Airfox awards entrepreneurs R$5,000 in Shark Tank event

Five Novos Líderes students competed to win support for their businesses

Since Airfox first partnered with Novos Líderes Empreendedores, a Brazilian NGO housed in the community of Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, over 50 micro-entrepreneurs have participated in Novos Líderes’s entrepreneurship classes and begun utilizing their new skills to start and grow their businesses.

The Shark Tank event took place on Thursday, February 13th.

At Airfox, we believe in supporting those underestimated and ignored by most traditional banks — especially small business owners working hard to pursue their dreams. To further our efforts to create financial inclusion, we sponsored the most recent Novos Líderes course this past January as well as its final Shark Tank event.

Ending the course with friendly business competition

Out of the 25 entrepreneurs who participated in this January’s course, 5 individuals were selected to compete in the final course event which was similar to the popular TV show Shark Tank where a panel of judges listen to business pitches, offer advice and criticism, and decide whether to fund a project. Novos Líderes’s Shark Tank event gave these business owners a platform to pitch their businesses and potentially win a monetary prize of R$5,000 along with opportunities for individual mentoring, agency branding packages, and public relations support.

“We have offered entrepreneurship and business classes for months to groups of young people in the community, and the result couldn’t be more rewarding. We have five great business proposals from very talented and dedicated people,” stated Bridget Alldridge, director of Novos Líderes.

To help adjudicate the event, Novos Líderes gathered a panel of highly experienced judges, or “sharks,” ranging from digital marketers to impact entrepreneurs to NGO directors. Novos Líderes’s “shark” panel included public relations consultant Isabella Cotta and Airfox’s own marketing director, Ana Peretti.

“It was an immense pleasure to represent Airfox in such an important project. We strongly believe in the work of Novos Líderes, and the project is an example of how we can impact people’s lives through education,” Ana said about participating in the event.

Meet the final five entrepreneurs

Luiza — Luiza Lou Yoga

Luiza doing yoga.
Luiza doing yoga.

With a passion for yoga, art, and philosophy, Luiza began her business, Luiza Lou Yoga, with the goal of owning her own studio. Through her business, she’s able to combine passion with profession by leading yoga classes and meditations. With the help of the Novos Líderes courses, Luiza has expanded her business to include a line of yoga mats which she hopes to expand upon in the future.

Fabiana — Rocinha em Foco

Fabiana celebrating 6 years of her company.
Fabiana celebrating 6 years of her company.

After witnessing major injustices in her community, Fabiana felt a need to act. In 2010 she started Rocinha em Foco, a Facebook page where she could facilitate conversations about inspiring events and stories which she has since monetized and turned into a self-sustaining business. She initially enrolled in entrepreneurship courses to develop her business vision and learn more about digital marketing.

Tatiana — TatiNutri

Tatiana’s face.
Tatiana’s face.

When Tatiana took over her family’s business, she always felt like something was missing. She sought out Novos Líderes for guidance, and with the NGO’s help, Tatiana found the passion she was looking for. She left her family’s restaurant and established TatiNutri — her own business that specializes in delivering healthy food and meals.

Jussara — Arte em Sonho

Jussara with her art.
Jussara with her art.

Jussara runs Arte em Sonho, a small business that sells hand-crafted personalized items and toys for children’s birthday parties. Jussara offers a range of services and products, including delicious sweets and treats. Jussara started the Novos Líderes entrepreneurship courses to enhance her business skills, develop a unique value proposition, and learn more about marketing.

Juan — Bagual Tattoo

Juan’s face.
Juan’s face.

Juan wanted to start his own business for over 5 years, but was unsure of how to go about starting one and choosing the right industry. To gain clarity and to learn more about the logistics of starting a microenterprise in Brazil, Juan joined the Novos Líderes course. With the NGO’s guidance, Juan decided to start Bagual Tattoo — a tattoo parlor where Juan and his girlfriend can share their art and designs with others.

Pitching to the panel

On February 13th, the five finalists pitched their businesses to the panel of judges. They each shared their personal story of how they came to start their business as well as their business plan, model, and ideas for future growth.

According to judge Isabella Cotta, “the most inspirational part of the event was when Fabiana from Rocinha em Foco shared why she decided to start her Facebook page. Six years ago, she and her neighbors nearly lost their homes in a big rainstorm, and from that moment on, Fabiana decided that someone should fight for the community’s rights. Even though she stopped sometimes, she never gave up. Everyone in the community now recognizes her and loves her for the work she does.”

Juan and Fabiana pitching to the “sharks.”
Juan and Fabiana pitching to the “sharks.”
Juan and Fabiana pitching to the “sharks.”

The winning projects

After five fabulous presentations, the panel of judges were asked to choose just one entrepreneur to award the R$5000 prize and PR and Digital Marketing package. However, the judges quickly realized that this was an impossible task, and instead chose to break up the monetary prize and split it between three of the finalists.

“Out of the five final projects, there were three excellent projects which were in very different stages of maturity so we decided to split the financial prize into three” said Ana.

Rocinha em Foco won first prize, which ended up being R$1000 and a mentoring package for productivity, website creation, and SEO. Although she came in first, Fabiana’s financial prize was the smallest of the three as she had already scaled her business.

Arte em Sonho came in second. Jussara was awarded R$1500 as her project is at a very early stage and needs seed money to allow Jussara to fully start her business.

TatiNutri won third place. Tatiana received R$2500, which will allow her to buy the necessary tools and resources she needs to scale her business and start advertising.

Tatiana, Fabiana, and Jussara posing to celebrate winning.
Tatiana, Fabiana, and Jussara posing to celebrate winning.
Tatiana, Fabiana, and Jussara were the winners of the Shark Tank event.

Although Sherlock Communications initially planned to give only one PR and Digital Marketing package, Isabella Cotta and her team chose to offer packages to all five of the finalists. With the support of Sherlock, these deserving entrepreneurs will be able to expand their public relations and social media presence in Brazil.

After the Shark Tank pitches, the rest of the night was spent celebrating the end of the course and the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments and how much they’ve grown since they started.

“The biggest thing is for the students to find out they are capable. These people spend their whole lives hearing that they aren’t able to change their lives, but during the course they learn a lot about entrepreneurship and about themselves” said Isabella.

Want to learn more about Novos Líderes? Read about Airfox’s partnership with the NGO here.

The five finalists with Ana and the other judges.
The five finalists with Ana and the other judges.
The five finalists with Ana and the other judges.

Accelerate financial inclusion in emerging markets using technology built with trust and inclusion. www.airfox.com