‘Road Pitch’ Rolls Up to Randolph Ctr.

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Front Page / Aug. 10, 2017 11:32am EDT

Vermont Tech Hosts Business Bikers
By Dylan Kelley


Governor Phil Scott prepares to roll out as part of FreshTracks Capital’s “Road Pitch” event at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) Governor Phil Scott prepares to roll out as part of FreshTracks Capital’s “Road Pitch” event at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) Dozens of motorcycles rumbled through the Randolph Center campus of Vermont Technical College on Thursday morning as part of the third annual FreshTracks Road Pitch, a weeklong ride throughout the state to promote small business and entrepreneurship.

Comprising investors, business advisors, entrepreneurs, and even Governor Phil Scott (see other article), the business-minded bikers gathered on the hilltop campus to listen, provide feedback, and maybe invest some capital in five business pitches from Vermont entrepreneurs.

“This is an opportunity to really test their concept and get really good feedback,” said Vermont Small Business Development Center Director Linda Rossi after several of the presentations. “And then they meet resources and other individuals around the state that they can look to help them further their plans going forward,” she said.


Gwen Pokalo of the Center for Women & Enterprise listens enthusiastically to the evolving discussion at the VTSBC “Road Pitch” at VTC on Thursday. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) Gwen Pokalo of the Center for Women & Enterprise listens enthusiastically to the evolving discussion at the VTSBC “Road Pitch” at VTC on Thursday. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) Among those making big plans for the future were a number of students and young people who had recently attended the Governor’s Institute of Vermont Entrepreneurship Program, such as Osiah Dorman of Montpelier who pitched a retail start-up called “Chit Stop” that would sell board games “with the mission of giving kids a safe place to hang out” at the center of its operation.

Dorman’s idea came about when he observed a similar store in Austin, Texas. Realizing that Montpelier area youth could benefit from such an establishment, Dorman set out on a three-year odyssey to develop his idea and build a business plan. “It’s been a lot of learning,” said Dorman excitedly after his presentation to the investors. “But, I’m finally at a place where I can come to events like this and be able to talk in detail about what I’m trying to do.”

Other young entrepreneurs who made their pitch included Brayden Moore, who pitched Vermont Box, a subscription food and gift box promoting Vermont-made foods; and Zavier Henderson who presented his idea for Vitrocosm, which he described as an “open-source hub for all things living.”

“It’s an innovative mindset,” said Rossi as she reflected on the variety of presentations from the young Vermonters, describing how the group of millennials were creatively solving problems large and small. “Their youth just brings a different perspective to it,” she said.

Break-Through Moments

As eager as the investors and business advisors were to get back on the road following the presentations, the Shark Tank-style event wouldn’t be complete without picking the recipient of the Riders’ Choice Award for best pitch of the day.

Previously winning pitches have included eco-friendly water bottle filling stations and a variety of smartphone applications for everything from product recommendations to digital payment systems, but the winner of Thursday’s session at VTC was Edgeworks Creative’s pitch for a suite of “end-toend eLearning tools” for corporate trainings.

“It was a tough competition!” exclaimed Gwen Pokalo of the Center for Women & Enterprise, who observed each of the presentations. “The pitches all had terrific substance and were viable businesses,” she said.

“These entrepreneurs have been working so hard [behind the scenes],” said Pokalo, who remains amazed at how much is actually riding on just a few minutes of presentation to key investors.

“Seven minutes … is nothing compared to the time and energy they’ve put into these pitches,” said Pokalo as she reflected on how events like the Road Pitch could ultimately be remembered as a pivotal moment in the life of a startup. “This a whole—we’ll say ‘we knew them when’—kind of thing,” she said. “It’s exciting to see where these people are going to go in the next three, five, or 10 years.”

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