Initially built to take the pain out of peer-to-peer payments, Cash App has gone from a simple product with a single purpose to a dynamic app, bringing millions of monthly active users a better way to send, spend, invest, borrow and save. With a mission to redefine the world’s relationship with money by making it more relatable, instantly available and universally accessible, it’s committed to ensuring that everyone has the financial knowledge and access to thrive.

Cash App leveraged its problem-solving power and ensured emerging entrepreneurs have the resources to be the next innovative leaders in tech by presenting AfroTech’s 2021 Young Founder’s Pitch Competition. The competition, hosted by Nicole Young, aired on November 12 on the AfroTech World Stage. The judges included:

  • Brian Hollins, Managing Partner – Collide Capital
  • Mia King, Brand and Marketing Lead – Cash App
  • Pilar Johnson, Co-founder and Managing Partner – Debut Capital

Tasked with the incredibly difficult responsibility of selecting a winner from the three finalists, each judge brought massive expertise and insight from their fields. 

If you couldn’t catch the pitch competition, read on to dive into some top takeaways.

The Future Is in Great Hands

Don’t be confused by the title of the competition. While the finalists are young entrepreneurs under age 25, they’re lightyears ahead of the game in terms of ingenuity and creativity. The 2021 finalists were:

Each finalist proved they understood the assignment by presenting revolutionary concepts. Whether it was simplifying the subletting process, redefining career development for Black tech aspirants or digitizing crating for dog parents, each presenter confidently offered solutions to level up their industries.

Making it to this stage of the competition was no easy feat. With a grand prize of $20K for the first-place winner, the pressure was on. While there could only be one first-place winner, those ending up in second and third didn’t leave empty-handed. The second- and third-place winners were awarded $15K and $5K respectively.

Ready, Set, Go

With all the pitches complete, the judges were ready to make a decision. This was more than a novel act — the decision would amplify a young Black voice and provide pivotal resources to thrust their company into the future. No one envied the task of choosing between the ideas from Interplay, ReRent and Beyond. But after some tough deliberation, the 2021 Young Founder’s Pitch Competition first-place winner was Jonaie Johnson of Interplay.

Based on the need to care for dogs despite a busy life, Interplay is working to improve the lives of both pets and their owners. Johnson’s technology creates digital crating experiences for dog parents through a remote-control crate attachment, the playTach.

A very deserving congratulation goes to Interplay for winning the 2021 pitch competition, as well as kudos to ReRent and Beyond for advancing to the finals and winning second and third place respectively. It’s never easy to be vulnerable enough to have your creative genius on display and judged. However, competitions like this are necessary for amplifying young voices and positioning startup organizations for long-term success. The commitment Cash App has to the future is evident and proof that it’s a leader in championing the efforts to secure the future of business and tech. 

To learn more about Interplay and the work it’s doing to help dog owners, click here.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Cash App.