The New York Public Library Raises a Glass to Celebrate the Winners of the 2016 StartUP! Business Plan Competition, Supported by the Citi Foundation

First place winner receives $15,000 to launch Reefill, an environmentally-friendly, on-the-go water distribution service in Manhattan

September 12 – We’ll drink to that! The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Citi announced today the winners of New York StartUP! 2016 Business Plan Competition, which included a water distribution service and a wine-loving bookstore.

The annual competition managed by NYPL’s Science Industry and Business Library (SIBL) and generously funded by the Citi Foundation awarded more than $30,000 to five new local businesses:

  • Top prize of $15,000 went to Reefill created by Patrick Connorton, Jason Pessel, and Andrew Betlyon. Reefill is a subscription-based service that provides New Yorkers with access to cold, filtered tap water from a network of refill stations throughout the city via Reefill’s app.

  • Noëlle Santos received the second-place award of $7,500 for The Lit. Bar, a bookstore/winebar to open in the South Bronx and become the only independent bookshop in the borough.

  • Christina Clark received the third-place award of $5,000 for her business Manhattan Mushroom Company, the first organic specialty mushroom farm located in New York City providing mushrooms to restaurants, grocery stores, food coops and others.

  • Jacqueline McCabe of Urby Lifestyle, LLC – the creator of the Urby Bag, which allows users to transport more via bicycle than the average cyclist -– and Kelli Lipson of Spoonable Spirits, a culinary line of boozy puddings and jellies, each received $1,500.

“The finalists of this year’s StartUP Business Plan Competition are joining a vibrant community of previous winners, thriving entrepreneurs, business experts, investors, and library staff – all of whom are dedicated to their success. We are all exceptionally proud of their hard work and progress they continue to make. Starting a business is difficult, but with the generous support of Citi, The New York Public Library has been able to provide resources that support New York City’s newest entrepreneurs and empower them to pursue their passions,” said Kristin McDonough, Director of SIBL.

“Small businesses employ, serve and enrich New Yorkers. In fact, there are more small businesses in the New York area than in any other metropolitan region in the country. They make our neighborhoods more resilient and unlock important wealth-building tools for entrepreneurs. That’s why Citi is proud to partner with The New York Public Library to expand access to economic opportunity and bolster the local small business community,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tri-State Director, Citi Community Development.

The finalists were selected over 74 other completed plans. The Library received 360 applications to the 2016 New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition. Entrants were required to attend an orientation, three out of four business planning workshops, and meet with expert business advisors in the course of writing their business plans. The workshops and business counseling sessions provided practical information about starting and growing a business and entrants made use of the extensive business collections and business information databases available at SIBL. The business plans were evaluated by a panel of judges representing local business development leaders from non-profits and public agencies, financial funders, and successful entrepreneurs.

Aspiring business owners can learn more about next year’s competition, New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition 2017, by visiting Completing an online orientation is mandatory for those who wish to participate in the competition. In order to qualify, entrants must be 18 years of age or older; live in Manhattan, the Bronx or Staten Island as a legal resident or United States citizen; and plan to start a business in one of those boroughs.

About The Science, Industry, and Business Library

The Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) is a premier public business library founded in 1996 with comprehensive print materials, e-resources, and services for start-ups and established businesses seeking expansion, and for job seekers from entry to executive levels. Library staff provide roving assistance and consultations, and advisory services are offered on-site by experienced business owners, career coaches, and a financial specialist.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, Youth Education and Livelihoods, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Enterprise Development to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at

About Citi Community Development

Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships.  Our focus areas include:  commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit