Kourtney Brooks, who heads TINGE, also received a one-year desk membership at 36 Degrees North, a dedicated yearlong mentor and additional resources to launch her business. Brooks, one of five competitors to deliver a five-minute live pitch, said the semipermanent, full-body product is designed to lighten the skin as a safe alternative to techniques used in places such as India and the Middle East.

According to data from Global Industry Analysts, the skin-lightening industry will become a $23 billion industry by 2020. An AC Nielsen report dating to 2009 estimated that in India alone, more than $432 million worth of skin-lightening products were being consumed every year, a number experts say has risen dramatically since then.

“It’s definitely a niche product with a huge base, not necessarily domestically,” one of the competition’s four judges said during deliberations. “But the implications globally are what’s most intriguing for TINGE.”

At Wednesday’s Demo Day event at the Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity, app maker Change EDU (Jaelyn Jackson) placed second and won $4,000, and diabetic dessert maker Tasty Towne (P.J. Daugherty and Susan Denney) finished third and captured $2,500.


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.