(Photo by Randy M. Cauthron)
"And away we go."
Leann Jacobsen, president of the Technology Association of Iowa, is enthusiastic about the upcoming "Pitch & Grow" event coming to Spencer Aug. 6.
The day-long business development program, hosted at various locations in Gary's on the River, will offer area start-ups an opportunity to interface with industry professionals from around the state.
"TAI is excited to bring the Pitch & Grow event to northwest Iowa," Jacobsen, who lives in Spencer, said. "Pitch & Grow events provide an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and business experts to come together in a relaxed, supportive and open atmosphere."
Pitch & Grow IX -- Iowa Great Lakes event will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"Over the past two years we've presented eight such events in eastern and central Iowa. This is our first expansion into the northwestern part of the state," Jacobsen said. "We should see 75-ish people attend. It will be held in the future home of StartupCity Spencer."
Jacobsen, and husband, Dave, are overseeing the remodel of the lower level of Gary's on the River, in preparation for the establishment of StartupCity Spencer, a technology-based, entrepreneurial incubator. The center will provide opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to start business projects, with assistance from mentors across the state, at a minimal cost.
She said both TAI and StartupCity Spencer share the same goals with regards to business development in the region.
"We are not quite wrapped up with our fundraising effort for StartupCity Spencer. In the meantime, what's really important is to begin organizing the community. This is really our first effort to grow the community," Jacobsen said, noting the location selection for the Pitch & Grow was not an accident.
She added, "Anytime we have an opportunity to bring entrepreneurs to the area, we want to spread awareness."
At the event 16 entrepreneurs will each pitch their business to a "think tank" of expert panelists including seasoned CEOs, technologists, business development experts and business-savvy people. In return, they have a unique opportunity to receive constructive feedback on areas such as fundraising, value proposition, business plan, management team, sales/marketing/support and building strategy.
After the companies present, the expert panelists will select the top four pitches. Those four selected presenters will then make their pitches to a general session, after which the audience votes by investing "TAI Bucks" in their favorite prospect(s).
Companies at virtually any stage of the business life cycle are invited to present.
To date, Jacobsen said more than 100 companies have presented at previous Pitch & Grow opportunities.
"It's a place where they can refine their pitches with little or no risk," she explained.
"The networking that takes place is phenomenal. It provides such a rich networking experience. We're bringing not only experts from a local talent pool but statewide. The connections that take place and the idea sharing is really exciting," Jacobsen said. "We see this as a stepping stone for so many companies. It is so rich in opportunity."
The event is open to the public and includes a lunch presentation on entrepreneurialism. Registration is $15 and free for students. Space is limited. To register, please visit www.technologyiowa.org.
Those interested in contributing to the technology incubator, which will be based in Spencer, may contact Leann Jacobsen at email@example.com.
For business start-ups, seeking a space at StartupCity Spencer, apply online at www.startupcityspencer.com.