Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pitch season births CLT startup competition with $250K offering

Jeff Brokaw
The season doth approach for startup kickoffs, pitches and competitions.

The late winter/early spring brings a flurry of opportunities for promising startups to secure funding and make nice with eager venture capitalists looking to invest.

We've already told you about new developments with the Charlotte Venture Challenge & Southeast Venture Conference in March. Well, there's another one you might consider.

Next month, Startup Grind Charlotte, the local chapter of the global startup organization of the same name, will host a contest offering entrepreneurs the chance to pitch to the partners of SierraMaya360, an early-stage investment firm looking to connect promising startups with top-tier investors in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

You may remember our past coverage of SierraMaya360, a re-brand of a venture capitalist firm started by local entrepreneur Amish Shah and his partner, tech pioneer Eric Kagan. They've now added Silicon Valley's Glen Howard and Tony Potts, formerly of Access Hollywood, to the roster.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 10, they'll converge at Enventys, 520 Elliot St., where the PBS TV show "Everyday Edisons" is filmed.

As part of the competition, th
ey're offering $250,000 in funding and four hours of advisory services from Shah himself. Those services are typically worth $5,000, said Jeff Brokaw, director of Startup Grind Charlotte.

Brokaw, 31, started his first web venture at age 14. He is the pioneer behind AppVested, a platform for connecting investors with carefully-vetted entrepreneurs launching mobile applications.

Before the contest begins, Shah and Brokaw will share with attendees stories of successful startups and how they overcame their biggest challenges. They'll take questions, too, Brokaw said.

"You can't do it by yourself," Brokaw said. "I tried building companies by myself. You have to surround yourself with people who know more than you do."

It is a competition, so there are stipulations:
  • Pitching teams or individuals will be entered into a two-round elimination. 
  • The first round will be a 60-second pitch. 
  • The field will be narrowed down to the top five teams or individuals who will then have an extra two to three minutes to expand their initial pitch.
  • During the second round, participants can use videos, props, or gadgets for their pitch.
  • After that, there's a five-minute Q&A session with the judging panel and audience, and a winner will be announced.
  •  The winner will then have the opportunity to pitch to SierraMaya360. If the company likes the idea, the winner could earn $250,000 in funding.
  • One prize guaranteed for the winner are four hours of advisory time with Shah, Kagan, Howard, Potts and others who can help their business.
Interested in competing? Email Brokaw with your pitch, company and contact information at The deadline for entries is 8 p.m. Feb. 8. Just want to go? RSVP and purchase tickets at Startup Grind Charlotte's Meetup page.


Deevo T said...

Hi Jeff - this is great you need to teach me how to get this sort of publicity.