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HCC sponsored competition challenges inventors and entrepreneurs

Nov 17, 2015

The last free training session held at the Houston Community College West Loop Campus consisted of women, some students, and business professionals from different backgrounds. They gathered in one room with a similar mission – to learn how to deliver a compelling one-minute business pitch. 

The goal is to take home up to $70,000 in cash prizes from the national InnovateHER competition in Washington, D.C., but first these contestants have to win the preliminary round in Houston to compete on that stage.

“The InnovateHER Competition is a phenomenal opportunity for a woman who has developed an idea for a product or service that has the potential to impact many women and families,” Chief Entrepreneurial Officer of the HCC Office of Entrepreneurial Initiatives Dr. Maya Durnovo said. 

Halfway through the session Gittel Tanenbaum stood up, clad in black, with a calm demeanor. Her pitch was decisive and tactical. It demanded attention. The noisy room fell silent during her one-minute pitch. Tanenbaum is an aeronautics engineer. Her business plan, The Math Choice, is a tutoring service in Houston that provides customized learning strategies for various subjects. They include math, science, writing, reading, and standardized test preparations. She said her approach sets itself apart by challenging students to come up with their own solutions, unlike most traditional lesson plans.

“Instead of the tutor giving the answers to that particular problem, we’ll back up, talk about fractions, fill in that hole the student has and continue with tonight’s homework,” Tanenbaum said.

The goal is to give students confidence as they work through daily assignments. Tanenbaum said conquering one problem at a time builds self-reliance and produces a positive ripple effect leading toward improved grades and overall success. Her passion for teaching started when a friend asked Tanenbaum to help her son in pre-calculus. Witnessing the growth of her first student planted the seed that a new career might be possible.

Tanenbaum believes her business will help push the limit and encourage women to move away from traditional at-home roles and venture toward higher-paid occupations especially in math and science. Tanenbaum is adding hope, subtracting corporate barriers, and yielding positive results for other women in business at a time when numbers have dropped. Over the last 15 years, the number of women involved in capital partnerships dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent. It’s why the U.S. Small Business Administration teamed up with HCC, Microsoft and the City of Houston office of business opportunity to support women like Tanenbaum and hold these competitions nationwide.

The winners will be announced during Women’s History Month in March.

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