Entrepreneurs offer Fast Pitches
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
The Fast Pitch program is a chance for regional business owners to get their hands on much-needed cash.
But it's not easy. Participants have to compete for the money and have a product worth supporting. Those lucky enough to make it to the final round are grateful for the chance.
"It gives us - the entrepreneur - the opportunity to pitch to people who have interest in building businesses in savannah. This is the best form of building our tax base back up in the community," said Don Ernsts of Kool Coatings.
The final competition, which is organized by Georgia Tech Savannah, Georgia Southern University and the Creative Coast, came down to three overall winners. Diana Keough got top honors.
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SAVANNAH--James Bowerman believed a market existed for his idea for a configurable bag that can go from a messenger pouch to a saddle sack to a backpack.
As the crush of college co-eds surrounded him, impromptu pre-order slips in hand, at the conclusion of Thursday’s FastPitch 2011, Bowerman knew he was on to something.
“Pretty cool for something that started as a class project,” the Savannah College of Art and Design grad student said. “But then I got an ‘A’ on it.”
Bowerman was one of 40-plus entrepreneurs to participate in the day-long competition and match-making event at the Coastal Georgia Center. Each entrant had three minutes to pitch his or her product or concept before a crowd of about 200 spectators, many of whom were investors ready to offer coaching, advice and guidance in obtaining financing, developing the venture and bringing the product to market.
Sponsored by the Creative Coast Alliance, Georgia Southern University and Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Fastpitch was organized to give local entrepreneurs exposure as well as instruction and advice on how to improve their sales pitches.
“I was blown away by the competency and quality of these presentations,” Larry Zaslavsky, an entrepreneurial fellow at Georgia Southern, told participants at the close of the event. “When I was the age of most of these men and women, I would have gotten up there and went, ‘duh, duh, duh.’”
Seven entrepreneurs stood out and received awards for the quality of their pitches and the investor appeal of their ideas.
Digital media website, pest control top ideas
The overall winner was Atlanta resident Diana Keough for her medical information website,www.sharewik.com.
Billed as “WebMD meets Facebook,” the site features blogs, podcasts and video reports focused on specific medical conditions. The focus is on expert advice for those suffering maladies and their friends and families and gives them a forum to share their
ShareWIK launched in January 2010.
“We blend the magic of storytelling with expert opinion,” said Keough, a former health-care reporter for the Plain-Dealer, a daily newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.
Louise Hodges took runner-up honors for her and her husband’s Green Bug All Natural Pest Control product.
The Beaufort residents have developed a liquid made from the active ingredient in cedar wood that kills gnats, mosquitoes, cockroaches and fire ants but is not harmful to other insects, like bees and ladybugs, or humans and pets. The product is dispersed as a mist using home irrigation systems.
Keough and Hodges both had developed products, but many of the other award winners as well as several of the participants were at the conceptual stage. The ideas ranged from Bowerman’s configurable backpack and a Harry Potter-themed dinner theater to a device that converts water into hydrogen fuel and software for data management.
“Every time somebody got up there I thought, ‘That’s a great idea’ or ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’” said Kate Strain, an attorney with Belter Law and one of the competition judges. “This competition really made me realize there are many people who have great ideas for businesses, and this is a great forum for them to get exposure.”
The top-seven products and concepts presented at Thursday’s Fastpitch 2011 competition, as determined by a panel of judges.
- James Bowerman (Savannah College of Art and Design) for his configurable bag. Designed for college students, the bag easily converts from messenger pouch to saddle sack to backpack.
- Elise Shuford (Georgia Southern University) for the “Magical Banquet at Hogwarts” dinner theater. The show would bring the Harry Potter movies to life in a dining experience.
- Mariah Hay (SCAD) for her stylish healthcare equipment. The visually attractive and comfortable crutches, arm slings and braces would appeal to those looking to overcome the psychological impact on healing. The devices would remind users not that they’re sick or hurt but that they are healing.
- Chris Masters (Savannah College of Massage) for his “Muscle Magic” foam rubber demonstration and training gear.
- Louise Hodges (Beaufort, S.C.) for “Green Bug Pest Control Solution.” The product is a liquid made from the active ingredient in cedar wood that kills gnats, mosquitoes, cockroaches and fire ants but is not harmful to other insects, like bees and ladybugs, or humans and pets. It is dispersed as a mist using home irrigation systems. The product launched in January 2010.
- Diana Keough (Atlanta) for “ShareWIK.” The website bills itself as “WebMD meets Facebook” and features blogs, podcasts and video reports focused on specific medical conditions. The focus is on expert advice for those suffering maladies and their friends and families and gives them a forum to share their experiences. The site launched in January 2010.
- Kevin Werntz (Savannah) for “Peas-Corp.” The company brands and markets mobile and traditional game products and brought a board game, Whirled Peas, to market last year.
"then magic happened, like a catharsis happened with them as soon as they knew that story, what they’d been through, was going to help somebody else.”
Based in Atlanta, the company’s online community, co-founded by a former reporter, has been growing by leaps and bounds -- but Diana Keough developed the idea for ShareWIK out of a painful past – one that she is only now just beginning to share. Read more....
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