A landscaping company dedicated to making self-sustaining terrariums in New York City took home the $20,000 top prize in a business plan competition hosted by Brooklyn Public Library on Thursday.

A judging panel of business owners, nonprofit leaders and academics chose TerrartNYC as the winner of the 18th annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition, which awards $40,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs in the city.

The small business run by Charly Uzcatequi, Timothy Chu and Henger Ydrogo was selected from a field of over 350 entries, most of whom had no previous business experience. 

Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said PowerUP! celebrated Brooklyn’s “long legacy of creative and determined entrepreneurship.”

“Our Business & Career librarians and partners at DIME Bank ensure that the next generation of local business owners have the skills and funding they need to pursue their dreams and strengthen their communities,” she said.

“In the months and years to come, we’ll be rooting for all the winners, many of whom are first-time business owners.”

A second place prize of $10,000 was awarded to Jeffrey Jacque the founder of CeeBak, a new safety device that helps prevent bike, board and scooter accidents, and a third place prize of $5,000 was awarded to Lali Honey Wine, founded by Samra Ghermay, Naz Habtezgh, Selam Negatu and Aden Fisseha.

The other merit winners included Temika Walker for B4 UR SKN, a vegan, plant-based skincare brand; Alice Forbes Spear and Jenny Kim-Jacobson for Open Care Acupuncture, providing low-cost acupuncture and herbal medicine to all New Yorkers via a sliding-scale; Lerone Savage for Soon Forward, an e-commerce shipping platform for local exporters transporting goods to the Caribbean; and Daniel Sheehan and Matthew Sloan for AutoCEQR, a software platform automating the generation of standard analyses, data, and maps required by the New York City Environmental Quality Review for environmental planning consulting firms and land use attorneys.

Kevin O’Connor, CEO of Dime Community Bank, which sponsors the event, said the program highlighted the spirit of Brooklyn and of New York. 

“As a keystone of the community and financial partner to all sizes of businesses here in Brooklyn for over 100 years, we are excited to watch this next wave of entrepreneurs take flight and create success that others can follow,” he said.

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