The owner of a Camp Hill business that plans corporate meetings and conferences, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation parties and more won the $8,000 grand prize in the pitch competition held June 9 to culminate the first Capital Region Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab, sponsored by M&T Bank.
Joy Boudreau, also the co-founder and lead planner of Joy of Events Group LLC, was born in Cameroon and immigrated to the U.S. in 1991. She started Joy of Events in 2019 with her husband, Tyler, after planning their wedding.
“To start a business during any climate is an arduous undertaking, so starting our business right before a pandemic was not for the faint of heart,” Boudreau said in a release. “I can only hope for continued growth in this region and the opportunity to use my success to lift other wedding vendors of color up and provide educational opportunities to youth interested in the business.”
The innovation lab was open to entrepreneurs who were Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx or Asian American; in business no more than three years; and reported annual revenue of $350,000 or less.
In all, 40 Harrisburg-area entrepreneurs took part. Business planning, establishing credit, accessing capital, marketing, branding and networking were among the topics covered, with the pitch competition capping the final session of the six week business accelerator program in partnership with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Tomisheri Tilman, owner of Mind Body Rest, earned the second-place prize of $4,000, and Kyiana Gooding, owner of Klawed by Kitty, was awarded the third-place prize of $3,000. Of the total prize winnings, M&T Bank contributed $10,000 and Dauphin County Commissioners chipped in $5,000.
Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.