NGLCC’s LGBT Sip & Pitch Program: Niche Businesses Present Their Latest and Greatest Ideas

| By Kaela Roeder

Another round of LGBT Sip & Pitch took place on May 29, an event for LGBT business owners to present their business ideas, hear advice from corporate professionals and network over coffee and cocktails. Corporate Partner Target partnered with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to present this event.

As our co-founders recently highlighted in an op-ed with the Washington Blade, programs like this that highlight diverse industry leaders have never been more important. “That sense of togetherness is amplified exponentially as we have arrived at both Pride season and this unprecedented moment of awakening for racial and economic justice throughout our country. While small business powers America, diversity powers our movement-- and always has.”

This week, six businesses presented their ideas to our panel of judges: Charlene Vickers of Johnson and Johnson, Dana Glick and Nick Graham of PepsiCo, and Jessica Lozano-Williams of Target. Many participants voiced their thoughts on the business pitches in the chat box, as well.

The first business presentation was by Azia Parker of Magic Waste Management, a solid waste and recycling company that acts as the connection between the businesses and trash haulers for those companies focused on the south Florida region.

Parker explained that signing directly with a trash hauler can be frustrating and unpredictable because of confusing contracts and steep pricing models. Simply put, Magic Waste Management acts as account managers for a given company’s waste. The company is also looking into establishing composting and medical waste services in the future.

Nicholas Rush, a registered dietician and founder Urban Nutrition Consultants, also presented. Urban Nutrition Consultants is a telehealth private practice that provides health coaching and nutrition advice. The company offers services such as health education, weight management classes and athletic coaching.

Rush was inspired to create Urban Nutrition Consultants because of the lack of programs that work in preventing disease and other health concerns. Rush’s goal is to hire more dietitians and expand his company, all with a niche health market in mind. For example, Rush specifically seeks to help the LGBT community in his services.

Certified LGBTBE® Parco Protective Backpacks based in Austin, Texas, was up next. Josh Daspit, the CEO and founder of the company, founded his company to  “keep people safe in a way that is both stylish and smart.”

Daspit was moved by the notorious uptick of mass shootings in the U.S. He wanted to create a backpack that would be bulletproof, well-made, TSA-friendly and appealing to the customer. Parco Protective Backpacks sell to individual consumers and companies.

Brian Gorman, the founder of Certified LGBTBE® Transforming Lives.Coach, presented his dynamic consulting firm for the panel. Gorman helps coach individuals, teams and businesses to help build confidence and boost creativity.

“My clients are heroes, and I am their sherpa,” he said. Gorman encourages his clients to keep their future goals and passions in mind.

Gorman also presented at the NGLCC Webinar Wednesday program on how to regain stability and control during the COVID-19 crisis. To watch this program, click here.

The next presentation at the program was by Angelique Williams, the founder and CEO of MyUmbrella. This company was founded as a social media platform for the LGBT community, but has changed to fill a different need. Williams has adapted the platform to be a creative outlet and network for the LGBT community.

On MyUmbrella, LGBT writers can share their stories online - for free! Williams helps writers edit their work to be published and creates graphics to be paired with their pieces. Writers submitting their stories are coming from all around the world, from the US, to India, to Malaysia.

Keen Social founder Esteven Gamez, was the last presenter of the afternoon. Keen Social is a combination of a marketing research firm and a data-drive multicultural digital agency. Gamez has worked with major companies such as Aflac and FX to help build effective social media campaigns, build online engagement and other services. Keen Social even analyzed NGLCC’s very own social media and digital presence data!

The community and conversation section of the event was a conversation with Target, discussing the challenges and opportunities through COVID-19 and after with Jessica Lozano-Williams, the director of supplier diversity.

The conversation also centered around the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, and how important these protests are in advancing the rights of the Black community. Once again the movement for long-overdue social change in America is being led by communities of color.  And the LGBT business community -- all 1.4 million of our fellow entrepreneurs, their teams, and their allies -- stands in solidarity with them.

In fact, the unity among diverse communities and business groups has never been more apparent than this moment. As NGLCC and the partners we brought together to form the National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC) shared in our coalition statement: “The time is now for us to stand as one unified community to demand action and declare together that discrimination and bigotry against any fellow human being is wrong and will not be tolerated. That in fact #BlackLivesMatter.”

“We are at a point now in our history where we are dealing with a significant cancer of racism, and every single one of us needs to step up and do something about it. We have to do this together. We cannot see another life extinguished because of the color of their skin,” Justin Nelson, the co-founder and president of NGLCC said.

The NGLCC network was floored yet again by the unique and engaging business pitches, and is excited for the next LGBT Sip & Pitch event on June 12.

Want to learn more about LGBT Sip & Pitch Fridays or apply to present your businesses ideas? Click here to learn more or email [email protected] if you have any questions.

For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.