What's the big idea?
When a baseball pitcher steps up the mound to prepare for his throw, there are several tactics that come into play – having the right grip on the ball, an effective wind-up, proper execution, and, of course, good follow-through. Such will be the case for a group of eager entrepreneurs who will be conducting some “pitches” of their own at the Daniel Island Club on March 22. Only in this case, the catchers will be a savvy team of investors poised to help launch their new business ideas from home plate to first base and beyond.
The program - entitled “What’s the big idea?” – is being presented by Dianne Shaver, creator and CEO of Entrepreneur Mind World, host of the “It’s Your Business” radio show, and founder of “Pitch U,” an eight-week intensive training program for start-ups. The upcoming event will showcase seven local entrepreneurs coached by Shaver. Jason Burke, co-founder of The New Primal, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Shaver, founder and CEO of the “What’s the big idea?” series, created the programs to help provide an alternative pitching opportunity for a smaller group of entrepreneurs (other pitch events typically involve up to 30 or more presenters). With a more manageable number of participants, entrepreneurs have more contact with investors through follow-up emails and meetings. Shaver also interviews the investors beforehand to make sure they are interested in helping start-ups. During the six-minute pitch, investors get an idea of what the business is all about, its current stage, who makes up the lead team, as well as why the entrepreneur is seeking funding and how it will be used.
Shaver’s time-tested tips give entrepreneurs the tools they need to sell their products and services to investors. “Entrepreneurs fall in love with their business, as they should,” said Shaver. “But sometimes that stops them from assessing it with a critical eye, which they must do if it’s going to become a solid business. In Pitch U, they learn the nitty gritty of how they are going to make money and what their competition is, so they can improve on it.” They also learn to be realistic about the market for their products, continued Shaver, and to make financial projections based on that.
“This is where it moves out of the vision and into reality,” she said.
Presenting at Shaver’s upcoming “What’s the big idea?” event will be Brandon Brooks of JYVE, a mobile app that connects musicians to local venues and allows non-musicians to see what’s happening on the local band/artist scene; Terry Peterson of Envies Flavor Shot, a product that adds flavor to beer, wine, vodka, gin, etc. to create personalized drinks; Huba Rostonics of RALENTAGE, a technological solution that helps families and caregivers cope with the consequences of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease; Jennifer Santoro of Vaetas, a service that allows customers to create interactive videos with calls to action; Boyd Stough of Espy Space Time, a web-based exchange for the buying and selling of extra advertising space and time; Trey Tezza of Find My Path, a service that seeks to make education and sharing educational resources easier and more meaningful; and Kerranna Williamson and Amy Domangue of Alis Health, an external sales team designed to address the commercialization needs of mid-size diagnostic labs and to close the gap between the need for and accessibility of genetic testing. “I want them to have confidence in themselves and what they can do,” said Shaver, of her goals for her students. “To learn how much they are capable of and what they can achieve. To believe in themselves and to see how resourceful, resilient and remarkable they are.”
All of the entrepreneurs’ hard work will culminate in the March 22 program (this is Shaver’s fifth “What’s the big idea?”event). But Shaver cautions that expectations must be realistic. Although somewhat similar in nature, the popular television show “Shark Tank” is not a good comparison to what her program is all about. “I don’t think people are aware of the funding process,” she said. “Shark Tank, as wonderful as it is, has given a false impression of the funding. Seeking funding is a long process. It’s important to find the right investors.” And investors, she continued, must find the companies they feel confident in, based on the experience of the team, the concept of the business, and its viability in the marketplace.
“They want to see sweat equity in a company,” Shaver added. “That the founder/founders have put everything into it before they seek funding and are only seeking it because they can’t go any further without an infusion of capital…Investors make their money either by a convertible note or when an entrepreneur exits their company through a merger or acquisition usually.” But before any of that happens, investors must feel comfortable backing a particular company or product.
“If they don’t fund a company, it doesn’t mean that the company isn’t good,” said Shaver. “It is just not a good fit for them at this time.”
Entrepreneurs will also typically pitch many times before they find their investors. Not just initially, explained Shaver, but as the business grows often a company will seek funding to go to the next level. It’s all part of the journey, she said.
“It is an arduous process and not for the faint of heart. But then, being an entrepreneur takes a lot of determination and persistence. It’s not all glamour and excitement. Sometimes, it gets downright boring and tough – but the end result is all worth it!”
Several of Shaver’s Pitch U graduates have found success in launching their businesses, including Heather Szasz of My Puppy Box. Szasz recently received a $10,000 investment that allowed her to order her supplies in bulk and get her new business off the ground. Shaver is hopeful her newest crop of entrepreneurs will find similar success.
“We’ve got quite a range from my point of view,” she said. “Entrepreneurs are solving all kinds of problems. That’s where the solutions are coming from – not the corporate sector. They are solving big problems and smaller problems. The services and products they are providing are going to help people live better lives, more fun lives, and more productive lives. They’re pretty incredible and they all have such dedication. They are phenomenal and admirable for striking out and doing something that hasn’t been done before.”
And with any luck, their upcoming pitches will result in at least a few home runs. For additional information on Shaver’s Pitch U or “What’s the big idea?” programs, visit www.entrepreneurmindworld.com.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
A ‘Pitch U’ event!
Wednesday, March 22 5 to 7 p.m.
Daniel Island Club
Tickets are $10 per person.
Come see entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors! For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/whats-the-big-idea-pitch-event-tickets-32128793085. This event is being presented by “What’s the big idea?” Founder Dianne Shaver, creator and CEO of Entrepreneur Mind World, in partnership with The Daniel Island News and sponsor Daniel Island Real Estate.