Local “Shark Tank”-style pitch meeting held by small business owners

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WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Three people were given the opportunity to engage in a “Shark Tank”-style event for the chance to win prizes on Friday.

“Pitch Night 2021” is the creation of two small business owners — Crystel Smith and Alex Skinner — who sought to encourage young business-minded people, especially after all the hardship of the pandemic.

“Pitch Night was my opportunity to give them the opportunity to be surrounded by people that believed in them, to create a little belief in themselves, be surrounded with business experts to offer that business advice, right? And to give them resources for gaining capital for growing their businesses,” said Smith.

Even before the event started, the finalists were coached by Skinner, the owner of InnoVault in Winchester, where Pitch Night 2021 took place.

“He gave some really good tips about how to pitch in general. And, specifically, how to condense a lot of information into 10 minutes,” said Dustyn Vallies, a finalist who pitched “LocalFood Network“, a company that focuses on connecting farmers with truck drivers and crowdsourcing local food shipment.

Prizes for finalists included $1,000 to help grow their business, one to two months of personal coaching from Smith, a copy of Smith’s book “Business 101”, and multiple months of use of the InnoVault space. Only three finalists were chosen from a pool of people who applied to participate.

“I was really excited — and actually surprised — that I was selected, just because I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Paulius Mui, a finalist, and co-founder of “table rounds“, a game of word association that focuses on building people’s understanding of medical terminology. “And so my team and I decided to apply, and then we heard back that I could do the pitch.”

In the end, Kelly Botta won the event for her business “SMARTYPANTS MEDICINE“, which was created to change medical primary care — for people with or without health insurance — to make it more affordable and accessible.

“I’m very surprised. I’m really relieved. I was very nervous. It’s a really different and new idea, so I was excited but nervous. So I’m happy I went for it and I’m super grateful,” said Botta.

And the pitch nights are not over yet. Smith has already planned Pitch Night part two, set for May 28, 2021. And the prizes, according to Smith, will remain the same.

“This is your opportunity to come pitch your idea to a panel of experts, to a community of people that believe in you, and investors that are looking to invest,” said Smith.

For more information on LocalFood Network, visit here.

For more information on table rounds, visit here.

For more information on SMARTYPANTSMEDICINE, visit here.

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