Last night was Catapult Lakeland’s Pitch Night, during which three hopeful entrepreneurial ventures pitched their businesses to local investors. Each business aspiring for a $10,000 micro-grant as part of the “Launch” program, the room was rich with an engrossed audience of wide-eyed entrepreneurs, Catapult members, past grant recipients, and the curious general public.
“Elevating the humble grilled cheese,” this carb-tastic duo told their story to the judges while mixing and kneading dough on the side for dramatic effect. What came from a need for bread and brotherhood quickly grew into a science and then a business.
Cheeses & Crust explained their successes selling at the Downtown Farmers Market and various other local events, elucidating on the grilled cheese experience from their scratch-made bread to various cheeses. They made mouths water at the mention of their most popular sandwich, the Basic White Grill, made with white bread encrusted with parmesan cheese and overflowing with American cheesy goodness.
After a round of questions and answers that followed every pitch, Cheeses & Crust broke bread with their potential investors by passing around rolls for each to taste.
The next to take the stage was another frequent of the Farmers Market. Boondock Studios, the creative brainchild of duo Daniel and Stacy Tabb, grew out of Stacy’s knitting and crafting abilities and Dan’s need to occupy his hands after an extended stay in the VA hospital. Dan’s father had taught him leatherwork as a child, and he used this skill to maintain flexibility in his hands. After teaching his wife Stacy how to utilize leather tools, the couple realized they had a business on their dexterous appendages.
Boondock’s work really took off at the Farmers Market, and repeat customers showed their appreciation by recommending their leatherwares to other Lakelanders. They started visiting trade shows and quickly realized they were unique in their leathercraft, and that other people recognized this as well.
Since applying for the grant, Boondock Studios has acquired their own space at 811 N. Florida Ave.
After a brief interlude including various hides and leather goods, the third pitchers took the stage. The father and son duo of Reeves Lawn Care confidently started their pitch, selling their revolutionary lawn care machine with pride only exuded by a son relaying his father’s accomplishments.
The Reeves Lawn Care “chariot” combines all lawn maintenance features into one convenient vehicle. From line trimming to edging and hedge trimming, the machine is fast, easy to control, and helps provide professional services for minimal effort. In a short clip played by the pitchers, spectators watched as the chariot spun around a yard, clipping and hedging away, booking it full-speed ahead of a walking counterpart.
This tool dramatically reduces the time and effort needed to cut lawns, and Reeves identifies their target audience as large-scale lawns like those around Lake Hollingsworth and amusement parks.
Needless to say, the pitches were all extremely impressive.
The judges reconvened after forming their opinions and ranking the pitchers based on a list of factors. With an audience gleaming on the edges of their seats, they reached a decision to award all three entrepreneurs grants circa $10,000.
And that, my friends, is just the start.
Feel like you have a great business idea? Want to start an entrepreneurial endeavor? Check out Catapult’s site for an application for the next Pitch Night!