NEWS: Pitch Show Creates Fund to Invest in Startups
It may be the only pitch show where entrepreneurs give their pitch in an actual elevator. It may be the only pitch show where sports celebrities, like former NFL running back Rashad Jennings, do a shimmy dance to celebrate when a pitch has been accepted…and the entrepreneur(s) can now get out of the elevator to continue pitching for the investor judges.
It’s Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch and it’s wrapping up Season Two, with Season Three set to air in August. It streams on various outlets like Amazon.com; the Entrepreneur Network; YouTube Premium, a paid streaming subscription service; and Facebook Watch, a video-on-demand service that Facebook launched last year.
A fund that’s been planned from the get-go is now in the works. The target is $50 million and it will be deployed when all four judges can’t agree on investing in a particular startup, which is currently a requirement.
Season Three is when it all coalesces. Viewers have always been able to participate through crowdfunding, as reward-based crowdfunding site Indiegogo, is a partner of the show. Once each episode airs, companies that make it past the elevator get to launch 30-day Indiegogo campaigns.
A debt financing option was added in Season Two. Season Three will see the debut of the fund.
“We’re trying to be an incubator and mentoring machine with varying degrees of funding,” the show’s co-creator David Meltzer told OC Startups Now.
The show was co-created by Meltzer, the co-founder and CEO of Sports 1 Marketing and an author, along with Jonathan Bogner, an executive producer with All3Media America. (“Undercover Boss” is its flagship show.)
Sports 1 Marketing is a global marketing agency, with HQ in Irvine, leveraging more than $20 billion in relationship capital. It was co-founded by double Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon (HOF in U.S. and Canada) and Meltzer.
Executive producers are Meltzer, Bogner and Bill Shaw, president of Entrepreneur Media, with HQ in NYC.
Season One saw 92 companies presenting. One-third of those were funded – for more than $2 million collectively. One-third of the funded companies are based in SoCal.
One of those is here in OC – Hang-O-Matic, with HQ in Lake Forest, received $100,000.
This company was founded in 2014 by the husband-and-wife team of Jared (CEO) and Karina Rabin (Creative Director).
Hang-O-Matic manufactures a picture hanging tool that measures, levels and marks the wall – all at the same time. It address the pain point that comes with moving and having to hang and rehang photos and artwork.
Investor judges that said Yes to this company were Meltzer; Dawn LaFreeda, a former Denny’s waitress who became the largest single-owner franchisee in the Denny’s system; Jeff Klinefelter, longtime director of equity research at investment bank Piper Jaffray, with HQ in Minneapolis; and Peter Goldberg, the founder of PLG Ventures with HQ in Santa Monica. All invested $25,000. (All four judges must agree on a deal and all four invest equal amounts.)
The company is currently valued at $3 million, Karina Rabin said. Sales are strong, she added, noting that the company surpassed a million dollars in sales in February.
The exit strategy is to license or sell Hang-O-Matic.
Previously, the founders launched and sold Happy Chuppah, a small wedding rental business, for $50,000.
Prominent customers include Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hobby Lobby and the Container Store.
The company plans to release its second product, a stud, later this year. This will be a 25-foot tape measure that will measure, level, mark and find the stud.
Appearing on, and receiving investment from, Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, served as a catalyst for the couple to create their own YouTube channel, which they call “The One Pitch.”
“We wanted to inspire and help other entrepreneurs and we share our journey by posting weekly videos,” Karina Rabin said. “In addition, we also do podcasts and promote other products on our channel.”
Meltzer said he was motivated to invest in Hang-O-Matic, as well as another SoCal company, Rally Flip Cap, because of the people involved in these entities.
They are run by “superior entrepreneurs,” Meltzer said.
“Not only great people, but great products that fit within the verticals (I’m) an expert in,” he told OC Startups Now.
Rally Flip Cap, a division of Cisco Sales, also pitched in Season One. This startup, which did a soft launch in 2014, provides promotional items and manufacturing services to businesses. The founders are brothers Jordan and Ian Kay. Their father, Neil Kay, founded Cisco Sales in Torrance in 1977.
Rally Flip Cap got an offer of $50,000 for a 20% equity stake
from the show’s investor judges. It ultimately chose not to take this or any other investment offer, Jordan Kay said.
“In order to grow, we need mass distribution, along with a strategic partnership, not capital,” he told OC Startups Now. “We have been bootstrapping since 2013 and what we really needed was relationship capital to get us to the next level.”
The company got that relationship capital in the form of Meltzer and Moon joining Rally Flip Cap’s board of advisors.
Rally Flip Cap is open to receiving an investment in the future, he said.
And, viewers, through Indiegogo, raised close to $400 for the company.
How It Works
OCTANe, a tech and life sciences accelerator in Aliso Viejo, is one of several entities that helps select and vet the companies to pitch. So, when a tech or med-tech company is cast, OCTANe does the first round of due diligence.
Entrepreneurs give a 60-second pitch about their idea, product or business as they ride up to “the boardroom” in an elevator. If the elevator doors open, that means their pitch has passed the first test and they now enter the boardroom with investors, acting as judges, evaluating their pitches.
Entrepreneurs can ask for as much funding as possible; negotiations are expected. The investors then have five minutes to make a decision on whether to fund.
The judges invest their own money. Meltzer is the main investor-judge.
Future of EEP
Season Three begins filming on August 6. Beyond that, the show has been extended for three additional seasons by its sponsors, Meltzer said. Sprint Business is the title sponsor.
And, the producers are in negotiations with mainstream TV networks for potential airing down the line, he added.