On Thursday, April 16th, local entrepreneurs pitched their companies head to head at Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater, vying for the audience’s vote in the Tom Tom Founders Festival’s unique Crowdfunded Pitch Night. Each company delivered a three-minute description of their business concept and their vision for growth.
Ultimately, the crowd placed the most votes for Carolyn Schuyler and her company Wildrock, which will now either receive the crowdfunded prize of $5000 or a spot in U.Va.’s selective W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab business incubator, which comes with a $5,000 expense budget and high impact support from Darden’s faculty and alumni.
Bill Hess and Wes Carter of Evolution Glass won an additional award from the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), a Charlottesville-based program designed to help entrepreneurs from low-income and underserved communities start or expand their businesses.
(Photography credits to Brian Mitchell and Sarah Dodge.)
Thursday night at the Tom Tom Founders Festival features presentation of the “Innovator of the Year Award” followed by Crowdfunded Pitch Night, an event sponsored by the Batten Institute at U.Va.’s Darden School of Business.
Festival attendees pours into downtown Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater to listen to the various companies pitch and cast their votes.
Stephanie Murray pitches her family-owned business Ula Tortilla, which produces and sells fresh, organic, non-GMO corn tortillas, using just 3 ingredients.
Carolyn Schuyler describes her vision for Wildrock, twenty-eight acres of pastureland and forest transformed into a beautiful, natural public getaway for children and families looking to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Bill Hess and Wes Carter of Evolution Glass create innovative, beautiful countertops using 100% recycled glass bottles.
A Darden alum, Kwame Ulmer pitches STEM Start, a marketplace that enables middle school students to work on real STEM problems at science and technology firms.
Gabe Silver shares Rising River Outfitters, an idea for a dedicated outdoor adventure hub in Charlottesville providing rental river equipment, mountain bikes, and fly fishing gear.
Lisa Skillman and her team try to sell the crowd on Local Nanny Network, a company offering premier on-site childcare at wedding venues, fundraisers, and other events in the Charlottesville area.
Lee Elberson pitches a web-based education platform called Prepopotamus, which is designed to optimize a student’s learning and test preparation experience. (Partners Brett Hutchinson and Clay Daniel not pictured.)
Todd Mosley and his company, TJ’s Event Management, aims to provide a seamless fine-dining experience for hosts of dinner parties.
U.Va. undergraduate student Pedram Pejman sells the audience on Smart Mace, a concept for a technologically advanced pepper spray with novel features to increase the safety of the user.
The audience casts votes for their favorite companies at the front of the Jefferson Theater stage.
Paul Beyer, Director of the Tom Tom Founders Festival, congratulates all contestants on their engaging pitches.
The audience waits in anticipation for the winners to be announced.
Evolution Glass wins an award from Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), a Charlottesville-based program designed to help entrepreneurs from low-income and underserved communities start or expand their businesses.
Carolyn Schuyler wins the audience’s vote and now will choose between the crowdfunded prize of $5000 or a spot in U.Va.’s I.Lab business incubator.