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  • Writer's pictureWinnie Hart

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: nCourage Honors Courageous Women at Rice Business Plan Competition 2023

nCourage Entrepreneurs has awarded two teams, Atma Leather (Banofi Leather) and Thryft Ship the investment award for Courageous Women Entrepreneurs at the 2023 Rice University Business Plan Competition. Jinali Mody and Maggie Boreham of Atma Leather, Yale University, were awarded the $50,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneur Investment Award for their disruptive technology that converts banana crop waste into vegan plant-based leather. Valeria Brenner and Maanav Karamchandani of Thryft Ship, University of Georgia, were awarded the $10,000 Investment Award. Thryft Ship streamlines the shipping process for Instagram sellers.

To be eligible for the Courageous Women Entrepreneur investment award, graduate-level business plan teams must have, in addition to standard qualifications: a woman as CEO or in a top leadership role or a minimum 25% woman-ownership, and all teams must have at least one female on the presenting team.

The prize is sponsored by nCourage Entrepreneurs Investment Group consisting of: Cindy Boyd, CEO, Sentigy; Elizabeth Wiggins, Director, Various Community Boards; Lamar Mathews, President, Falcon Partners, Ltd.; Shelby Scarbrough, President, Practical Protocol; Sue Payne, Former ExxonMobil Executive; Winnie Hart, Founder of TwinEngine; Carolyn Matula, Former Risk Manager, Shell; Marie Myers, Chief Financial Officer, HP; Pilar Stillwater, Patent Attorney; Barbara Burger, Former President Chevron Technology Ventures; Jody Lee, MD, Chairwoman, Southwestern National Bank. This year the nCourage team is proud to announce Sima Jani, Senior Energy Advisor; and Laura Resendez, VP, Q2 Technologies, have joined nCourage. United by their passion to encourage the next generation of women entrepreneurs, and recognize the courage necessary to pursue an entrepreneurial journey, the nCourage team applauds the efforts of this year’s contestants.

The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which is Rice University’s flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. This is the 23rd year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $2 million in cash and prizes. For more information -

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