Hofstra ‘star’ shines in national women’s biz contest

With style: "Flare" co-founder Carrisa Anderson pitches her app at a 2017 Hofstra University business-plan competition.

Showcasing a “Flare” for the dramatic, a Hofstra University marketing major has captured first place in a prestigious national entrepreneurship program.

Pitching an app that connects underrepresented consumers with local stylists, Carrisa Anderson, who’s scheduled to earn her marketing degree in December, took top honors this month in a national business-plan contest sponsored by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

The contest was a main draw of the WBENC’s annual National Business Fair and Conference, held June 18-23 in Las Vegas. Anderson, one of just 20 young women selected for the national 2017 WBENC Student Entrepreneurship Program, was on hand to pitch Flare, a booking, scheduling and payment app that helps customers find and book appointments with local barbers and stylists who cater to their hair or skin types.

Her Vegas visit included classes on various aspects of entrepreneurship and small-business management, including mentoring from executives of Dell Technologies, Exxon Mobile Corp., Macy’s, Pfizer and Walmart Stores, as well as the U.S. Postal Service and a host of other Fortune 500 companies.

Mark Lesko: Anderson’s got what it takes.

While the educational component was priceless, Anderson had a slight advantage over some of the other competitors when it came to the pitch-a-thon: Not only did she hone her business plan at Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, but she’d previously pitched the app in several local business contests – and compiled a winning record to boot.

The soon-to-be graduate, who cofounded the app with a friend who had trouble finding a worthy stylist while he was away at school, took first place in the university’s Lion’s Den 2017 Pitch Competition and earned an honorable mention in the 2017 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge, helping her tune up her WBENC presentation.

Mark Lesko, Hofstra’s vice president of economic development and executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship, called Anderson “one of our stars” and a true standout at the center, which launched in 2015 and has already helped hundreds of Hofstra students hone early-stage business plans.

“She has persistence, passion and creativity, traits every aspiring entrepreneur must possess,” Lesko said in a statement. “Her future is limitless.”