Student Entrepreneurs


| jlane@queenscourier.com |

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“Capital One winners”; Alasia Harris, Akua Berko- Mensah, Karel Powery, Giselle Cahalan of Capital One Bank, Yamiris Gonzalez, Michael Starkey, Mario Morees and Anel Quintero.

LaGuardia Community College student Karel  Powery is one step closer to realizing her dream of start-ing an online shoe store — Shoe Life — after she com-peted to win the top prize in the Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge on Friday, December  16. Powery will receive business counsel from Capital One Small Business Bankers and $1,000 in working capital.

She was among seven students who participated in the three-month entrepreneurial training program that includes business workshops and a mentoring from Capital One Small Business Bankers in partnership with LaGuardia Community College’s Small Business Development Center and NYDesigns, an incubator for design businesses ranging from fashion to architecture. Powery’s peers also received seed funding based on the strength of the business plans they presented to a panel of judges from Capital One Bank, LaGuardia’s NYDesigns and members of the design community. Michael Starkey and Anel Quintero received $750; and four $500 gifts went to Akua Berko-Mensah, Yamiris Gonzalez, Mario Morees and Alasia Harris.

“As a local bank, Capital One recognizes the important role that small business owners play in stimulating our local economy,” said Giselle Cahalan, Queens Market
president for Capital One Bank. “Through this unique partnership, we are helping our future business leaders gain valuable experience and providing resources to help
make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.”During her pitch, Powery explained that she has a clear goal: to develop Shoe Life, an online shoe boutique that will exclusively sell trendy, bold and fashionable high-heeled shoes. She hopes to build a brand that is known for high-quality, on-trend and meaningful customer relationships. She plans to put the Capital One grant toward the fee for registering her business, the yearly cost of her e-commerce shopping cart and other marketing needs.
“I always wanted to go into my own business, but I didn’t want to be the person who was asked, ‘What kind of income are you bringing in? What is your net worth? What is your margin?’ and not know the answer,” said Powery. “I came into the program not knowing the answers and came out knowing all the answers. It feels
amazing.” The partnership between Capital One, LaGuardia’s NYDesigns and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was established in 2008. During the 12-week
training, the students attend business workshops and mentoring sessions facilitated by SBDC advisors, Capital  One Small Business Bankers and Resident Designers at NYDesigns. The sessions introduced students to business plan writing, as well as business financials and account-ing. The students also had access to a shared studio office
and the NYDesigns community and events.