This is Small Business Next Generation

Spinoff Miniseries

Witness the ultimate battle of wits and innovation as entrepreneurs compete for up to $3M in prizes in one of the largest and richest intercollegiate startup competitions. Join Andrea Marquez and Mitch Gilbert as they take you behind the scenes of the Rice University Business Plan Competition and follow four teams as they prepare to pitch their business ideas in front of some of the world's leading venture capitalists and investors. Can they handle the pressure? Will their business ideas stand out? Will they have what it takes to win? Make sure you’ve got your small business playbook ready because we’ll be pointing out key learnings from each episode so you feel ready to take on the challenge of pitching your business.

Listen to new episodes every Tuesday, this summer 2023.

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About the hosts

Andrea Marquez is a Mexican-American, Host and Producer of This is Small Business at Amazon. She joined the Small Business Empowerment team at Amazon to help bring additional resources and tools to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is also the creator and former host of an award-winning bilingual podcast seeking to motivate audiences to get involved with the Latinx community. Andrea holds an M.A. in Journalism and Legal Studies from Harvard University and a B.A. from Columbia University.

Andrea Marquez

“These competitors are on the same path of figuring it out. Having a community of entrepreneurs that can help each other out is super important in the often-lonely journey of building a business.”

Mitchella “Mitch” Gilbert is an inclusive product designer. She was a former elite athlete and Nike employee, so she is obsessed with women’s health and sportswear apparel. She attended the UCLA Anderson School of Management after earning a full scholarship to build her startup Oya Femtech Apparel. She is one of the first 200 Black women to raise over $1M in venture capital and she graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy. Oya Femtech Apparel is her fourth company.

Mitch Gilbert
Founder of OYA Femtech Apparel and ex-RBPC competitor

"I think all businesses should go through pitch competitions early on because you have to practice communicating your idea to people who don't know you. For underrepresented founders, it's even more critical because starting a business requires some form of capital."