Colorado Springs' startups pitch their ideas at monthly Pitch Night
Building professional relationships in a roomful of strangers can be daunting, as can pitching a business venture.
But that didn't deter three entrepreneurs from pitching in on Pitch Night, an opportunity to network with local businesspeople and give or listen to local startup pitches. The free monthly event is sponsored by Peak Startup and is open to the public.
"Pitch Night is to help those participating to develop their skills and for the audience to see firsthand what's going on in the community," said Michelle Parvinrouh, executive director of Peak Startup. The local nonprofit fosters networking, mentoring, startup events and education programs for entrepreneurs. "It benefits our community if we have strong startups," Parvinrouh said.
Each pitch took five minutes, and presenters then answered questions from the organization's committee and received audience response.
"The biggest help is the feedback and getting other eyes and brains processing it," said Luke Hutchison, who pitched Perfect Venue, an app that matches events with available venues.
The startup is still in the launch phase, Hutchison said, but he hoped to gain new contacts, customers and teammates at the event.
Other presenters had similar aspirations.
"I came to Pitch Night to get customers and exposure," said Alex Belding, founder of Mad Crane Marketing, a new type of content management software to help businesses go beyond a brochure template and create their own customized website.
Numerous people approached Belding and the other presenters after they pitched to speak more about their products.
"I love seeing the creativity of the community," said Deborah Thornton, executive director of Imagination Celebration. "I'm ready to start using some of their products already."
Belding said he has three customers and hopes Pitch Night will provide him with more.
Erik Stone, founder of My Faith Fund, a crowdfunding platform for people of faith, said he gained confidence from the event.
"It helped me refine my message and brand," Stone said. "I've already made connections both technologically and additional services I might need."
But the path to that point was involved, Stone said.
Startups applied through Peak Startup; gave a practice pitch in front of its committee members, who provided feedback; attended a Pitch Night before their own; and submitted a video of their final presentation before the big night.
"It's important to educate people on the steps of a startup so they aren't having an idea and also thinking of an exit strategy," said Samuel Thomas Elliott, Pitch Night facilitator and co-founder of local startup Tejon Tech. "So many people try to skip a step, and they go nowhere."
But a lot of local startups are going somewhere.
Similar events promoting entrepreneurship also occur throughout the city, such as 1 Million Cups, a weekly platform for local startups to promote their businesses; NSCoderNight, a weekly get-together of local iOS and Mac developers; Pikes Peak Makerspace Bot Build, a place to work on projects or discuss the world of robotics every Saturday; and the monthly Women Who Startup, designed to empower female entrepreneurs.
"There's much more happening in the Springs' startup space than anyone realizes," said Paul Nielsen, board member of Peak Startup and founder and CEO of Tejon Tech.
About 100 local startups are going through the startup life cycle now, Parvinrouh said.
"The number is very optimistic," she said. "We're trying to encourage more people to start up and help those people already in startups grow."
But some local startups still lack resources, such as stakeholders.
"People are finding they have to travel to other places to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists," Nielsen said.
But Parvinrouh said the lack of funding at the beginning of a startup happens nationwide and isn't unique to Colorado Springs.
"Wehave the resources," Parvinrouh said. "We just need more of them."
This article originally appeared in the Colorado Spring's Gazette
Author: Caroline Laganas