Compass Professional Health Services is a purpose-driven business with passion for “doing well by doing good” and helping people live healthier lives. Giving back to our community is part of Compass’ DNA. That’s why I was excited to participate in “OneUp the Pitch,” a Shark Tank pitch contest for social entrepreneurs billed as “Shark Tank with a Heart.” The event was hosted by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and was part of Dallas Startup Week.Compass is a purpose-driven business and giving back to our community is part of our DNA Click To Tweet
The contest brought together five social entrepreneurs, who competed for a chance to take home the judge’s award of $75,000 and the audience award of $25,000. The contestants were top alumni or current fellows from the United Way’s GroundFloor accelerator program for early-stage social ventures and included:
- Brittany Underwood, founder and CEO, Akola Project, a luxury jewelry nonprofit that employs women in poverty to help elevate their families and communities. Last year, Akola was picked up by Neiman Marcus, and was one of the retailer’s top 10 selling jewelry brands.
- Daron Babcock, executive director, Bonton Farms, a 40-acre urban farm that provides fresh foods and is transforming a South Dallas neighborhood that has long battled crime and gang violence.
- Chad Houser, executive director/chef, Café Momentum, which provides post-release paid internships for juvenile offenders, training them in culinary, job and life skills as well as providing mentoring and support.
- Keven Vicknair, executive director, Equal Heart, which feeds families through its summer and after-school nutrition program, innovative mobile food pantry and food rescue programs.
- Bridgette Gray, executive vice president, Per Scholas, which delivers employer-driven, tuition-free, technology training and professional development while addressing larger issues of diversity and income inequality.
I’m proud to say that Compass was one of the event sponsors. The money was raised as a result of Compass employees receiving their physicals and age- and gender-specific cancer screenings in a timely manner. In addition, many Compass employees attended the event to support these social entrepreneurs.
Members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global chief executive leadership organization based in Irving, Texas, served as coaches for the contestants and helped them prepare for the live event, held April 6 at the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum.
I had the honor of coaching Daron Babcock, executive director of Bonton Farms. The urban farm plans to open a market, where they can sell fresh fruit and vegetables and provide a café that serves breakfast and lunch at discounted prices. The market will offset its costs by selling produce to restaurants, so customers who come in can buy meals at subsidized prices. It will also offer health and wellness programs to combat diabetes and other common problems.
Judges for the night were Broadcast.com co-founder Todd Wagner, rewardStyle co-founder Amber Venz Box, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Dallas Mavericks player Harrison Barnes and philanthropist Lyda Hill. They rated pitches based on innovation, sustainability, presentation and impact.
It was a tough decision, but in the end, the judges selected Brittany Underwood, founder of Akola Jewelry, and awarded her the $75,000 prize. Daron also did a great job and was the audience favorite and was recipient of the audience award of $25,000.
Proceeds from the OneUp the Pitch event benefited GroundFloor, United Way’s mentor-driven accelerator program that awards seed funding to promising entrepreneurs who are working to overcome social problems in education, income and health.
It’s exciting to see other social entrepreneurs taking steps to make the world a better place. I also loved how this opportunity gave us the chance to improve the health of our employees and impact our community all at the same time!