thinkBIG! Summit 21-22 – Veale Entrepreneurs

thinkBIG! SUMMIT

What Is The thinkBIG! Summit?

The thinkBIG! Summit provided a climactic close to the annual thinkBIG! Challenge by providing a platform for the Final Four Challenge teams to pitch their ideas. The finalists presented to a panel of volunteer judges as part of the full-day conference on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Other conference activities included listening to a keynote speech and panel discussion and an interactive mini-maker hackathon. The thinkBIG! Summit was held on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Covid-19 Mask Information for Events

The Veale Foundation will adhere to each venue’s individual mask mandates for events held at their locations in accordance with the CDC’s current Recommendations for Indoor and Outdoor Settings. Notification of current Covid-19 masking policies for venues will be shared with event participants in our event communications prior to the event and at sign-in tables. Please email us at programs@VealeFound.org with any questions.

Funding for travel to programs may be available to non-Forum schools. Please contact us at programs@vealefound.org for more information.

2021-2022 thinkBIG! Challenge & Summit Timeline

Entry Deadline: Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Semifinalists Announced: Monday, January 10, 2022
Executive Coaching Sessions: Friday, January 21 or Saturday, January 22, 2022
Finalists’ Live Pitch Competition: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

2022 Keynote Speaker, Emcee and Panelists

Yelitsa Jean-Charles

Healthy Roots Dolls

Yelitsa Jean-Charles is the Founder & CEO of Healthy Roots Dolls.

Yelitsa never had a doll that looked like her growing up. The one time her parents gave her a black doll, she burst into tears because it wasn’t the “pretty one”. Since then, Yelitsa has made it her goal to make sure that no other children feel the way she did about her own appearance growing up.

Yelitsa has gone from not knowing how to do her own hair at the age of 21 to teaching young girls all about their own.

Since starting Healthy Roots Dolls, Yelitsa has graduated from RISD with a BFA in Illustration and a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She has won the Startup Stampede, New Voices Fund Pitch competition, participated in the Backstage Capital Accelerator program, and was awarded the first Main Street Ventures Wendy S. Lea Female Founders Grant. In 2019, Healthy Roots Dolls took First Place and People’s Choice at the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day.

She is a 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 Honoree and to date, Yelitsa has raised $1,500,000. Healthy Roots Dolls is helping thousands of parents provide their children with a product that makes them feel seen and beautiful. Yelitsa’s mission is to make sure everyone loves their healthy roots.

Justin Lafazan

Justin Lafazan

Next Gen HQ

Justin Lafazan is the Co-founder and CEO of Next Gen HQ, the premier community and conference for millennial entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2014, Next Gen HQ has served as a vehicle to bring together the world’s most talented young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate, and inspire each other, and give them the resources they need to be successful.

Justin is an experienced entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, investor, and best-selling author.

Madison Mikhail Bush

POINT

Meet Madison Mikhail Bush, Founder and CEO of POINT. Madison jumped into the tech world at 18 to build an app as a starting point for volunteers. That app grew into a full nonprofit platform and CRM, called POINT, serving over 500 nonprofits and tens of thousands of volunteers.

After 10 years as a nonprofit leader, Madison is bringing her experience to help nonprofits better engage volunteers. Madison was named one of Columbus’ Top Entrepreneurs and was featured in Forbes. She lives between Columbus and NYC with her husband, new baby girl and giant tortoise.

Daniel Brown

Rust Belt Riders

Daniel Brown is one of the founders of Rust Belt Riders, a Cleveland-based social enterprise that provides Northeast Ohio businesses, organizations, and individuals with an alternative to landfills for their food waste. Their mission is to feed people, not landfills. Prior to starting Rust Belt Riders in 2014, Daniel held roles in community and economic development. Daniel has served on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition, Cuyahoga County’s Next Generation Council and is a National Fellow for the Environmental Leadership Program and was most recently named a 2019 Echoing Green Climate Fellow.

Anne Harrill

Océanne

Anne Harrill’s journey to bring Océanne to life started 10 years ago in the spare bedroom of her house, spending late nights crafting vintage-inspired jewelry for local craft shows, flea markets, and cherished friends & family. While her move across the ocean inspired the name Océanne, it was the vastness of that distance from anything familiar that led her to start handcrafting jewelry. As more and more people were introduced to her creations, she began to hear stories from customers about the magical ways in which Océanne jewelry helped them celebrate occasions, gave them confidence, and became a constant physical reminder of a joyous memory in their lives. These stories empowered her to keep creating and grow the brand to where it is today.

Océanne is now the evocative, beautiful, modern jewelry & apparel brand she’d always dreamed it could be. They’ve created an incredible team of talented women-makers and grown a vibrant community around their brick-and-mortar studio. Through their network of amazing stockists and the online store, they’ve been able to spread that sense of community even further.

Cal Al-Dhubaib

Pandata

Cal Al-Dhubaib is a data scientist, entrepreneur, and AI expert. He founded Pandata to help organizations plan, design, and scale human-centered AI solutions that grow their bottom line. Pandata has overseen 80+ transformative projects with leading global brands including Hyland Software, Parker Hannifin, the Cleveland Museum of Art, FirstEnergy, and Penn State University.

Cal is especially passionate about orchestrating inclusive teams that are empowered to build trustworthy AI solutions. He has been recognized as a Notable Immigrant Entrepreneur, Crain’s Cleveland 20 in their 20s, and three-time Cleveland Smart 50 recipient. In addition to becoming the first data science graduate from Case Western Reserve University, Cal is also known for his role in advocating for careers and educational pathways in Data Science through workforce development initiatives.

Mini-maker Hackathon

Students attending the 2022 thinkBIG! Summit also participated in our attendee favorite mini-maker hackathon led by the staff at Upcycle Parts Shop. After the keynote presentation, each table of students worked as teams to craft physical representations of innovative ideas made from recycled materials and create a short 60-second pitch to describe the concept. Prototypes were brought to the front of the room for judging. Four finalist teams were chosen to pitch their ideas to audience members and panel of judges. Students from the winning team were awarded prizes.

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Nicole - Upcycle
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thinkBIG! 2020

Watch the recap of thinkBIG! Summit 2020 at Case Western Reserve University.

summit finalists