• William Moore, Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Road Pitch 2018: Entrepreneurs, Start Your Engines

August’s arrival can mean only one thing — it’s time for the Central Vermont Road Pitch.

The Central Vermont Road Pitch is the final stop on the annual FreshTracks Road Pitch’s trip across the Green Mountain state in search of “the best and the brightest” that entrepreneurs have to offer.

This year marks the fifth consecutive FreshTracks Road Pitch, which sends “business bikers” on a four day road trip across Vermont in search of entrepreneurs and investment opportunities. Begun in 2014 by Carin G. Cross, co-founder and managing director of the FreshTracks Fund, the FreshTracks Road Pitch is designed to bring potential funding to new ideas. The twist is that these investors ride into eight Vermont towns on their motorcycles and listen to the entrepreneur’s pitch to fund their “better mousetrap.” The bikers, comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and business advisors, are looking for projects that they can assist.

This is the third year of the Central Vermont Road Pitch and the “pitchers” are ready for action. It will be held August 2 at the Vermont Granite Museum in Barre. The event is free and open to the public.

Five entrepreneurs with creative, demonstrably scalable ideas will be making a “pitch” to the riders, seeking advice, counseling, and investments in their offerings. It truly is a great event. Think “Shark Tank” on a local level.

The organizing committee has been actively working with the pitchers to help them hone their presentation skills and make that most important first impression. The rules are quite simple. Each pitcher has seven minutes to present their product to the bikers. The bikers have seven minutes for questions and answers and then it is on to the next presentation.

The “riders” will decide which, if any, of the proposals are worth investing in. In addition to the potential to line up funding for projects, $1,000 and a Vermont Teddy Bear “Biker Bear” will be awarded for the best presentation. The best presenter will also be entered for a $4,000 grand prize to be awarded to the statewide winner in October.

There will be final statewide “Pitch-Off” event which will be sponsored by and held at Champlain College on Oct. 17. The top Road Pitch participants from around the state will be invited to pitch for a grand prize of $5,000 and a year’s worth of mentoring from the Road Pitch riders.

“We are grateful that Champlain College will again host the final Road Pitch Pitch-Off event during 2018,” said Cairn Cross. “The final event will bring together the best pitches from the summer’s Road Pitch for one final pitch competition. As with our other Road Pitch events, the final event at Champlain College is open to the public.”

Joining me on the Central Vermont Road Pitch Steering Committee are David Rubel (Community National Bank), Joel Schwartz (Barre Area Development Corp.), Alyssa Johnson (Revitalizing Waterbury), Laura Gebhart (Montpelier Development Corporation), Jamie Stewart (Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation), Dan Groberg (Montpelier Alive!), Josh Jerome (Barre Partnership), Leanne Tingay (Orton Family Foundation) and Mark Browning (Stone and Browning).

Locally, the event is being sponsored by Community National Bank (presenting sponsor), The Barre Area Development Corporation, the Barre Partnership, Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, JET Envelope, Northfield Savings Bank, Revitalizing Waterbury, Superior Development, The Times Argus, and The World. Statewide sponsors include FreshTracks Capital, the Vermont Department of Economic Development, Key Bank, Gallagher, Flynn & Co., Champlain College, Social Sentinel, Bytes.co, Vermont Teddy Bear, Moulton Law, Emboldia, Maker Faire, Dinse and the Vermont Small Business Development Center.

Ride over to the Vermont Granite Museum on Thursday Aug. 2. See what the excitement is all about.

William E. Moore is the president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

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