2021 Startup Showdown – Final 8

For an overview of the Startup Showdown: the Mother of All Competitions, our prize package, sponsors, timeline, and terms & conditions, please go to: https://tandemnj.com/startupshowdown/

You may vote once per round, for up to 4 businesses. Voting for this round ends at midnight on Saturday, April 10, 2021.

(Mobile users, scroll down to the bottom to VOTE)

Final 8

Center Stage Connections

Owner: Julie Campbell

Within the first 30 seconds of when you begin speaking, audiences make a decision about whether they are interested in what you have to say. In spite of a year of physical distancing, we still crave authentic human connection. Yet, as we yearn to connect, our immediacy-driven screen-based world cultivates impatience and distraction. If you are unclear about your story or unsure of what your audience needs, you miss the opportunity to connect with others and grow your business. When you come to your stage prepared with the tools of an actor, your presence is contagious, and your audience wants to learn more about your story. Center Stage Connections shares the lessons learned on the stage so individuals gain confidence in their story, team members come together around their message, and business people at all stages of their careers gain clarity, by learning how to invest themselves more fully and completely like an actor. Center Stage Connections offers an outside-the-box, empathetic, and deeply interactive approach to help people meet their goals for more shared, memorable, and impactful connections with clients, colleagues, and other humans.

As an actor, presenter, and storyteller for over 30 years on the stage and screen, Julie Campbell, Founder and Owner of Center Stage Connections, teaches business people how to think like an actor for more clear, confident, and impactful connections on the business stage. To think like an actor, Julie shares how to make active choices and bring the qualities of presence, authenticity, curiosity, clarity, and engagement to phone calls, meetings, and presentations. Whether you are looking to improve clarity in your business story, speak with greater confidence, drive alignment with your strategic vision in Powerpoint presentations, or deepen employee engagement, you must be the most memorable part of your clients’ and colleagues’ day. Customized (in-person or virtual) 1 to 1, team, and webinar sessions impart actionable and practical tips, tools, and techniques from the stage to meet your goals for more lasting connections. Energized clients from Novartis, Willis Towers Watson, CAE, Bayer Corporation, RoseComm, MEND, 28 Days, The Posse Foundation, and numerous authors, politicians, and business owners all know anyone can learn how to Be On!

Kasbo’s Market

Owner: Benita Kasbo

Kasbo’s Market officially launched in July 2020. Kasbo’s Market is a curated Middle Eastern food brand. As an immigrant from Syria, I want to share the delicious food and flavors I grew up eating. The first product in my “market” idea is my handmade Jibneh, Syrian cheese. Jibneh is currently sold at The Maplewood Wheelhouse as well as in two locations in New York City. My ultimate goal is to create a curated kiosk (end cap display) of Middle Eastern foods where customers can purchase cheese, spices, appetizers, dressings and more. The food I create will tell the story of my homeland all while sharing the culture behind it.

I have a specific mission and goals for Kasbo’s Market. I want to produce authentic delicious food and goods for people to learn about and enjoy. I want to use my business as a platform to connect people to Middle Eastern culture through food. With that in mind, I would like to employee Syrian refugees who have settled in New Jersey as my business grows. Lastly, I believe a Middle Eastern marketplace can create a new learning environment for customers. I will use my brand to educate customers about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Little Apple Arts

Owner: Becky Fisher

If this year has taught me anything it has been that you can’t control what happens to you BUT you can control how you react. My reaction to Broadway going dark over a year ago has been to choose joy and to connect two of my great loves, Theatre and KIDS, through Little Apple Arts!

We are local Broadway Professionals offering Theatrical Enrichment to kids. We have been meeting outdoors and masked since September, with the class leaders traveling to individual groups/pods of kids for Covid safety. We learn about Theatre and Theatrical productions while we sing, dance, act and play together. We currently offer classes and camps for ages 4-12 and we look forward to transitioning and expanding appropriately as the world creeps back to “normal.” We love connecting our passion for theatre with kids and we are honored to share our skills, experience and joy with our community!

Green Wheels Lawn

Owner: Laura Danton

Green Wheels Lawn is on a mission to provide lawn maintenance services that do not rely so heavily on fossil fuels. We want to create a neighborhood that is more peaceful and healthy with less noise from machinery and no emissions from gas-powered lawn equipment. Our lawn care practices will always be mindful of all the creatures, big and small, that inhabit yards. With that in mind our spring and fall clean ups follow different guidelines that give space for insects and other animals to safely over-winter.

Kinetic Studio

Owner: Sarah Riale

Kinetic Studio is a physical therapy practice for babies, children, and teens. My service optimizes a child’s movement and function to improve their quality of life. My practice has an additional specialty area of treatment for scoliosis using The Schroth Method. Schroth Method is an evidence based treatment program for any age person and has been shown to improve posture, slow progress of curve during growth or aging, and reducing the need for invasive treatments (bracing and surgery) for scoliosis and kyphosis. My therapy services are currently provided in the comfort and safety of client’s homes. It is my goal to open a clinic space locally to provide additional services such as group sessions, support classes/groups, and in-clinic therapy.

I am a mom to a 7 year old and have been a pediatric physical therapist for over 15 years. I was inspired to become a pediatric physical therapist because my younger brother was born with Down Syndrome. When my family and I felt uncertain of what the future would hold for him, it was therapists (PTs and others) that would come to our home and show us activities to help him move and learn and play. I remember how empowered I felt as a young child by these therapists and how much I saw them help my brother. From then, I knew then that I wanted to be a pediatric Physical Therapist. I have had a wonderful experience working at top children’s hospitals across the United States, including Boston Children’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s in Chicago, and am excited to bring my skills and experience to help empower as many children and families as possible.

Let’s Stay In SOMA

Owner: Nicole Aikins

Let’s Stay In | SOMa is a service that curates a date/fun night in, partnering with local vendors and restaurants, to create an intimate experience for couples & friend groups at home. It brings together all things great local to South Orange/Maplewood, while experiencing from the comfort of your home.

Our mission is to curate personal experiences at home, allowing people to remain connected to each other while disconnecting from the world temporarily.

Salty Daughter’s Sweets

Owner: Tisra DeWitt

Salty Daughter’s Sweets as it is today, developed from a previous incarnation in NYC, where I unofficially sold baked goods to friends and family. When we moved to SOMA in 2018, I noticed a lot of bakeries but no candy shops, so I revised Salty Daughters Sweets and started creating old fashioned candies and chocolates. We love featuring other local/small business goods in our candies (like SOMA Brewing Company’s’Two Towns Ale’ in our Father’s Day ‘Ballpark Brittle’, or Meadowland Syrups sold at Maplewood Mercantile, in our Mother’s Day buttercreams). We would love to one day be a staple in town, where everyone can come to satisfy their sweet tooth!


Owner: Ese Crossett

Tidylosophy is an interior design and organizing firm. We provide interior design and professional organizing services as a standalone or combined service. Tidylosophy is focused on creating stylish but functional spaces, as well as coaching clients on how to declutter and sustain the organization systems we help them establish.

Our mission is to transform spaces and create an organized life. I believe in “tidy ways, easy days.” In order to enjoy an easier day tomorrow, we must prepare today. Being organized shouldn’t mean ‘obsessive’. The important thing is how you feel about your space. My work reflects diverse cultures and ideas – this is important.