Boston, MA – May 25, 2023 – BUILD.org declared the winning high school team, Sweetify, from Charlestown High School, as the first-place winner of the 2023 BUILDFest Boston Pitch Challenge Presented by EY. The final round of the Challenge, which is designed to empower young entrepreneurs with real-life experiences, skills, and an entrepreneurial mindset in the Greater Boston Area, saw 9 talented ninth-grade students pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of five VIP judges at BUILDFest Boston on May 24th. The judges were: Katrina Huff-Larmond, Randolph Town Councillor; Donald Wright, Deputy Chief of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion, City of Boston; Devin McCourty, former New England Patriots player, and active community member; Midori Morikawa, Head of Corporate Citizenship at State Street; Paul Zukauskas, Former Boston College and Cleveland Browns player and founder of “We Played Sports”.
The three Finalist teams who participated in the competition were: Sneaky Snacks from Burke High School; Spirit Box from Another Course to College; and Sweetify from Charlestown High School. All teams pitched their businesses live on May 24th, after which the VIP judges announced that Sweetify captured the title of 2023 BUILDFest Boston Youth Pitch Challenge Champion. Sweetify created a low-calorie cake pop business and nailed every element of their presentation.
“I’m so proud of the work that our teachers have done over the past year to bring out the best in our students”, said Betsy Neptune, Regional Executive Director of BUILD Boston. “They spent hours coaching, encouraging and advising their students as they developed their business ideas and brought them to life. And watching the students make sales, connect with event guests and pitch confidently in front of 200 people made all their hard work so worth it!”
The BUILDFest Boston Youth Pitch Challenge is a platform for young entrepreneurs from schools and community-based organizations to compete in BUILD’s Design Challenge where they create entrepreneurial solutions to everyday challenges for people in their communities. Highlighting BUILD’s mission to arm youth with real world skills, the competition aims to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills in high school students, paving the way for a more prosperous future. Sixty-five local teams entered the competition in April, after which the top four teams competed for cash prizes.
Other highlights included the class of 2023 BUILD senior, Summer who presented our teacher awards during the speaking program. Summer received strong support from her BUILD mentor throughout her high school experience. She received a BUILD college scholarship to support her studies at Bucknell University next year! Also, Chill Being Ill from Randolph High School was the winner of our showcase, in which additional 9th-grade teams pitched their products to attendees.
As the winner of the competition, Sweetify was eligible for a cash prize of $2,000, in 2nd place was Sneaky Snacks winning $1,000, the 3rd place winner was Spirit Box winning $500.
We’re grateful for the incredible BUILD community of board members, school leaders, teachers, mentors, corporate partners, donors, and of course, our students! Special thanks to EY for serving as the event sponsor and thank you also to State Street and GoTo for their contributions to the event as well.