A crowd of 60 people packed the Corvallis Sports Park on Tuesday night to participate in a game-show- like entrepreneurial competition.
Eight innovators, the “shark bait,” pitched their ideas for five minutes each, then received feedback from three “sharks”: Mark Lieberman and John Turner of the OSU Advantage Accelerator and David Schroeder of Reliance CM.
At stake for the winner was two months worth of participation in the OSU Advantage Accelerator, a recently formed program to help startups start up.
Ultimately, two winners were declared and two more entrepreneurs earned runner-up status.
Oil Ex Tech, a company that is working to extract essential oils using microwaves, and Cart and Tools, a high-tech manufacturer of battery-operated tools for small-market farmers, tied for the top spot.
“We’re excited to get a chance with the accelerator,” said Brad Attig, sales and marketing manager for Cart and Tools. “They are a tremendous resource, so good for our global economy and local entrepreneurial spirit. We’re looking forward to learning from them.”
“We know how to make products,” said Bill Dean, managing director of Oil Ex Tech. “What we are really looking for is work with mentors at the accelerator on developing our business structure.”
Dean also noted the “hallway alchemy” that can ensue when you are working with other innovators.
EarthBarrels, a company led by Carl Palmer that uses recycled plastic barrels to promote local food possibilities, was one of the runners-up and will receive one free hour of accelerator consulting.
Dual Purpose Light, a concept for lighted wheelchairs and bicycle helmets promoted by Douglas Russel, was the second runner-up and will receive an hour of consulting from Schroeder.
Other projects pitched were:
• Unlike.com, a different take on match-making from Jeff Brandt;
• MYMX, a plan for personalized marijuana treatments from T.D. Morris;
• 911TM, an app that would make it easier to deal with emergencies, from Doug Fox; and
• Art Project, an app that would aid in the understanding and appreciation of art, from Kerrie Wrye.
“Everybody’s a winner who participated,” Lieberman said. “Anyone who has the gumption to stand up in front of these sharks is a winner.”
“You’ve got to give honest feedback and don’t flinch when you give it,” Turner said about his shark approach.
“Hopefully you can provide some good advice and help them move ahead with their businesses.”
Key questions sharks asked included 1) Who are you going to sell your product to? 2) How much are you going to charge for it? 3) How are you going to market and distribute it?
To their credit, many of those pitching ideas said “I don’t know” or “that’s a good question” when they were stumped.