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Celebrating the Catapult Class of 2023

Group Photo of Catapult Entrepreneurship Graduates
Celebrating the graduation of the 2023 class of Catapult Startup to Storefront Retail entrepreneurs.

On February 1st, we gathered at the Catapult Commercial Kitchen in Bellevue to celebrate the graduation of the 2023 class of Catapult Startup to Storefront Retail entrepreneurs.

After one year of monthly courses, educational seminars, networking, and technical assistance, this cohort of 20 dedicated retail entrepreneurs are now equipped with the knowledge and expertise to take their businesses to the next level.

Acknowledgement and Achievements

Catapult Executive Director Tammy Thompson, Director of Entrepreneurship Lachelle Bell, and Entrepreneurship Education Coordinator Kayla Bowyer all spoke at the event, acknowledging the graduates and their achievements. Catapult Culinary alumni Bouji Bites provided the catering, while Sweet Inspirations supplied the desserts and Opulent Occasions made sure the space was fit for the occasion.

“We’re thrilled to see Catapult Startup to Storefront retail business incubator grads spread their wings! They’ve poured their hearts into their businesses, and now they are ready to take on the world of entrepreneurship with style and swagger. Here’s to our amazing grads — you’re not just future leaders, you’re today’s trailblazers.”

– Catapult Director of Entrepreneurship, Lachelle Bell

Entrepreneurship Awards

The Business of the Year award was given to Daynell Marbury of HelloBoutiq, a resin art business. The business specializes in personalizing one-of-a-kind gifts.

Leader of the Year award went to Ebony Dendy of 412HempHeals. The business is a CBD product and education brand.

Business of the Year and Leader of the Year Award Winners

Award Winning Success Stories

For Marbury, entrepreneurship wasn’t part of a master plan. Rather, it blossomed from a creative hobby.

“I came across a video on social media of someone making a resin candle holder, and I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Marbury remembered. “I was going through a hard time and needed an outlet, and that was something that soothed my mind.”

When her position as a database manager was terminated, she decided to pursue HelloBoutiq full-time and applied to Catapult to learn more about the fundamentals of running a business. Throwing herself fully into the program, Marbury demonstrated an impressive commitment to applying the program concepts to her budding business.

“I think the most valuable thing I learned was how to merchandise my products, from in-store, product placement to pricing to market research,” Marbury said.

Post graduation, she is working on her branding and preparing her products for sale in Catapult’s Gallery on Centre retail incubator.

Reflecting on her time with Catapult, she shared: “It’s a great program. We get all of these resources to improve our business, and it’s even better that it’s free. I think more people should know about it.”

Our other awardee Ebony Dendy is a senior IT project manager by day and a serial entrepreneur in her free time, previously running a medical billing business and currently operating a cleaning business.

When the pandemic hit, she realized how vital it was to have multiple streams of income and started brainstorming other potential business ideas she could pursue. She had already been experimenting with the health benefits of CBD products personally and recognized a need in the Pittsburgh market. Not long after, she started 412HempHeals and began reselling CBD products at select vendor events. However, she soon reached a standstill.

“I needed help,” Dendy explained. “I was stuck. I had this idea which I thought was great, but I just didn’t know what else to do. How do I grow this? Where do I go? What business licenses do I need? Things like that. That was the reason for me applying to Catapult.”

Through the program, Dendy got the granular detail and guidance she needed to ensure 412HempHeals was headed in the right direction — and most importantly — legally sound, an essential consideration when entering the CBD business.

During her time in Catapult Startup to Storefront, Dendy also freely shared the lessons she had learned over the years as an entrepreneur, advising her other cohort members about the importance of taking control of your accounting and other matters. That generosity and go-getter spirit earned her a reputation as a leader and allowed her to make the most of the program.

“I’m going to be officially selling my products by the end of the month,” Dendy said. “I have my insurance, and I have my products with my label. Right now, I’m just working on marketing. I can’t say enough about Catapult — it’s a very stellar program if you put in the work.”

Catapult Entrepreneurs Building Legacies for Generations

As we send this impressive class of Catapult entrepreneurs out into the world, we are proud of how far they’ve come and can’t wait to see what they will go on to do, not just for them, but also for those that come after them. Because, for these entrepreneurs, their businesses are more than a means to earn a living — they are a legacy they can pass on, a core principle woven into the Catapult entrepreneurship programs.

“My goal is to eventually give my businesses to my son or younger cousins,” Dendy said. “I’m really just trying to build up that generational wealth that Catapult is all about.”

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