BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Dream Big Foundation is excited to host the Neighborhood Start-up Fund on November 13, 2015 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for the first-ever Idea to Prototype Challenge. The two organizations, both founded by technology entrepreneurs, Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson, and Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze, respectively, hope to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in areas of low-income, high-crime communities, starting with Brownsville.
Founded in 2001 by Robert LoCascio, the Dream Big Foundation is launching an entrepreneurial resource and incubation center in Brownsville, as well as an investment fund for small businesses opening in the area. For LoCascio, who started LivePerson, a technology company that uses messaging to bring consumers and brands closer together, entrepreneurism is the key to bringing economic diversity and success to communities like Brownsville.
"The Dream Big Foundation is setting up shop in Brownsville, where there are no shortage of great ideas," said LoCascio. "By supporting entrepreneurs, we hope to create a cycle of success and give this underserved community a chance for positive change. We believe that local entrepreneurship will spark a revitalization from within and empower residents," he said.
The first investment of the foundation will be the 3 Black Cats Cafe and Cakery, opening in Spring 2016. The space will not only serve as the first coffee shop in the community, but also as the hub for Dream Big's entrepreneurial resource center where residents can come for mentorship and training. The program hopes to accelerate local, economic growth in this community that is most known for high crime and poverty rates, and the largest concentration of public housing in the nation.
The Neighborhood Start-Up Fund, founded by Eisnor and hip-hop star Wasalu Jaco (Lupe Fiasco) was created to find, fund and mentor start-ups in similar communities. The Brownsville Start-Up Fund will be the first neighborhood-specific program to launch, kicking off with the Idea to Prototype Challenge.
"We met the Dream Big team at 3pm one day, and by 7am the next morning we had a partnership in place. It was clear we were aligned in the speed and scope of entrepreneurship in Brownsville," said Eisnor. "Dream Big has been an ideal partner in launching Neighborhood Start Fund. Their on-the-ground community outreach with our program for turning ideas into prototypes and start-ups has allowed us to collect 200 ideas and select 9 to pitch live on stage in just a few months," she said.
Dream Big and the Start-Up Fund have partnered for this event where Brownsville residents are invited to submit their ideas for a product, service or business. On November 13, the 9 finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that include LoCascio, Eisnor, Lupe Fiasco and other leading entrepreneurs and CEOs. The competition will be hosted by the Dream Big Foundation in the soon-to-be cafe and entrepreneurial resource center in Brownsville. Entrants will have a chance to win $2,500 to $10,000 to create their prototype, and top candidates will be offered $25,000 to $100,000 in start-up capital.
About the Dream Big Foundation
The Dream Big Foundation was founded by Robert LoCascio in 2001 with its first program, FeedingNYC, which aims to feed New York City's families in need for Thanksgiving. Since 2001, FeedingNYC has donated more than 40,000 Thanksgiving meals. In 2014, Dream Big launched its second program, the Dream Big Entrepreneurship Initiative to provide funding, mentoring, and coaching to local entrepreneurs to empower them and drive economic growth in underserved communities. The first investment of the Dream Big Entrepreneurship Program will be the 3 Black Cats Cafe and Cakery, owned and operated by a Brownsville entrepreneur. A portion of each business's success is reinvested into the same local fund, fueling future neighborhood entrepreneurs - a critical difference - from existing programs, generating concrete, hyperlocal economic impact. Learn more at www.thedreambig.org.
LivePerson, Inc. (NASDAQ: LPSN) offers a cloud-based platform that enables businesses to proactively connect in real-time with their customers via chat, voice, and content delivery at the right time, through the right channel, including websites, social media, and mobile devices. This "intelligent engagement" is driven by real-time behavioral analytics, producing connections based on a true understanding of business objectives and customer needs.
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SOURCE LivePerson, Inc.; The Dream Big Foundation