HERALD-CITIZEN: Assisting entrepreneurs with ‘pitching the idea’

By: LAURA MILITANA

Pitching any idea to investors can be a traumatizing event. That’s where The Biz Foundry comes in to help.

Recently, a few entrepreneurs came to the Biz Foundry to receive assistance in pitching their ideas to investors.

“Investors invest in passion and people,” Jeff Brown, director of the Biz Foundry, said. “Show them your product works.”

Allen Conger, along with TTU Chemical Engineering faculty members Holly Stretz and Jeff Thompson, recently presented their business, Promethia labs, LLC, to some of the board members of The Biz Foundry to receive input on how to improve the presentation. Stretz was not present at the meeting.

Conger, the CEO, presented his information first over the phone, complete with a PowerPoint presentation. His presentation involved sharing numbers, such as financial projections, revenue , and income statements, along with a lot of the technological terms describing the products they have partially patented and are pitching.

“There are too many technological terms,” board member and investor Ravi Venkataraman said. “Keep it simple. I know it’s a medical lab product, but other than that, I don’t know what you’re pitching.”

Matt Campagni, fellow mentor, said there’s almost too much information in that presentation.

Following that input, Thompson gave his presentation.

“A number of illnesses can be detected early in advance with (detecting) these proteins,” he said. “Our product offers a higher quality sample. It saves time by finding out in 45 minutes whether or not the sample is a quality sample. There is so much that can be saved here – manpower, space to store the samples, money.”

With his presentation, the product clicked with the investors present.

“That right there is the pitch,” Brown said. “Do you know how to make this product work? Once you establish that, you’ve got them.”

Input and feedback on improving the presentation were given by those present.

One idea is to include more photos in the slide show presentation. Another was to leave out financials.

“That can be discussed in later meetings,” Venkataraman said.

Brown suggested limiting presentations to eight minutes max.

“We can help you hone it until it’s right,” he said.

The Biz Foundry, located on 7th Street, is the business accelerator program of the Upper Cumberland Entrepreneurial Foundation, one of nine in the state partnered with the Governor’s LaunchTN program. They help build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Upper Cumberland region.

This accelerator is described as a short-term, intensive boot camp, helping founders and innovators through the earliest steps of building a solid business model and proving the viability of their product or service.

It is managed by the Upper Cumberland Entrepreneurial Foundation, a non-profit 501©(3) entity, and includes 14 counties in the Upper Cumberland region – Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren and White counties. They work to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Upper Cumberland to enhance the economies and spur job growth.