Winners in Four Categories To Be Revealed Among 12 Finalists at the

2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo


(New York, NY) May 6, 2013—BLACK ENTERPRISE will hold its 2013 Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide Insurance on Wednesday, May 15 through Saturday, May 18 at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. An annual highlight of the conference is the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards, which gives national recognition to the outstanding African American entrepreneurs who own some of America’s best small businesses. Twelve finalists in four categories—Innovator of the Year, Family Business of the Year, Franchise Owner of the Year and Teenpreneur of the Year—hail from across America, span a diverse range of industries and include entrepreneurs as young as 13 years old.

 “Each year, our search for outstanding examples of entrepreneurial spirit and excellence for our Small Business Awards is abundantly rewarded,” said Derek T. Dingle, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Black Enterprise magazine.  “This year is no exception, as we’ve identified small business owners with innovative and profitable enterprises in markets ranging from technology and construction to home repair and eco-friendly fashion. All 12 of our nominees inspire all of us; they are what our Entrepreneurs Conference is all about.”  


“Nationwide Insurance is proud of our relationship with Black Enterprise and the opportunity to support the important initiatives like the Small Business Awards program,” said Nationwide Chief Executive Officer Steve Rasmussen. “This year’s honorees represent the best of the best and are inspiring examples of the type of innovation and originality that create jobs and drive economic development.”

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo, which annually brings together more than 1,200 of the country’s leading entrepreneurs and corporate executives, is designed to provide attendees with the newest and most innovative strategies from today’s top business minds and provide high-powered networking opportunities critical to their efforts to take their businesses to the next level, from successful launch to growth and profitability. This year’s BEEC theme: Accelerate Your Business.

Finalists for the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards were selected by the editors of Black Enterprise from a pool of nominees submitted to BlackEnterprise.com during the past year. This year’s finalists will be honored at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference Small Business Awards Luncheon on Thursday, May 15; the winners will be announced at that time. Finalists, by category:

Innovator of The Year: Honors a business flourishing in an innovative industry or approaching entrepreneurship in a groundbreaking manner via their products or services

Meta Layer Inc.

Jonathan Gosier, Co-Founder and Product Director; Mathew Griffiths, Co-Founder, Director of Platform:

Philadelphia, PA

Type of Business: cloud-based data visualization software developer


In a world increasingly reliant on data analytics, Meta Layer’s applications make worldwide information easier to understand, visualize and share. Jonathan D. Gosier, 31, and his business partner Matthew Griffith, founded the company in 2011. Meta Layer offers big data solutions to governments and enterprise customers, in areas of public safety, intelligence, disaster response, and law enforcement.


Pathbrite Inc.

Heather Hiles, CEO and Founder

San Francisco, CA

Type of Business: online portfolio platform developer


Heather Hiles founded Pathbrite in 2012 and is the developer of its e-portfolio platform, which helps students to collect, track and showcase their achievements. Pathbrite is the only e-portfolio platform in the market providing electronic copies of students’ ACT test scores. Some 25 colleges and universities have adopted Pathbrite.


Uncharted Play Inc.

Jessica O. Mathews, CEO and Co-Founder; Julia Silverman, Co-Founder/Chief Social Officer

New York, NY

Type of Business: social enterprise that develops products combining play and technology


Jessica Mathews, 25, is the co-founder of Uncharted Play and co-developer of SOCCKET, a portable generator in the form of a size 5 soccer ball. Its internal mechanism takes the kinetic energy from rolling around and stores it. A single bulb LED lamp can be plugged into the ball to provide hours of light.


Family Business of The Year: Presented to a family-operated business that exemplifies the combined experience and expertise needed to excel in a key industry.


Johnson Security Bureau Inc.

Jessica Johnson, President, and Charles Johnson Jr., co-owner

Bronx, NY

Type of Business: transport, guard, patrol and protective services company


Johnson Security Bureau is a third-generation family-owned armed and unarmed security firm. After their father died in 2008, siblings Jessica and Charles Johnson Jr. were left with the question of whether to make payroll or close the doors. They decided to keep and improve the business, and since then have hired more than 50 employees. Jessica, the company’s president and majority owner, has inked more than 12 new contracts, expanding business operations to New Jersey.


Abtron Associates Corp

Robert Green, CEO/President; Roosevelt Green, Director of Field Operations

Bay Shore, NY

Type of Business: environmental contracting and management company


Abtron is an environmental construction company specializing in providing advance remedial services in the asbestos, lead, mold and hazardous material abatement and demolition industry. Robert Green runs the business alongside his brother Roosevelt. Clients included the Dormitory Authority State of New York, Entenmann’s Bakery and Barnard College. 


JDT Concierge

David W. Thornton, President; Jennifer Thornton, VP Operations

Columbus, OH

Type of Business: transportation and concierge services


David Thornton started Columbus -based JDT Concierge in 2003 as a one-man operation from his home. Today the company is a full-service transportation and concierge services provider for private and corporate clients, including chauffer services, medical transport, and road trips to college campuses. Thornton’s wife Jennifer later joined him in 2008 as a partner and the couple moved the company to an office suite near Port Columbus International Airport.


Franchise Owner of the Year: Presented to a franchisee for outstanding performance and overall contribution in enhancing the growth and development of the franchising industry.


Lenny’s Sub Shop

Edith Kelly Green, Multiunit Franchise Owner

Memphis, TN

Type of Business: Philadelphia-style sub and sandwich shop


Edith Kelly-Green is a business owner, breast cancer survivor, and the largest multi-unit franchise owner for Lenny’s Sub Shop, a Philadelphia-style sub shop that is based in Memphis but is expanding across the country. Over a period of six years, Kelly-Green acquired 10 Lenny’s Sub Shops in Memphis and Oxford, Miss. She runs her stores—two of which consistently rank in the top 5% of all Lenny’s locations across the country—with her two sons, James Kelly and Ryan Green.


Anago Cleaning Systems of DC

Darren Williams, Master Franchisee, Owner & Regional Director 

Washington, DC

Type of Business: commercial and residential cleaning


Darren Williams is a master franchisee for Anago Cleaning Systems of Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he oversees 54 franchisees the employ roughly 150 people combined. Williams’ sales team finds cleaning contracts for Anago franchisees he recruits to the area. Clients include multi-tenant office buildings, sporting stadiums and bowling alleys in the nation’s capital. Williams’ Anago franchise was the official cleaning service of the 2012 Citi Open (formerly Legg Mason Tennis Classic).


Mr. Handyman

Skip Wyatt and Lorenzo Wyatt, Co-Owners

Fairfield, CT

Type of Business: home repair and maintenance


Lorenzo Wyatt, 42, and his father, Skip, 61, joined forces to run a Mr. Handyman franchise, an industry leader in home repairs and maintenance. Lorenzo developed an approach for the company that focuses on two aspects of home energy: diagnostics and upgrades.  This new developments led to an increase in hiring: The franchise has gone from three employees to more than 30. The Wyatts are members of Mr. Handyman’s Million Dollar Club.  In 2012, their business broke $2 million in sales—the first Mr. Handyman franchise to do so.


The Teenpreneur Award: This award recognizes entrepreneurs, age 19 or under, committed to the tradition of black business achievement.

Maya Ideas

Maya Penn, CEO

Canton, GA

Type of Business: online boutique selling eco-friendly garments and accessories


Maya Ideas is an online boutique that sells eco-friendly garments and accessories designed by Penn and sold to customers around the globe. An artist, animator, illustrator and writer, Penn originally set up her business at the age of 8, when she sold her creations through the online craft store Etsy in 2007. Now age 13, Penn donates 10% of the profits from her business to charities, including Hosea Feed the Hungry, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Captain Planet Foundation and Live Thrive Atlanta.




Jewelz of Jordan

Gabrielle Williams, CEO

Upper Marlboro, MD

Type of Business: fashion jewelry designer and retailer


Williams began creating jewelry at the age of 7, after watching an instructional video on YouTube. Founded in 2009, her home-based jewelry company, Jewelz of Jordan, sells beautiful fashion jewelry with a focus on mother-daughter matching jewelry. At age 9 under Gabrielle J. Williams International, Williams became an author of the book, The Making of a Young Entrepreneur: A Kid’s Guide To Developing The Mind-set For Success. By age 11 she was a highly sought after motivational speaker on entrepreneurship and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams.  Today, the 13-year-old CEO is focusing of creating fashion jewelry made with semi-precious gem stones, freshwater pearls, crystal, and Swarovski beads. In 2012, Jewelz of Jordan generated a little under $13,000 in revenues.



Shy-Way Essentials

Jesse Council, CEO, and Joziah Council, President

Midland, PA

Type of Business: skin cream for arthritis sufferers


Brothers Joziah, 14, and Jesse, 17, collaborated on a soothing skin ointment for people who have arthritis, sore muscles, or sprains. They trained with a local herbalist to come up with the ingredients to make Soothing Balm (formerly J&J’s Healing Cream), an all- natural ointment made from ten herbs, essential oils, bees wax, and extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. The goal was to produce an affordable and effective soothing cream, which is now available online.

The 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference hosted by Nationwide Insurance boasts high-powered sessions on critical business topics such as International Business, Finding Angel Investors, Social Media Marketing, The Art of Creative Partnerships, Corporate Procurement, Business Coaching, Protecting Your Idea/Invention, Franchising, Selling Online, Generating Cash for your Tech Start-up, Using Search Engine Optimization to Sell Your Goods and How to do Business with the Government.

For the aspiring entrepreneur, The Small Business Success™ Bootcamp offers a step-by-step approach to kick-starting a new enterprise. Plus, the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition will award $10,000 for the best new business idea and the Teenpreneur program will teach business fundamentals to youths, ages 13-17.

For updates, follow BLACK ENTERPRISE Entrepreneurs Conference page on Facebook and search the #BEEC hash tag on Twitter

The 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide is presented by American Express, DELL, PepsiCo and Walmart. Platinum sponsors include FedEx Express and Wendy’s International. Corporate Sponsors include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PR Newswire

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