On Being Selected for the BizPitch Competition

Towards the beginning of the 2016, I was informed of an upcoming event called BizPitch.  It is put on by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in this area, a very helpful organization.  If you were selected, you could present your small business idea or actual start-up to a small group of local business-savvy people from various sectors. It was presented like the TV show “Shark Tank”, but without any money being offered.

I submitted my application and was one of 3 folks selected.  The director of the local SBDC office who alerted me to the opportunity, drove me to the event.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the first presenter because it showed me how it all worked.  It took place in the classroom of the local community college.  Tables ran around 3 sides of the room with the panel, observers and the other presenters sitting on the outside.  The first presenter was a young man with some kind of mobile app idea.  As he spoke from behind the lectern, it became apparent that the fellow was known to two of the panelists.  The feedback was basically, “yes we’ve heard all this before, what have you done with the advice we gave you last time?”  An awkward moment.  So I was prepared for some tough love.

Since no one said not to, I had already spread out all of my stuff on the tables on the 3rd side of the room.  So I was more or less ready when they said it was my turn.  I stood near my materials and talked about the situation people face who are dealing with vision loss as they try to manage their daily schedule.  I ran through my experience with seeking a product I could use and the path that eventually led to me starting my business.  That story is on my website if they wanted even more information.

Over the next 20 minutes I showed them the original, partial-year calendar that got so many people to urge me to start the business.  I showed them the 2016 version that I was selling and the Sample I created and sent out to prospective quantity buyers.  Then at the end I passed out the profit and loss statement that the accountant I had recently hired to  had created.  I finished up describing how my first year went and my plans for the next year.  

The time went by quickly and I heard little or nothing from anyone during my talk.  So I was unsure what they’d say.  With a smile growing on my face, I heard one positive statement after another from the panel.  Some assumed that I had a business background because they approved of all I had done.  One panelist was a numbers person and was thrilled to see actual figures on sales and expenses.  One panelist took a Sample to show in a near-by city to the entrepreneur support group there.  A young man who had come  to watch took a card to give to someone he knew would be interested.

The most ironic part of the day came when the 3rd presenter promoting a summer camp at an unused nearby facility, bought a calendar on the spot.  She was having increasing vision trouble and this was the first weekly planner that would work for her. That had to be my favorite part of the event.