Ian McIver stepped out on the Center Theater stage last August and told as much about his new business, JobApplix, as he could squeeze into less than 10 minutes.
It was Pitch Day, and JobApplix was one of six startups to give quick presentations to a judges panel and general audience.
McIver didn’t go home with any of the prizes that day, but he kept going with his venture, a web-based hiring tool for businesses.
“It kind of makes your company real once you’ve done something like that,” McIver said of Pitch Day. “You’re a step closer to reality, which for us was a big deal.”
This week, as Silicon Couloir begins taking applications for Pitch Day 2019 (see page 12C), JobApplix has moved out of the beta phase to a full launch (see box). Pitch Day challenged McIver to present a software tool in an eye-catching way.
“Overall it was a positive experience, and it’s something I would recommend for any entrepreneur who is at the right stage of development,” he said.
Pitch Day is the signature event of Silicon Couloir, a nonprofit that fosters entrepreneurship in the region through a mentoring program, the Start Up Intensive course, an angel funding group, the Cowork Space and networking events.
You can think of Pitch Day as a local version of the TV reality show “Shark Tank.” Startup founders have eight minutes to give a spiel about their business or idea, their goal being to win cash prizes and connect with potential investors, advisors and customers.
Before their time onstage the entrepreneurs receive three coaching sessions with business experts to polish their delivery and boil their information down to the most important and interesting points.
“You have to come up with a thrifty way to tell your story,” McIver said.
Pitch Day 2019, the eighth, is scheduled for Sept. 5, a month later than usual.
“As you know, summer is an extremely busy time here in Jackson, and we felt like we wanted to keep the event fresh,” Silicon Couloir Executive Director Gary Trauner told the News&Guide in an email. “Part of that was to move the date out of the core summer season to see if we could avoid conflicts with other events, and it worked better.
“We are still a relatively young organization and are open to trying new things to improve on our programs and offerings.”
Last year’s Pitch Day gave $5,000 for the Panelists Choice Award, $2,500 for Audience Choice and a mentoring opportunity for the Bob Arndt Caretaker Award. Silicon Couloir hasn’t disclosed the award amounts for this year.
“There are cash prizes, so it’s worth it, for sure, not to mention the exposure,” board member Alex Muromcew said at Monday’s Chance Meeting, a monthly Silicon Couloir event.
McIver met a potential customer at Pitch Day. Now he is looking to raise $1.5 million to scale up the business. Those minutes onstage have proved valuable training as he pitches to prospective investors.
Pitch Day “is not about winning,” McIver said. “If you don’t walk out with a prize you walk away with experience.”