Maricopa County Community College District Students Shine in Entrepreneurial Showcase

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Blue circle with words The Big Pitch

The entrepreneurial spirit was displayed on April 28 as seven Maricopa County Community Colleges students took the stage at Venture Café Phoenix's Thursday Gathering for the annual Big Pitch competition. These talented students, selected by faculty from their respective colleges, presented their innovative business ideas, competing for startup funding and invaluable insights. Organized by the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) at GateWay Community College, and generously sponsored by Wells Fargo, this event continues to provide a crucial platform for young innovators.

  • Aaliyah Newton, founder of Lili's Stickers & Threadz, representing Estrella Mountain Community College.
  • Davina Gregan, founder of NOVA Gaming Center, representing Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
  • Jarod McGuire, founder of Broadcast.GG, representing Paradise Valley Community College. 
  • Jarvis Ross, founder of DeliverEase, representing Rio Salado Community College. 
  • Natalia Nava Bravo, founder of CUSUA, representing Mesa Community College. 
  • Tiffany Sanchez, founder of Tiffany Rae, representing Phoenix College.
  • Xavier Lopez, founder of Mereli Chili, representing Scottsdale Community College.

Attendees had the opportunity to witness these student entrepreneurs showcase their pitches, each presenting unique solutions to contemporary challenges. Despite the competitive atmosphere, a strong sense of camaraderie prevailed, with participants offering each other support and encouragement.

Each student had five minutes to pitch their business plan, followed by five minutes of questioning from a panel of experienced startup judges, including Bob DeLean, Executive Director of Arizona Tech Investors; Lou Farina, Business Advisor for SBDC; Joseph Bianchi, Venture Development Manager at Arizona Commerce Authority; and Amber Cordoba, Director of Business Education and Consulting Services for Prestamos CDFI.

Following the final pitch, the audience engaged in a live poll to determine the People's Choice winner, who would receive $2,000. It was a thrilling race, culminating in Natalia Nava Bravo, founder of CUSUA, being crowned the People's Choice winner. Her business provides a fully self-contained hydroponic system for homeowners.

The judges also awarded the grand prize of $5,000 to Natalia Nava Bravo, recognizing her business's potential for significant impact. Reflecting on her journey, Natalia shared:

"My business idea started in middle school when I learned how efficient water use in agriculture could transform lives. Moving to the U.S. allowed me to take hydroponics classes and create a prototype. Winning this competition has been a fantastic experience, and with the prize money, we can further develop our product and bring it to market soon."

The second-place prize of $3,000 went to Jarod McGuire, founder of Broadcast.GG from Paradise Valley Community College. His platform helps Esports professionals manage their talent portfolios and monitor event engagement while serving as a job board for event organizers scouting talent in the Esports industry.

As the event concluded, participants left with renewed purpose, ready to continue their entrepreneurial journeys. The Big Pitch competition showcased their ideas and fostered a supportive network of connections. CEI extends its gratitude to all participants, attendees, Venture Café Phoenix, and Wells Fargo for their invaluable contributions to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit within Maricopa County Community Colleges.

To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, please visit