After more than 6,000 applicants and 152 regional winners, it’s now down to just seven for the Creator Awards Global Finals, happening January 17 in New York City.
Over the last year, WeWork has given out millions of dollars with the Creator Awards, a global competition ringing out its inaugural year. The awards celebrate ideas with impact in cities spanning the globe, from Austin to Tel Aviv. The start of year two will follow closely behind, with the first regional event of 2018 taking place in Mexico City on February 1.
So who are the lucky few who have made it through a year of nail-biting pitches? Get to know them a bit better and see what’s at stake for their organizations:
Or Retzkin, CEO
Tel Aviv winner
What they do: Produce a wearable, affordable communication device that will enable “locked in” patients with diseases like ALS to communicate easily with those around them
How will you use the prize money? The money that we received from the Tel Aviv Creator Awards will go toward our first launch outside of Israel. The first thing that we will do (with the Global Finals prize money) is invest in expanding our team to include marketing, sales, and product support. Winning the Global Finals will assist us to launch the EyeControl and change the lives of millions by giving a voice back to the “locked-in” community.
Samantha Snabes, cofounder
What they do: Drive social change through accessible 3D printing with their Gigabot, the most affordable large-scale 3D printer on the market
How have you used your regional award prize so far? With WeWork’s support we were able to establish an outpost in San Juan, Puerto Rico, last August when we joined Parallel 18. What we hadn’t anticipated were the multiple hurricanes we would endure in the following quarter, that, without the regional Creator Award, could have bankrupted our company. We’ve stayed on the island to explore opportunities to leverage Gigabot for the hurricane recovery effort.
What are you doing to prepare for the Global Finals?
We can’t wait to share the modified Gigabot we developed using the Regional Creator Award grant at the Global Finals. Currently we are heads down making place to demonstrate this milestone live, and developing educational materials around the potential for impact. We have also begun releasing our progress with the community for feedback and input, as we plan to take the printer to Puerto Rico from N.Y.C. on January 17.
Becca Keaty, Chief Development Officer
What they do: Empower veterans, their spouses, and active duty service members with the entrepreneurial tools to start and grow their own businesses
How are you preparing for the finals? Lots of deep breathing and dance parties to shake out the nerves! And lots of focus and attention on developing our three-year strategy so we can build and scale the tribes of veterans we’ve already cultivated. We know our impact model works, and we have demand from multiple cities in all 50 states for our programs and services.
Now that we’ve had time to plan and prepare for what might happen at the Global Finals, we feel more relaxed and eager, with a healthy dose of nerves too, of course, but ready to tell the world about how we impact the lives of veterans every day.
How will you use the prize money? If we are fortunate enough to win the big prize, we will turn around and challenge the business community to match it—doubling the impact. With WeWork’s initial prize money as well as the additional matching funds, our plan is to activate our 50-state strategy to ensure there are military veteran entrepreneurship tribes all across the U.S. that have the access to the community and resources they need to start small businesses and live out their next American dream.
Naveed Parvez, cofounder and CEO
What they do: Combine clinical data, biomechanics, and 3D printing to deliver affordable and effective custom medical braces, splints, casts, and external body supports, with a focus on children
How are you feeling in the lead up to the finals? I’ve been dreaming of pitching since I heard we are in the finals.
How will you use the prize money? We’ll move from our temporary clinic space to a permanent one so we can start treating more kids faster.
What kind of connections have you made with other Creator Awards winners? We’ve started talking to LeVar Burton Kids about using Skybrary in our clinic. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again in New York City.
Elizabeth Lindsey, Executive Director
Washington, D.C. winner
What they do: Provide multi-level computer training and career preparation to underserved Washington, D.C. metro area residents
How has the regional Creator Award changed things at your organization? The regional Creator Award has been transformative for Byte Back. Since winning the award, we expanded for the first time in Byte Back’s 20 year history to teaching courses outside of DC. Thanks to this support, we are now reaching high-need communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The award has also given us additional flexibility in hiring key staff. We now have a data coordinator on our team, and a case manager to help our students with barriers that they face in completing their training.
I can’t believe how taking the risk to submit an application back in March has changed Byte Back’s trajectory forever.
Manal Kahi, Founder
New York City winner
What they do: Authentic home-style meals conceived and prepared by refugees who now call NYC home
How will you use the prize money? The very first thing will be to throw a big party for our team and friends! Our entire team has been working non-stop for the past two years, and we all deserve a moment to breathe and celebrate.
On a more serious note, if we win the big prize, we will immediately start looking for a new home for Eat Offbeat—a beautiful, optimized, flagship kitchen with a storefront. The space would be a living monument to the vision and values that Eat Offbeat represents, a place where cultures meet and bridges are built around food, where New Yorkers can have meaningful culinary journeys and build stronger bonds with our chefs, and where we can all learn what it means to be a New Yorker.
Sebastian Jünemann, cofounder
What they do: Mobile hospital solutions in high-risk areas
What’s been your impact so far? Everyone said it wasn’t possible to put a mobile hospital two kilometers from the frontlines in Mosul. We showed them it is possible. Each month, we have more than 1,000 patients. And 300 people who would be dead now if we hadn’t been there.
How will you use the money? Our aim is to develop a blueprint for mobile hospitals for small, medium, and large nonprofits in poor countries.
But it doesn’t end with the magnificent seven. An eighth contender will also enter the ring—one determined by the live audience. The six semifinalists vying for that wildcard spot are:
Learn more about their stories and RSVP for the event here.