Jamal Robinson has been named the sixth champion of Ivy Tech Community College Northeast’s New Venture Competition, which took place Thursday evening on Ivy Tech Northeast’s Coliseum Campus. He won $35,000 in capital for his business, DESIAR Eyewear.
Robinson sold his first pair of DESIAR Eyewear in 2012, and he calls 2014 “the game changing year” for the company: That’s when companies like Luxottica (the largest eyewear company in the world), TJX (Europe’s version of TJ Maxx), and The Aldo Group began to carry DESIAR sunglasses.
With the $35,000 he wins from the New Venture Competition, he will launch his Hoosier line of eyewear, which feature wooden frames and are entirely manufactured in Indiana.
He and two other finalists presented their business plans to a room full of community business people, and he says he felt confident during his presentation.
“When it comes to DESIAR, I know DESIAR,” says Robinson, an Ivy Tech Northeast alum who graduated from IPFW with his associate degree in business. “With all that, I felt comfortably prepared. I was confident I did the best I could do.”
Robinson presented his business plan to more than 30 community professionals, who served as judges. The other finalists were Andrew Smittie, of Green E-Waste Miracles, which collects items trash companies won’t pick up like computers and technology and recycles the material; and Guadalupe Callejas, of Metro Striping & More, an interior and exterior painting company. Callejas was also a finalist in last year’s New Venture Competition.
Each finalist presented for 15 minutes. After the presentations, judges were given an additional 15 minutes for a question-and-answer session. The judges had been provided the contestants’ business plans prior to the event.
In its sixth year, the New Venture Competition’s presenting sponsor was Dave and Mary Bear of JB Tool, Die & Engineering Inc., and was also made possible through a grant from the Edward M. and Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation. The awards dinner sponsor was ProFed Federal Credit Union, and the competition was in collaboration with Fort Wayne SCORE.
Learn more about the New Venture Competition at IvyTech.edu/northeast/newventure, where you can also watch short videos with Robinson, Smittie, and Callejas. Learn more about studying entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Northeast at IvyTech.edu/study-entrepreneurship.