $2,500 will aid Levin in continuing to grow her Mind Games program.
“We get back to the basics of learning how to play,” Levin explained.
Also in the Homegrown category, Dr. Robin Shecter pitched her child-friendly Lickady Split Sunscreen. As a dermatologist, Shecter made it a personal goal to come up with a product that would help reduce the number of people affected by sun damage. Her Lickady Split Sunscreen is a protective product for children and adults that can be applied on the whole body, including the scalp. It is hypoallergenic, water-resistant and oil free.
Private pilot Niquelle Averkamp pitched her Fly Girl Adventures, stemming from her web site in which she documents all of the food, fun and adventure she finds in all of the different places in South Florida she and her family fly to. Averkamp aims to expand her audience to show locals all of the hidden places throughout South Florida. For more information, visit www.flygirladventures.com.