Brookdale Community College has unveiled its latest initiative, The VentureHive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (VEE), marking a significant leap forward in fostering entrepreneurship within Monmouth County. The program was inaugurated at an event called “The Pitch,” where aspiring entrepreneurs presented, in short form, their unique business ideas to a panel of judges and an enthusiastic audience. From tech solutions to pet-friendly fitness centers, the event highlighted the entrepreneurial spirit thriving in the County.

Dr. Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, the driving force behind this initiative and the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Brookdale, spearheaded the event. In her opening remarks, Dr. Mejias-Fuertes emphasized the program’s mission to cultivate a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurial mindset crucial for sustainable business development in Monmouth County.

“The VEE,” for short, is a place where people team up, get coaching, and learn how to be great at starting businesses. In its Small Business Accelerator program, folks will begin their educational journey. They will learn a lot about running a business better and making their sales pitch sharper.

The Pitch event, a cornerstone of the Accelerator program, featured diverse business presentations from 10 ambitious entrepreneurs. These individuals are vying for funding and guidance to propel their ventures forward.

County Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone and Kevin Barry Moedt, both seasoned judges with a wealth of entrepreneurial expertise, were on the panel. Arnone’s illustrious tenure as the Director for the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners underscores his commitment to boosting the local business climate. Moedt, a digital sales manager with Townsquare Ignite and advocate for small businesses, brings invaluable insights from his multifaceted experiences.

Joining them on the panel were Lisa Ascolese, the visionary CEO of Inventing A to Z, who has revolutionized the television shopping industry with her innovative products and dynamic presence, and Tyler Colombo, Senator Gopal’s legislative aide dedicated to constituent service and grassroots mobilization highlights his passion for community empowerment.

Dr. Pericles Scaranni, a renowned expert in entrepreneurial leadership worldwide, completed the panel. With his diverse experience in academia, philanthropy, and business, Dr. Scaranni has an exceptional talent for motivating and advising aspiring entrepreneurs.

Three judges listening and looking at the presentations,As the pitches unfolded, each presenter received invaluable feedback from the judges. Their diverse perspectives and wealth of experience promise to steer these budding entrepreneurs toward success. Overall, the event underscored the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking driving Monmouth County’s business landscape forward.

With the VEE at the helm, Brookdale Community College is poised to become a beacon of entrepreneurial innovation, nurturing the next generation of business leaders in Monmouth County and beyond. Anticipation builds for Demo Day, where the transformative impact of the Accelerator program will be on full display, displaying the evolution of these ventures over ten weeks. The stakes are high, with participants competing for first, second, and third prizes, totaling $4,500 in grant funding thanks to the generous support of the National Association of Community Colleges and Entrepreneurship.

In the words of Dr. Mejias-Fuertes, “Our goal is not just for you to take your idea and start a business. Our goal is to make sure your business becomes sustainable, contributing to the economic development of our beloved Monmouth County.” With the VEE, that goal is within reach.