Many people hate speaking in public, but Tana Hoffman is actually looking forward to standing in the limelight with a microphone.
She will give a brief presentation Thursday in the Center for the Arts theater about her young business, Mountainist, for Silicon Couloir’s eighth annual Pitch Day. She and representatives from five other companies (see sidebar) will be speaking to judges and a general audience and competing for three prizes.
“I am really excited,” Hoffman said. “I haven’t done anything quite like this before. I think this can be a great opportunity to tell the community about what we’re doing.”
Pitch Day prizes are bigger than ever this go-around.
A $7,500 cash prize will go the winner of the Panelist Choice Award, a “most likely to succeed” honor that’s decided by the judges. Last year it was $5,000.
Enhancing the prizes is a way of letting the entrepreneurs know that what they’re doing is important, said Silicon Couloir Executive Director Gary Trauner.
“We wanted to honor the participants more,” he said.
The cash that comes with the Audience Choice Award is still $2,500, but this time the winner will also receive six months of free use of The CoWork Space.
In another change, the Bob Arndt Community Caretaker Award, named for the late Jackson Hole businessman, brings a $1,000 cash award on top of the opportunity to be mentored through Silicon Couloir’s TEAMS program.
“We want to highlight the fact that we at Silicon Couloir are all about community caretaking and giving back,” Trauner said. “It’s not just about being successful in your company.”
Hoffman was one of 13 entrepreneurs — the strongest pool of applicants in Pitch Day history, according to Silicon Couloir — who applied for the 2019 event. The competitors include tech companies, a bike-centric business, a snowboard maker and a social-impact water bottle company.
Mountainist rents women’s snowmobile and MX/off-road gear like helmets, boots, chest protectors and goggles. The Alpine company started with regional rentals, expanded nationwide this year and launched a Mountainist TV program. The first episode is: “How to Clean Your Dirt Bike Goggles (And Keep Them Looking New).”
In the spring Hoffman will add fly-fishing and mountain biking items to the company’s rental inventory.
Participating in Pitch Day will get Mountainist’s name out more in the community, including to potential investors, Hoffman said, and “start some conversations with people who could promote our mission to get more women off the sidelines.”
With Jackson as an “epicenter of the outdoor industry,” she said, “I think there are a lot of influential women here who could spread the word about our company.”
Pitch Day participants are coached before their moment onstage, and that’s been helpful, Hoffman said.
“I’m learning storytelling from a completely different perspective,” she said. “Speaking about the business is different than speaking to my customers. I think that’s been the most valuable lesson.”