Pitch Day

Irene Griswold-Prenner talks about her company, Nitrome Biosciences, during 2018’s Pitch Day. Pitch Day 2020 will be held Sept. 30 as a virtual event.

Five entrepreneurs, five judges, a whole bunch of spectators and $17,500 in cash awards plus opportunities for mentoring and use of co-working space.

That sums up Silicon Couloir’s ninth annual Pitch Day, an event at which five Wydaho startups will present their businesses and vie for awards from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Sept. 30.

This year’s prize money is the most to be offered in Pitch Day’s history, said Silicon Couloir, a nonprofit that fosters entrepreneurship in the region with education, mentoring, networking and more.

The judges will decide who gets most of the cash, but the audience will also have a chance to vote for their favorites.(To register for Pitch Day and get the livestream link, go to SiliconCouloir.com/pitch-day.)

Pitch Day 2020 has been organized pandemic style. Though the judges will be with the contestants, the people in the audience will watch the pitching online.

To prep for the competition the entrepreneurs have been coached on their presentations and business models. This year’s Pitch Day will include a new video component to show spectators a bit of the coaching process and how pitches evolve.

“The virtual format will allow us to reach a wider audience and do some creative things while still giving the finalists the experience of pitching to an expert panel in person,” Silicon Couloir Executive Director Gary Trauner said in a press release.

The five contestants, selected from a group of 11 applicants, are Nikki Beck of Nidiyo, Monica Grohne of Marea, Caitlin Iseler of Happyly, David Lymburn of Go Green Home Supply and Heather Smith of Juliet.

The judges on the panel are Jeff Rice, owner of Jackson Whole Grocer and co-founder of OneWest.net; Nada Jain, founder and managing director at RIDEfor8 Ventures LLC; Karen Kemmerer, a former vice president at AT&T and Lucent Technologies; Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes; and Tom Quantrille, former president of Capital Group Asia Pacific Region.

The event is supported by the Wyoming Business Council, Pirate Ship and First Republic Bank.

Pitch Day will wrap up with the presentation of three awards.

– The Panelist Choice Award: A $10,000 prize goes to the company the judges believe has the most compelling business idea, the best chance for business success, the highest likelihood of getting funded and the strongest presentation.

– The Audience Choice Award: A $5,000 prize plus one year of free use of The Cowork Space on East Broadway will go to the company that wows the audience. Voting instructions will be given during the livestream.

– The Bob Arndt Community Caretaker Award: The prize includes $2,500, six months of free use of The Cowork Space and an invitation to join Silicon Couloir’s mentoring program, TEAMS (Teton Entrepreneurs and Mentors Service). The award goes to the contestant that best embodies the core values and mission of Silicon Couloir “to align entrepreneurship with community vision to promote a diverse economy and healthy environment for current and future generations.”

The TEAMS opportunity proved valuable to Powwater, the company that won the caretaker award in 2019 as well as Panelist Choice Award.

“Winning Pitch Day was the catalyst we needed at the right time, just a month after launching our drinkware line,” Powwater co-founder Jack Hartpence told the News&Guide.

“Perhaps what was most powerful, though, was the TEAMS program, which we were awarded through the Bob Arndt Community Caretaker Award. Our TEAMS mentors continue to be close advisors and instrumental for our business.”

Silicon Couloir’s Sept. 14 Chance Meeting gave a sneak peak of Pitch Day. Go to TinyURL.com/y2v6fs6g to view it.

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jennifer@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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