Office of Business Opportunity

Liftoff Houston Press Release

Liftoff Houston Finalists to Pitch Businesses for More Than $30,000 in Prizes

October 31, 2022 -- Nine promising entrepreneurs will compete for more than $30,000 in funding during Pitch Day of the City of Houston’s Liftoff Houston Startup Business Plan Competition. The event, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is sponsored by Capital One Bank and administered by the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO).

“I commend all Liftoff Houston participants, including this year’s finalists, for taking important steps to achieve financial mobility and to serve their communities through entrepreneurship,” said the Mayor. “For the past 10 years, this competition has awarded more than $275,000 in seed money to Houstonians with dreams of starting their own business, and this has all been possible with the unwavering support of Capital One Bank.”

This year’s finalists, selected from more than 160 applicants, will compete in three categories: Service, Product, and Innovation. They are:


  • Charmeyce Buck and Frerika Varlack: Ignite Diagnostic Solutions LLC, a certified WBE, MBE, HUB, and WOSB professional analytical laboratory service committed to delivering accurate and timely results to its customers while meeting regulatory guidelines and standards.
  • Kimberly Evans: The Coterie Wine Bar & Social Club, which provides a valued experience to historically underrepresented populations.
  • Dr. Natasha Roberts: ActIVate Drip Spa, which provides medical-grade IV Drip formulas that work to eliminate unwanted toxins to permit the body to absorb 100% of the nutrients to rehydrate, refuel, and recover on a cellular level.


  • Suzanne Knobel: Bennie’s Old-Fashioned Ketchup, a producer of artisanal, small-batch ketchup made with fresh tomatoes and uncomplicated ingredients customers know and can pronounce – no weird stuff!
  • Hannah Le: RE.STATEMENT, where bold designers and sustainable consumers transform old fashion into wearable art. Engineering the circular economy of fashion, small businesses and artisans sell original, upcycled clothing that become new clothes made from used or unwanted material for buyers who recognize art when they see it.
  • Stefanie Jones: Yvonne Beauty LLC, a global beauty retailer offering a virtual personal shopping experience for Black women. Through the virtual consultation, clients are guided through the Yvonne Beauty website showing them a personalized, curated selection of products based on their needs and goals.


  • Aditya Aggarwal: Maritime XR, which intends to disrupt conventional training modalities for the maritime industry by supplementing maritime training with advanced Virtual Reality (VR) simulations.
  • Sean Carroll: Buffalo Seaweed, the first algae farm in Texas. This company aims to expand access to green technology raw material locally while rewilding the environment in Galveston Bay.
  • Terri Nguyen: SHI (Student-Homeless Impact) Educational Properties LLC, a niche, start-up real estate development company committed to building affordable modular homes that are efficient in size and construction cost to serve the purpose of providing affordable housing solutions for the communities that need it most.

To advance in the competition, participants attended a series of required business education workshops, as well as financial and business mentorship sessions. They also submitted business plans which were reviewed and judged by representatives from Capital One Bank and SCORE Houston. Participants also leveraged free business resources from the Houston Public Library and the Office of Business Opportunity to complete market research, develop marketing plans, and to create viable business plans.

The public is invited to attend Pitch Day, scheduled from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney. Seating is limited, and registration is required at: Liftoff Houston Pitch Day 2022 - Reservations - Visit us (

Those who cannot attend in person can view the competition live and vote for their Fan Favorites by watching the event on HTV Houston Television, or by livestream at @liftoffhouston on Facebook.

For more information about Liftoff Houston, go to