What did you miss at Pitch Breakfast last week?
An industrial-grade mesh reusable bag for the removal of yard waste (created by a company we featured back in June). An online coaching platform that educates players and their families on how to improve their chances to play college basketball. And a digital platform to connect construction workers with construction employers (which we featured in May).
Each company had five minutes to pitch (with slides), followed by 10 minutes of feedback from our panelists, who this month included:
- Daniel Friel, innovator/board advisor/founder and chief strategy officer and co-founder of Nikia Dx
- Mark Bruinooge, managing Director, Clear Path Foundation
Here were the main takeaways from last week:
Start with your thesis
Lauri Eberhart and Marc Mataya want to save time, energy and the planet one plastic bag at a time. That’s why they created Leaf Burrito, a 5-foot bag that eliminates plastic bags from the yard waste system.
During the Q&A after her pitch, Eberhart, who worked as vice president for the NASCAR Speedway, explained how she was able to get the city to pilot 220 bags for residents of Brightwalk, a neighborhood close to Camp North End. She explained how the city approved the bags for pick up and how she hopes to work with city leaders to scale Leaf Burrito to be adopted citywide.
“Having Leaf Burrito adopted citywide helps promote the brand Charlotte is known for and helps promote a local startup. It was invented here, and it’s manufactured here. There is no reason why this shouldn’t be adopted citywide,” Eberhart said.
Eberhart detailed the company’s initiative to help Charlotte become a leader in sustainability. She also outlined Leaf Burrito’s plan to expand beyond Charlotte to target cities that have a no-plastic-bag ordinance.
But she did not have a clear ask to the room of professionals and potential investors.
“I wasn’t sure if you were going to get to, ‘I need $2 million to build a manufacturing line,” or if you were here to ask for access to policymakers and influencers around sustainability and green. Saying that upfront gets me as an audience member. Or if I don’t think that’s relevant to me, I can move on,” Friel said.
“I think I’ve said this at every Pitch Breakfast I’ve been to,” Friel continued. “I wrote this paper in college my freshman year where my professor was like, ‘The last sentence of your paper is where you start.’ You should just know the thesis.”
Have a well-balanced story
After 18 years of coaching college basketball, Aram Parunak launched Hoops College, an online educational platform helping players and coaches improve on any area they need. The company’s goal is to help players save money and have a better experience.
“We think if you can get a business degree online, why can’t you learn basketball online, as well?” Parunak explained.
He introduced his online curriculum with a story of a teenager whose parents invested thousands of dollars to get their son to play college basketball. But, while stories are important in a pitch, you’ve got to keep them short and impactful, the judges said.
“The story was a great way to get me engaged, but you spent 60 percent of your usable time on the story,” Bruinooge said. “I think the balance should be 30 percent story and just explain families are going spend a lot of money on this.”
“The way it came across is that you spent a lot of time on the problem, but when you got to the solution, it wasn’t really 100 percent clear what the solution was,” Friel said.
Resourceful? Brag about it
Keith Clithero, founder of Gig Connected, is working on a mobile-friendly web application that is connecting construction workers with job opportunities. Clithero wants to strengthen economic mobility in the blue-collar workforce by changing the hiring process and creating partnerships with educational institutions.
Clithero is a good example of an entrepreneur who has utilized the Charlotte entrepreneurial ecosystem well. During his last slide, he gave thanks to many Charlotte organizations that are helping him grow his business.
That’s worth capitalizing on, Bruinooge explained.
“Your story is very textbook as to how a lot of people should be using the community. There is something there. You actually touch on a lot of the resources in Charlotte and that shows something. You should highlight that because investors are going to see that and see that you are very resourceful guy,” he explained.
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