11-year-old entrepreneur to compete in Project Pitch It

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11-year-old entrepreneur to compete in Project Pitch It
Alex Hart-Upendo

Eleven-year-old Alex Hart-Upendo will compete against a number of other entrepreneurs in the second season of “Project Pitch It,” a competition for Wisconsin entrepreneurs similar to Shark Tank.

Sponsored by Cardinal Stritch University, the Milwaukee Bucks, Lindy Enterprises Inc., and a number of other companies, the competition helps entrepreneurs grow their companies.

For Alex, winning the prizes would be a dream come true. A fifth-grader at Gifford Elementary, Alex started his bowtie making company Build-A-Bow after he realized how much wearing them helped his self-esteem. His classmates used to bully him. But when he started to wear bow ties, he felt different.

“It was a way I could speak without speaking,” Alex said. “My mom taught me how to sew when I was five-years-old. And bow ties, they were like me superpower. So I wanted to share my superpower with everyone and tell people that everybody who wears them… that they are cool.”

Alex also started a community workshop program called Build-A-Bow for a Purpose. He provides food and space for people to make bow ties — at no cost — for someone battling an incurable disease. He’s also written a book called Bullies, Bowties, and Brilliant Alex.

“I wrote the book to empower children worldwide to be themselves and bring awareness to bullying and inspire youth entrepreneurship,” he said.

So how does Project Pitch It work?

Each week, three contestants on the show pitch their ideas to a panel of several judges. After they answer the judges’ questions, their project is assessed and the winner is awarded prizes valued at $30,000.

“The awards range from free tuition, mentoring and office space at Cardinal Stritch University, a business dinner with potential advisors and investors from the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center or $10,000 cash,” according to the show description. “Whatever the outcome, it all adds up to one of the most exciting and entertaining local shows on TV. And who knows? We may even uncover or inspire the next great American success story.”

The television show will air at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 on WISN Channel 12.