Creative Coast gearing up for FastPitch Competition

Do you have a unique business idea or a profitable business? Or maybe you’re stuck somewhere in between. If so, the Creative Coast, which is gearing up for its sixth annual FastPitch event, wants to talk to you. “FastPitch is one part of what many successful companies have to do. It’s a critical part,” said Bea Wray, executive director of Creative Coast, which gives 20 to 25 entrepreneurs a chance to present their ideas to a panel of judges and investors. The catch? You’ve only got three minutes to pitch your idea, and the Jan. 24 deadline to apply to be a presenter is approaching just as fast. The three categories to apply for are student entrepreneurs, serviced-based entrepreneurs and product-based entrepreneurs. Fields of past winners include fashion, technology and wellness/fitness. Wray said the organization hopes to break beyond the notion that the event is just for those interested in technology. If you care about Savannah and business, the event is for you, Wray said. “To me it’s like asking, ‘Why do we have a paper mill, why do we have a port?’ Because, at one point a containership was a new invention. At one point turning trees into pulp was a new invention,” Wray said of the importance of the event to the Savannah community. Event co-coordinator Jennifer Atkinson said FastPitch is a good way for people to become involved with entrepreneurship. “Savannah is becoming a hub for business owners and people who want to do startup companies,” Atkinson said. “This is a very good mechanism for them to actually pitch those ideas and get feedback from people who have been doing this a little bit longer.” Presenters are chosen from a larger pool of applicants and will take part in numerous workshops, including one that will provide the tools they need, from woodworking or 3-D printing to make a prototype of their product. They’ll also take part in one-on-one coaching sessions to ensure that presenters’ ideas are fully developed and ready for any questions and feedback from the panel. Winners of the competition not only get some cold, hard cash and exposure, they also get numerous service prizes, such as accounting or legal services to help grow their business. Past success stories from FastPitch include Laura Neece, who created the Bicycle Wrap Skirt and Savannah-based tech company Aetho. With her bike-friendly skirt, which has hidden fasteners to prevent fly-up and removable straps to keep the hem out of the bike tires, Neece garnered more than $20,000 through a KickStarter campaign and exceeded her fundraising goals by 200 percent. Aetho, which introduced Aeon, a handheld stabilizer for GoPro cameras, launched its crowd-funding campaign in September and exceeded its goal within days. Its first round of orders is expected to be ready during the first quarter of this year. Wray and Atkinson said FastPitch — along with the other entrepreneurial events sponsored by the Creative Coast — provides an inside opportunity to see local companies and startups grow in Savannah and beyond. “It’s a great opportunity to get a glimpse of people who will be leading corporations in 10 years,” Wray said. “We offer expectations. We help you take the reins of your company and when you meet your expectations, you know for yourself. Then those other things like connections, exposure and money happen, but the main thing we offer is expectations.” ON THE WEB For more information on FastPitch or to apply to present, go to www.thecreativecoast.org/programs/fastpitch Source: Savannah Morning News  
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