May 31, 2012
Early-stage financing is an essential part of helping entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas. That’s why IdahoTechConnect, a non-profit that focuses on the development and commercialization of technology, created a business pitch competition called TechLaunch. This annual competition teaches entrepreneurs how to pitch their ideas to investors and, since 2004, has helped 62 companies raise more than $33 million in funding.
TechLaunch showcased several interesting startup ideas this year, which ranged from mobile applications to mechanical prototypes. One noticeable startup was MinePerformance, Inc., with their HIRB prototype, which removes unwanted slack in ropes that control electric mining shovels. This process reduces cycle time and leads to increased efficiency and operator safety.
Startups also faced off in a competition for the grand prize of $11,000. This year’s winner, Citius Composites, LLC, pitched their idea of creating an advanced prosthetic for above the knee (AK) amputees. There were several things Citius Composites did to close the deal and be crowned the winner of TechLaunch:
1. Differentiate their product. Citius Composites emphasized how their product was specifically intended for AK amputees with a passion for outdoor sports, a niche that wasn’t effectively addressed through other prosthetics.
2. Present a solid market for growth. Citius Composites was prepared with specific data that showcased their company’s potential for growth. They highlighted the 1.6 million amputees in the United States and discussed how investors would benefit from new products created through a joint venture between Citius Composites and SymBiotechs USA.
3. Create a compelling story. Citius Composites created strong emotional appeal by discussing how their product solves an important problem – helping amputees live life to its fullest despite having a physical disability. The company used Jarem Frye, the founder of SymBiotechs USA, as a case study. Frye was the world’s first AK amputee telemark skier, a competitive AK wakeboarder, a pro rock climber, and the winner of the first ever eXtremity Games rock climbing championship.
4. Help investors realize the vision of the company. Citius Composites explained that Frye’s accomplishments were only made possible through the development of a prosthetic specifically designed for amputees with a passion for outdoor sports. By showcasing the difference an advanced prosthetic could make in the lives of amputees, Citius Composites created a powerful narrative that helped investors realize the vision of the company: to empower amputees and help them achieve what was previously considered impossible.
Guest author Malcolm Hong is a writer and tech advocate with a passion for innovation. He’s connected to entrepreneurism and technology through his work managing the activities of the Idaho Technology Council, the state’s largest member-driven association that fosters the growth of Idaho’s tech ecosystem. Originally from Hawaii, Malcolm quickly realized that Idaho does a great job of growing startups, not just potatoes. Follow Malcolm on Twitter: @IDTechCouncil.
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