Eugene “House” Williams, the founder and CEO of Box Boys Global, knows the most reliable, indestructible and efficient way to send anything of value. He came to this revelation while sitting in a federal holding cell and pondering his arrest for exploiting weaknesses within the US postal service, where he was employed. With this knowledge, House and his partner have created a product that allows for a more safe and secure package delivery system.

Helen “Skip” Skipper, the founder and CEO of PRIDIZM, is a natural salesperson who has overcome 20 years of homelessness, addiction and incarceration. She specializes in authentic, high quality and affordable LGBTQ-branded merchandise, which according to her astute, primary market research, is not readily available on the streets or in New York stores. She noticed the limited variety and poor quality of Pride-branded merchandise and is focused on growing her business and capitalizing on the opportunity to supply the demand of this growing market.

At the age of 16, Antwoin “Chef Fresh” Gutierrez exhibited the first signs of an emerging, but misguided, entrepreneurial spirit when he began to sell illegal narcotics. Following a stint behind bars, a more mature Antwoin recognized that the business skills he developed on the streets could be applied to more legitimate ventures. As the founder of Fresh Taste Bakery, his awakening demonstrates the power of second chances, as he has become an inspiration to hustlers and businessmen alike, as well as a role model to his 11-year-old son.

With a tape measure coiled strategically around his neck, Alex Arguello can size you up quickly and notice the pick stitching detail of the lapel on your suit jacket. The founder of About the Stitch is a tailor and designer, who provides alterations and custom tailoring to men, women, and retailers in the Garment District. Alex proclaims that “My greatest success story is obtaining a major e-tailor as a customer and generating over $120,000 in eight months from starting my business.”

All four business builders were encouraged to register for the eBay NYC StartUp Cup 2018 by Defy Ventures New York, a New York based non-profit that provides entrepreneurial, employment, and character training for people with criminal histories through an incubator program and “Shark Tank” style business pitch competitions. To date, Defy NY has graduated 467 EITs (entrepreneurs-in-training) both inside and outside of prison, incubated and financed 101 companies, and has a <5% return to prison rate.

During the Extreme Build A Business Weekend, powered by GriffinWorx and held at LIU-Brooklyn’s WRAC Gym, these four business builders, along with almost 100 participants, received hours of coaching from certified mentors. What is clear is that all four EITs possess the intelligence, self-confidence, drive, and determination to build businesses, achieve their dreams and compete head to head with other worthy entrepreneurs in the eBay NYC StartUp Cup.