Feeling Like a Winner! (Competition Results)

The tension was high at the NY StartUp! Competition Awards Ceremony. The speeches were awe-inspiring and each of the 10 finalists were introduced… as we sat with our supporters in complete agony. And the 1st place winner is…
… Reefill, Inc or whatever, lol. I brought the second place title and $7,500 prize home to the BX, baby! The lovely woman pictured with me is Kristin McDonough, director of SIBL (Science, Industry & Business Library).

Thank you so much for all of your love notes via social media and email since the results went out. This moment was bigger to me than either of my college graduations–this sense of accomplishment cannot be matched–and I love that I can share it with you.

Before the ceremony, I was secretly stalking the other finalists online and I learned that the competition was fierce; so once they got through announcing the runner-ups, I was ready to pack it up and lick my wounds… then it happened. I was visibly the most excited winner, but I kept my composure until it was time to face my family. I had the biggest entourage: my grandparents were there; my best friends Sherry, Latasha, and Samantha all came before their workdays; my business advisor, Senem (Baruch College); my book-bar mentor, Nicole, was there from Denver; and the waterworks started as soon as Paul (bae) hugged me.

The 3 winners were asked to participate in the video below; I was so happy-emotional that I had a hard time getting through it. Whoever edited this did a great job getting at least a little something out of my pitch. I don’t know why I was yelling, I couldn’t keep my face together, my bra was sticking out, I forgot to say “thank you” and everything else I practiced… don’t even watch it, lol.

There were 360 applicants, entries were narrowed down to 20, then 10, there were 2 runner-ups, and 3 “winners”. Between you and me, I was disappointed that I didn’t win-win, but those stats definitely consoled me, lol. At the end, the winner-winners told me they lost a bunch of competitions and this was the first time they’d ever won anything–that was inspiring since this was my first time ever competing in anything. I don’t even play the lottery. 

Almost a year of my life went into this and it was so worth it. I have solid business plan, made new friends from some of the amazing finalists, and I accomplished my main goal: adding the New York Public Library and the uber-successful panel of judges to my arsenal. You guys saw the vision from day one, but it took the prestige of the competition for property owners and investors to take this Bronx girl seriously. I was invited to pitch in Capital One’s invite-only competition, the ensuing press by the NYPL, American Booksellers Association, and Shelf Awareness have spurred meetings with community leaders, and publishers are even sending me free books to help raise more money. I may have had a few more dollars, but first place couldn’t feel better than this.



P.S.~ Are we loving the new blog makeover? I went for a magazine layout that makes the site more reader-friendly and functional.

P.P.S.~ Save the dates December 10 & 11th. I booked my first pop-up shop at the Bronx Museum of the Arts! More details to come.

Bye for real now.






  1. Hi Noëlle, I had an idea while listening to your interview on Brian Lehrer this morning. I lived in Brooklyn for 5 years and have family there. We had a great experience with our young daughter in daycare in Crown Heights and later at public school and I hold the city in my heart. Loved hearing you talk about ways to connect your store with the community. Here’s a thought…it’s about writers. I’ve recently finished writing my first novel and have lately been all about pitching literary agents. Writers are nuts about workshopping their manuscripts and finding people to read and edit them. It seems to me if you could connect with some local NYC writing groups you could attract people to your store. If you could get a published author or agent to give a talk, i think you’d have a flood of writers (who buy lots of books) show up at your store for it.
    Peace, Brian Swift


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