Floss, football, bitcoin and Bluetooth-enabled pillows.
That was the roster of startups participating in Pitch Breakfast this week, taking advantage of a prime opportunity to practice their pitch in front of an audience of local experts.
- Betolio, a mobile app that connects football fans and lets them bet real money with each other.
- UFloss Inc, the most innovative way to floss all of your teeth at once.
- McCoy Kreations, maker of the world’s sexiest interactive Bluetooth audio pillow designed for the hospitality industry resorts, cruise lines and spas.
- Hoard Invest, which makes it incredibly easy for individuals and businesses to buy, sell, trade, spend and store cryptocurrency.
The judges were:
- Alan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Open Broadband, co-founder of Charlotte Hearts Gigabit and NC Hearts Gigabit and adjunct professor
- Rob Cummings: private equity MD, entrepreneur, software executive and investor, Falfurrias Capital Partners
- Daniel Friel: innovator, board advisor and founder, Nikia Dx
When CJ Mason took the stage along with his co-founders, Sobanna Kern and Renee Cola, he talked about how 80 percent of cavities occur where brushing doesn’t reach. He talked about how your smile is the first thing people see when they look at you. And he talked about how his company was going to make flossing — the process most people hate — faster, easier and more effective.
Their solution involves a $249 join fee, a photo and an app to turn that photo in your UFloss solution. But for some of the judges, it wasn’t entirely clear how technology was going to improve upon the tried and true, store-bought floss.
The suggestion: Use video — in your pitch and on your website.
“Explain how you take the snapshot. Shoot a video of 90 seconds and put in on your website. I think that would go very well,” said Rob Cummings of Falfurrias Capital Partners.
Tell stories — but know when to stop
Shelton McCoy created the world’s first Bluetooth pillow after a personal awakening.
He heard about the possible cancer risk associated with keeping your cell phone glued to your ear, and then he walked into his daughter’s room one night, only to find her with a cell phone wrapped to her head so she could talk hands free.
Since then, he’s secured a patent, appeared on Good Morning America and started selling his pillows to bigwigs in the hospitality industry: Hilton and Carnival Cruises.
“You will be able to see a decorative pillow, order food with your pillow, talk to your pillow,” McCoy said.
Cummings is a big believer in the power of stories to sell a product and a business, but in the case of McCoy and his Bluetooth pillows, the story may have upstaged some of the more important points.
“I love storytelling and you started your pitch with storytelling, but you went a little long. So what happened is you missed a couple key points: You missed your team. You missed product differentiation. I wasn’t sure the problem you were solving until the end,” Cummings said.
Justify high price points
Back to UFloss — when Mason pitched the product, he was upfront about the price point: It was high.
The cost comes in at $249 to join, and $19 per month after the fact.
That was hard to swallow for Daniel Friel, of Nikia Dx.
“My initial reaction on the pricing: I can go into CVS and get floss for a couple dollars,” Friel said. “I was concerned about how you get customer adoption.”
It’s not necessarily a call to drop your prices; you just have to justify them.
Check out the next PitchBreakfast on March 14 at Packard Place!