Three BMCC Students Are Headed to the Final Round of CUNY Clash Competition

(from left to right)—Dreanda Cordero, Carlene Hunte-Nelson and Eric Marlie.

April 20, 2023

Three Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students—Dreanda Cordero, Carlene Hunte-Nelson, and Eric Marlie—are heading to the final round of the the 2023 CUNY Clash startup pitch competition.

BMCC is the only community college that will be represented at the final event of scheduled for May 5 at Baruch College (CUNY).

The annual CUNY Clash competition, hosted by CUNY Startups, invites students from across all the campuses of City University of New York to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes and gain exposure to potential investors and mentors.

The over-arching mission of CUNY Startups is to dramatically improve the social mobility of CUNY students through entrepreneurship, while stimulating business growth and development in New York City.

The CUNY Clash competition is open to all CUNY students, regardless of major or level of experience in entrepreneurship. The competition experience provides the students with an opportunity to receive professional feedback on their ideas and further develop their pitching skills.

Small Business Entrepreneurship (SBE) Deputy Chair and Professor Roderick “Shane” Snipes said BMCC’s Blackstone LaunchPad mentoring was essential to the successful development and follow-through of the winning student pitches. Professor Snipes says BMCC Blackstone LaunchPad campus Director for Programs and Mentoring, Tracey Hobbs deserves recognition for her extensive mentoring.

“Tracey Hobbs has brought this program to life with her mentoring abilities and design of workshops during the Business/Entrepreneur/LaunchPad Club meetings each week,” said Professor Snipes. “Two of the students entered the competition as part of their Small Business Management assignments.”

SBE major Dreanda Cordero—Give Us a Purpose or G.U.A.P 

G.U.A.P. serves as a nonprofit organization that provides personalized mentorship, job training, and skills to youth and young parents to prevent them from becoming involved in gangs and crime. As part of the program, G.U.A.P. collaborates with local entrepreneurs and community organizations to gather resources and offer work experience and guidance to the youth in order for them to achieve their greatest success.

“Part of the inspiration for my idea came from my time mentoring young children, when often times we didn’t have adequate resources,” explained Cordero. “My idea’s inspiration also came from having a younger brother who was forced to leave New York City, largely because of the threat of gang violence. And finally, I was inspired by my experiences as a young parent, trying to balance parenthood with finding a career path.”

SBE major Carlene Hunte-Nelson—Outdoor Unicorn 

Outdoor Unicorn, was created to put safety wear on the heads of commuters and GIG workers and address the virtually untouched 94% of the inner-city minority community who do not currently wear helmets. Outdoor Unicorn will do this through community education events, micromobility-policy advocacy and non-traditional head protection that encompasses urban hairstyle fitment and promotes safety culture within the community through high-visibility aesthetics. 

“Outdoor Unicorn was born out of the need for safety and style in helmets and other safety gear for my family and community,” said Hunte-Nelson. “As an Afro-American that has worn locs and braids, there are currently no helmets available that accommodate safe and comfortable fitment, and that also reflect my cultural heritage and style.”

Hunte-Nelson explains that Outdoor Unicorn’s aim is to raise awareness of the importance of wearing safety helmets and gear, particularly among members of minority communities.

“We also advocate for an increase in more safe infrastructure that encourages best practices when using micro-mobility devices,” said Hunte-Nelson, who adds, “our aim is to exponentially grow the adoption and use of helmets and safety gear in New York City by making safety-wear part of the urban culture.”

She said Professor Snipes was instrumental in helping her conduct additional research and plan activities that transformed the project from a rough idea into a structure that is actually viable.

“Being an SBE major and part of the CEEP program were also a critical component in developing my idea,” said Hunte-Nelson.

Digital Marketing major Eric Marlie—Clean N Kick 

Clean N Kick is a shoe cleaning service that offers a drop-off service for busy individuals. Leave your shoes in our smart lockers located in schools, colleges, or offices; and retrieve them once cleaned, either at the end of the day or the following day.

“Keeping my shoes clean is important to me, but cleaning them is a time-consuming and expensive task,” said Marlie. “Going to a shoe cleaning store and picking them up on another day is a hassle.”

That’s where the idea for Clean n Kick came from according to Marlie. Customers can put their sneakers in a designated smart locker at their school or office, and pick them up later, hassle-free, he says.

“I received amazing mentoring from Tracey Hobbs,” Marlie said. “She helped me from the initial brainstorming stage to this final stage. Her feedback and guidance helped me to stay organized, be realistic, and improve my results. We reflected together on the scoring rubric to deliver the best possible outcome.”