Posted on April 19, 2012
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on April 20, 2012.
By David Showers
In the digital age of cell phone apps, social media, texting and video sharing, attention spans are dwindling, making a succinct message of the utmost importance.
That was the premise for ?Gone in 60 Seconds? Thursday night, an elevator pitch competition where 17 presenters distilled their business plans into 60-second spiels they hoped would garner $1,000 for their fledgling enterprises. The event was held at the Rialto Theater.
The idea behind the event was the presentation of a business concept to a potential investor whom an entrepreneur would happen on during an elevator ride – hence the name "elevator pitch.?
Sponsored by Entrepreneurship Task Force, the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Women?s Business Center, Winrock International, South Arkansas Community College and the Rialto, prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 were awarded to the three presentations that collected the most yes votes via text message.
The moment almost overwhelmed Tim Mosier of Hope, but he summoned enough poise to coax 26 yes votes from the crowd and collect the $500 second prize.
"I practiced for three or four good days and got up here and went blank,? said Mosier, who pitched his Ladder Safety Magnet, LSM for short, that secures ladders to structures. "I?m really surprised I won anything.?
The LSM was the only winner that didn?t have a digital application. Sean Griffin, with his start-up venture, Haptic Unlimited, took first prize with 36 yes votes. He was pitching his Bluetooth-handheld keyboard and mouse, called the Firebrand, that he claimed can making typing one-and-a-half times faster.
He showed the crowd the plastic prototype that will allow texting to replace typing on computers that accept a Bluetooth keyboard. Griffin won a similar competition earlier in the week in his home town of Ruston, La., where he took the $4,000 first prize in Louisiana Tech?s Top Dog Entrepreneurial Championship.
"It was just an aha! moment,? Griffins said of the inspiration behind the texting keyboard.
Luke Irvin?s people-discovery app, called Be Involvd (sic), got 25 yes votes to take third place. Its premise is to connect businesses with people who possess specialized skill sets.
"A business will need something eventually,? said Irvin, whose pitch seemed the most measured and rehearsed. "They may not know there are people in their community that do those things. It?s a way for them to find those people, or for the people to go out and find the business that suits them. The bottom line is people need to do what they love.?
The other pitches ran the gamut from a woman doing a send up of Carmen Miranda to promote her fruit company to another with an idea to embellish Crockpots with metal jackets that promote aesthetics and prevent spills during transport."