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Two LIers win Youth Entrepreneur Challenge

Jesse Tang, one of two winners in Capital

Jesse Tang, one of two winners in Capital One's annual Youth Entrepreneurs Challenge, said he plans on using the funds on marketing for a restaurant. (May 9, 2013) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Two businesses on opposite sides of the spectrum -- a low-tech restaurant concept and a high-tech medical device -- took the top prizes in a contest for young Long Island entrepreneurs Thursday afternoon.

On one end was Pink Nori, a Japanese restaurant that Stony Brook University senior Jesse Tang, 22, plans to open this summer with his family in Astoria, Queens.

At the other end was SmartEKG -- a comfortable and wearable heart monitor connected to a smartphone app that was designed by Eric Forkosh, 20, of Woodmere and his team of fledgling entrepreneurs.

The two participants each won $10,000 for coming out on top at the Long Island Youth Entrepreneur Challenge.

The contest, sponsored by Capital One Bank and Bohemia-based FrontStreet Facility Solutions, allowed Long Islanders between the ages of 17 and 22 to submit business ideas.

Full-time college students were part of the "student" track, while non-students could apply to the "entrepreneur" track.

Nine finalists were chosen to flesh out their ideas with mentorship from Capital One bankers, and the participants each pitched live before a panel of judges on Thursday.

Tang, who won in the student track, said during his presentation that Pink Nori would use a make-it-yourself sushi menu to draw more customers.

He plans to use the new funds on marketing for the restaurant.

Tang participated in the contest last year as a finalist for a different business idea but did not win. This year he said he took more of the mentors' advice.

"They gave me feedback to talk more about funding, timeline and how I would incorporate the $10,000," he said. "And I made sure the last two minutes of the pitch went to all that."

Forkosh said the money from the win in the entrepreneur track would go toward funding a clinical trial on the SmartEKG monitor at a New York university.

The company already has partnerships with cardiologists and a prototype built, with a patent pending on the device, he said.

"I'm really grateful," Forkosh said. "This $10,000 is really what we need to do our next step."

This is the second year that Capital One and FrontLine have held the entrepreneur challenge.

Sue Kiesel, senior vice president at Capital One and a judge at the event, said next year she hopes to raise the profile of the contest to encourage more applicants.

The contest drew 16 applicants last year and around 15 this year.

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