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Meet the Team

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Veda Swaminathan (L) and Aarya Dhru (R)
I3 Co-Founders
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Aarya Dhru and Veda Swaminathan

Aarya and Veda started this competition in high school after learning about the catastrophic impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on the small business communities around them. They observed the struggles that many entrepreneurs had with adapting to the online market place and to the rapid changes in digital marketing. 

As community minded individuals, Aarya and Veda searched for a solution from the community. Looking to their peers, they noticed the mass untapped potential of school students who were already well-versed in the merits and uses of digital infrastructure such as mobile apps, websites, and social media marketing. 

Thus, the I3 Competition was born: an innovative solution for small businesses who need help bolstering their digital infrastructure and students who need an outlet for their digital genius. 

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Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), founded in 2002, is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports economic development through entrepreneurship. They are experts in creating and implementing small business programming in support of larger economic development objectives. The organization's mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent access to the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation. 

Past and Present Judges 

Jill is the co-founder and CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), based in Newark, NJ. IFEL, founded in 2002, is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports economic development through entrepreneurship. As a 30 year champion for
black businesses, Jill is a pioneering voice for inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and is creating a new paradigm for the access to capital conversation. She is the driving force behind a new initiative, the Making of Black Angels, to drive diversity and inclusion within the investor ecosystem.

 

Jill is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York, Women Business
Collaborative, and Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs. She also serves on
the board of the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.

 

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Jill Johnson
Head Judge
CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, INSTITUTE FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP

James V. Harper is Managing Partner and Head of Debt Capital Markets at BCP. Prior to becoming Head of DCM in 2015, he was Head of Research for several years. Before joining BCP Securities in 2001, he was a VP at New York-based boutique investment bank The Weston Group, where he held a variety of roles in corporate finance, advisory, and research focused on Latin American Eurobonds.

 

Mr. Harper holds an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Columbia University as well as a MBA in International Business from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla and a B.A. from Dartmouth College, James is also a CFA Charter holder.

James Harper
Judge
MANAGING PARTNER / HEAD OF DEBT CAPITAL MARKETS, BCP SECURITIES

Madhunika Raghavan is the co-founder of Envision Health Partners, a full service market research agency which focuses on helping pharmaceutical and biotech companies prepare for a successful launch. 

Ms. Raghavan has worked to build healthcare market research competencies from the ground up, scaling them into valuable client partnerships, as well as led international high-performance teams to deliver business insights to senior leaders. 

 

She has 20+ years of research experience supporting major global brand marketing activities.

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Madhunika Raghavan
Judge
 MANAGING PARTNER AND CO-FOUNDER, ENVISION HEALTH PARTNERS LLC
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Moira started her business career working for an international trading company that focused on the Japanese metals marketplace.  After receiving her MBA from NYU,  she switched gears to spend the next 20 years working in the world of media trading and  corporate barter.

 

Working for leading companies in this space, Moira structured unique trade transactions that  solved distressed asset challenges and brought measurable value to her clients, many of them being Fortune 500 companies in the CPG and Retail industries.  

Moira Snover 
Judge
FORMER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AT EVERGREEN TRADING

A 25+ year community development and philanthropic leader, Guillaume-Delemar’s award-winning work has helped both local and national funders drive meaningful, equitable impact in communities nationwide. Her experience as a strategic advisor includes shaping the major gifts pipeline at the Washington Post-acknowledged Miriam's Kitchen and growing the organizational impact of Jubilee Housing by more than 400 percent.

A graduate of Howard University, Guillaume-Delemar’s work has been acknowledged by Fanm Potomitan, Bank of America, the National Capital Gift Planning Council, the Tom Joyner Foundation, and others across the United States. She sits on several boards where she continues to leverage her expertise as a facilitator and passion for racial and social justice to help marginalized communities reverse wealth inequities and preserve culture; including a special, personal focus on Haitians and Haitian-Americans.

Today, Guillaume-Delemar’s leads partnership and fundraising development for the Center for Community Progress and the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, which connects more than 1,400 grassroots leaders and revitalization professionals nationwide.

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Kathy Guillaume-Delemar 
Judge
CEO AND PRESIDENT at the CENTER for COMMUNITY PROGRESS & CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

Mentorship Team

Led by Vinodh Swaminathan, this team will be working one-on-one with our students to help scale their projects, grow their impact, and benefit the businesses in the most optimal way possible. 

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Vinodh Swaminathan
Head Mentor
CEO of Cyber Settle; Former GLOBAL LEAD PARTNER at KPMG;

Mr. Vinodh Swaminathan was the Global Lead Partner at KPMG and headed the Innovation & Enterprise Solutions team, where he led the firm’s Cognitive Innovation initiatives. He is a leading authority on market development, innovation and growth management, with more than 20 years of experience in strategy, operations and business transformation. He helps his clients leverage technologies including cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robotics to enable digital labor. He is now the CEO of a fintech startup called Cyber Settle. 

For the past three years, Mr. Swaminathan has hosted a series of workshops throughout the I3 Competition process to provide a space for teams to ask questions about their projects, learn business development strategies, practice their pitch, and more. He acts as an impartial advisor and mentor to all participating teams and leading our mentorship team. 

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Lara Ferguson
Mentor

Lara Ferguson holds a finance degree, a music degree (conducting), and has earned the Certified Financial Planner® designation as well as the Certified Exit Planning Advisor® designation. She will complete her Financial Planning Master’s degree this year. Her path has taken her through motherhood, business management in several industries, from construction to retail, and finally financial planning. Currently, she is a Senior Wealth Planner with Citizens Financial Group where she engages with clients in the financial planning arena, financial advisors in a coaching role, as well as business bankers as she collaborates with them to engage business owners in business strategy and planning.Outside of work, Lara loves to be outdoors, on the lake or in the mountains and she loves to travel. She has 6 adult children, who live all over the U.S. and 4 wonderful grandchildren, with number 5 due in March.
 

Jonathan Berman
Mentor

Jon is a serial entrepreneur and investor in the Chicago area. He co-founded The TonJon Company, a grooming accessories manufacturer, achieving over $18 million in revenue in 11 years. Additionally, Jon founded eQwip.com, generating $6 million in sales as a direct-to-consumer e-tailer for designer bath fixtures, and ElderProofHome, an ecommerce retailer and forum aiding seniors and caregivers with independent and safe living.

Before his entrepreneurial ventures, Jon spent over 8 years with Caterpillar, mainly in Europe as a Regional Product Support Sales Manager. He also dedicated 2+ years as a Peace Corps TESOL volunteer in the Republic of Korea. He enjoys traveling with his family, his Westie terriers, and following soccer avidly. 

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Aarya Patel
Mentor

 Aarya Patel is a second-year student at Northeastern University studying Data Science and Business with a concentration in marketing but is originally from Belgium. She currently works on the marketing team at Geeta's, a food company based in the United Kingdom, that has partnerships with Whole Foods, Virgin Atlantic, Tesco, and Aldi.

She has learned how to expand her skill set in marketing at an international level through  branding, positioning, and outreach.

 In her free time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and listening to music. 

 

Cheryl Floyd 
Mentor

Cheryl Floyd is an entrepreneur, spiritual healer/adviser and a pioneer across all her fields. Whether by being one of the first women in the country to be a Varsity Letterman on the Men’s Football Team, leading a top 20 Women’s Soccer team at Wake Forest University, or being a leader in the Title Nine movement, Cheryl has spent her life to date clearing new paths and setting new boundaries. After working with several Fortune 500 clients in New York City, Cheryl launched two small businesses.

Outside of work, Cheryl spends time with her four daughters, has become a Reiki Master, and counsels individuals on personal growth, wellness and finding their own limitless boundaries.

Our Interns

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Alexandra Nam
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Siena 
Sabitsana
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Maya Johnson
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Bella
Brown
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