Miami Dade College (MDC) Idea Center Startup Challenge semifinalists Christian Andressen and Leyanis Diaz were honored recently as recipients of the second annual American Entrepreneurship Awards, a non-profit organization that aims to support American startup businesses and entrepreneurs.
The awards ceremony took place at MDC’s acclaimed restaurant Tuyo, located at the top floor of MDC’s Miami Culinary Institute.
Andressen, who is an MDC student and founder of the Umbrellas app, was awarded a grant of $5,000, as the MDC student track winner.
Umbrellas is a social media platform that allows users to share their problems and give advice in an entertaining and anonymous way, on an open forum, but with the option to decide the radius of the feed. The app’s ultimate goal is to empower students and professionals to share their knowledge and experiences while helping others. Umbrellas is available in the Apple App store.
“Winning the award felt like finding a cold can of soda in the desert,” Andressen said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world because my idea was being validated. Being in a startup is hard. It requires a lot of commitment and resilience and getting this award helps you know you are on the right path.”
Diaz, founder of the Major Marketplace, was awarded a zero interest loan for $25,000. Major Marketplace is an online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. They curate local and international products and services made and offered by passionate creators, bridging conscious buyers to minority businesses.
“Winning the American Entrepreneurship Award means everything to us,” Diaz said. “It means that someone believes in us, in the work that we’re doing and our mission. We get to continue to make a difference in the minority community by creating not just a marketplace but a lifestyle and a network of support.
Andressen and Diaz were previously semifinalists in MDC’s Idea Center Startup Challenge, a 12-week program that gives participants the knowledge, experience, and access to network to bring a business idea to life.
Other AEA winning companies, who each won a $25,000 no-interest loan, mentorship and support services were: PIERCE Plan (gotpierce.com); SOP Technologies (soptechint.com); UX Gofer (uxgofer.com), and Ustaff.