On Tuesday, December 6th, Maison Courvoisier hosted the Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards, marking the latest endeavor in support of the brand’s global philanthropic platform, Foundation 1828. The event took place right here in Philadelphia at the P4 Hub, a popular coworking and community event space that was started by a group of local black and minority entrepreneurs. Together with the Urban League of Philadelphia, Courvoisier hosted a pitch competition, small business networking session, and educational panel featuring local community partners – all while guests enjoyed Courvoisier cocktails.


The evening began with a cocktail hour in the reception space of the venue. Guests were invited to mingle and chat while sipping on Courvoisier cocktails and enjoying passed hors d’oeuvres. The main events of the evening were kicked off with a toast from co-host Eli Taylor, Courvoisier Curator in Philadelphia, closing out the cocktail hour and ushering guests to be seated for the pitch competition. After a few welcoming words from co-host Keith Ellison, who serves as the Program Director of the Urban League of Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Center. Competitors were invited to pitch their businesses to three esteemed judges, including Marla Hamilton, Senior Vice President of Client Engagement and Business Support at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation; Stephanie DeVane, Vice President of Entrepreneurship & Business Development at the National Urban League; and Ivan Hidalgo, Beam Suntory’s Vice President of North America Marketing.


Once each candidate had the opportunity to pitch their business, the judges retired for a deliberation period. During this time, a panel discussed resources and relevant topics for small business owners in the Philadelphia market. Following deliberation, the judges returned to announce the winners of the pitch competition, who received a combined $55,000 in grants. The small business finalists were:


  1. Grand Prize Winner ($25,000) – Nicck Townsend, Nicck Townsend Salon
    • Nicck’s salon in Philadelphia offers top-notch brow services to clients from all over the East Coast. With his winnings, Nicck will enhance the experience for students in his Masterclass, expand his tour to 12 more cities across the U.S. and continue developing new products.
  2. First Runner Up ($15,000) – Antwain Bullock, Sweet Treat Hut
    • Sweet Treat Hut is a café and juice bar founded on the goal of helping others make healthier choices and commit to a more nourishing lifestyle. With his winnings, Antwain will purchase a facility where he will be able to make and ship all Sweet Treat Hut’s products to customers across the U.S.
  3. Second Runner Up ($10,000) – Lynette Smith, Nutz About Popcorn
    • A gourmet popcorn store that offers a wide selection of mouthwatering premium popcorn flavors and delectable chocolate and candied treats. With her winnings, Lynette will expand her business by beginning to work on her national franchise business plan, specifically purchasing vending machines to put all over the Northeast.
  4. Third Runner Up ($5,000) – Melinda Caraballo, A&I Security
    • A&I Security is a family-owned private security firm that provides a range of security services including uniformed guards, background checks, and security vulnerability assessments. With her winnings, Melinda will purchase an additional transportation vehicle that will be dedicated to transporting community members to and from events.


During the event, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of the judges, Ivan Hidalgo, Vice President of North America Marketing, who shared details about the event, Foundation 1828, and the partnership with the National Urban League.  Hidalgo mentions, “This event marks the third Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards we have hosted this year across the U.S. As part of Foundation 1828, our platform aims to keep the spirit of entrepreneurship thriving through meaningful financial and educational support in underserved populations.”


Hidalgo continued, “Courvoisier was founded by two entrepreneurs who believed in supporting the close-knit collective of artisans in its hometown of Jarnac, France. It’s important that we use our brand platform to help others in the areas where we exist, and that’s exactly why we’re hosting this event in Philadelphia. Entrepreneurs come in many different forms, from all walks of life and varying income levels. Courvoisier recognizes the importance of nurturing that drive, passion, and creativity in these individuals – especially for those who may have the odds stacked against them.”


The Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards is the latest initiative in Courvoisier’s multi-year partnership with the National Urban League. As part of Foundation 1828, Courvoisier has committed $1 million over five years to aid Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. To date, Maison Courvoisier has provided nearly $725,000 in funding, including small business grants and donations supporting the National Urban League and its affiliates.