Ninth Graders Showcase Entrepreneurial Skills in the BUILDFest Pitch Challenge

Four ninth grade student business teams pitched to guest judges Deval Patrick and former New England Patriot Jerod Mayo at the BUILDFest Pitch Challenge at the Renaissance Waterfront last night. Two students, Elvis Rodriguez and D’Ahmen Holloman, from Madison Park High in Roxbury, won the first place prize of $2,000 for their business Double Charge, a combination water bottle and phone charger. Also serving as judges were Jane Steinmetz, Managing Principal of EY, and Bill Wagner, CEO of LogMeIn.

Double Charge wins the BUILDFest Pitch Challenge.

More than 600 people attended the competition, which raised nearly $600,000 for BUILD’s four-year youth entrepreneurship program. Steve DiFillippo, CEO of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse and long-time BUILD supporter, emceed the event.

After each pitch, the four judges asked the students questions about their businesses. At the end of the night, each of the judges ended up voting for a different team as their choice. The audience, voting via an online app, served as the tiebreaker.

“The BUILDFest Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind event in Boston,” said Ayele Shakur, BUILD Boston’s Executive Director. “Where else can you see ninth grade students on stage pitching real businesses to a panel of distinguished judges? These young entrepreneurs inspire me and make me optimistic about the future.”

More than 200 ninth graders from six Boston high schools competed in the preliminary round two weeks ago, with the top four advancing to last night’s final round. The pitch challenge was the culmination of BUILD’s year-long Youth Entrepreneurship program for freshmen. The other three finalists were Orphan Socks, handmade, lost-in-the-wash themed sock puppets that come with their own unique backstories and adoption certificates; Roll n’ Go, a handmade, roll up cloth travel kit for toiletries and other travel necessities; and Razzle Dazzle, painted and hand-decorated ceramic spoon holders for everyday kitchen use.

EY was the event’s lead sponsor. More than 20 companies sponsored teams and helped students prepare for the preliminary and final rounds.


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1. iPhone, iPad, Zoom and Loom are all choices of recording tools for their video presentation 
2. Record with both students and their presentation in view
3. Record horizontally for the best view of the students and their presentation
4. Follow Presentation Diagram to the Right


- Make eye contact with the camera
- Notecards may be used as cue cards
•Pro Tip: Notecards should avoid having a full script
- Even when you are not speaking, don’t forget the camera is still recording!
•Be aware of your body language while you and your business partners are speaking
- Everyone has an opportunity to speak
- Professional dress is encouraged
- Practice makes perfect
•Practice how you will transition from each speaker
•Project your voice when you speak​

Follow positioning format Above

Download a Sample of Our Curriculum

Fill out this form to receive a free sample of our curriculum and to receive occasional email updates on how to bring BUILD to your community.