FOLLOW THE TEAMS: EPISODE 4

The Semi-Finals…

And then there were six… As the competition heats up, those that are finding their groove and ‘catching fire’ at the right time are seeing themselves rapidly rising to the top. On Tuesday (February 26th), we saw nine of our fifteen teams become eliminated from Pitch and now, in intense anticipation, we await Pitch: The Finals where we will see whose business has what it takes to bring home the $15,000 prize. Here is a quick look back at how the Semi-Finals went down, as well as what to expect from our Ideation and Traction track finalists…

PITCH Split into 2

We wanted to do things a little differently this year. Rather than having the finalists all competing for one of three prizes, we wanted to level the playing field for those with less of a foothold in their respectable target business markets. Thus, the two-track system was born, wherein it was discovered that by granting the $15,000 grand prize to one of three teams from the Traction standpoint, there would still be ample opportunity for success for those in the Ideation track as they will have a chance to win a $7,500 prize. Here is a brief overview of the three teams competing in each of the tracks.

Traction:

Monte Thigpen’s latest venture, Katoa, revolutionizes the digital wallet industry with their most recent product, ‘Elope’. Yet the newest of Monte’s great ideas will have to contend with the astounding traction already attained by Savannah Case’s Prosper Coffee. Delicious coffee that finds a way to incorporate CBD (and all the corresponding health benefits) into this tasty beverage?! This prosperous coffee business will be one to keep an eye on once Finals night arrives. Last, but certainly not least, is Matthew Tanoue’s Caveman Bands. Matthew made the Finals last year with his strong Pitch for affordable, silicon, and stylish wedding rings but has revamped and rebranded into this successful venture which encourages you to “Find a band as tough as your man”! It seems as though the competition may be just as tough as Tanoue’s rings.

Ideation:

Scriberr News has exploded onto the scene with their ambitious Pitch of a news agency that brings “a passion for pursuing all sides of truth”. We look forward to seeing how they oppose cloth with paper as Threads of Hope looks to aid families in the Philippines by purchasing handmade crafts to then sell as fundraising for outside organizations’ events, trips, etc. At least 50% of all proceeds are reinvested to support the Filipino crafters. Just as our Finals judges will search for a decisive winning pitch, Knowhere searches with sophisticated algorithms to provide an image of a travel location, and a brief description about it, based on the user’s preferences. A truly necessary piece of innovation in a world of indecisive vacationers.

“How are the nerves?”

I had the chance to sit down with Monte Thigpen after Pitch: Semi-Finals to find out what he’s feeling after such an exciting night of pitches. Here is what he had to say…

Can you provide a brief overview of your business venture?

“We sell two products, Elope and ElopePro. Elope is a direct-to-consumer digital wallet mobile application. And ElopePro is a platform that allows banks, financial institutions, and independent contractors to purchase their own branded digital wallet to resell to their customers.”

How are you feeling now that the Semi-Finals are over and you await the Judges’ decision?

“Oh, I’m shaking in my boots man! I was nervous a little bit coming into this thing. I believe I said ‘crap’ in the pitch even! And now it’s just waiting, it’s all I can do…”

If/when you move on, how will these following weeks of preparation be different than the past few weeks following the first elimination rounds?

“Aw shucks! If I know that I can get in the Finals I can definitely focus more on building my customer base. Sometimes we get caught up in building our pitch decks and talking to customers but we don’t really get traction. Which is obviously a key part of this track for Pitch. If I do move on, now I have a whole three or four weeks to really start building my clientele for the panelists to see my opportunity for success.”

Now that the Semi-Finals are over, what key moment(s) stick out in your memory as you look back at your journey through Zuventurez?

“Oh Man! All of the guest speakers (at Zuventurez Tuesday-night workshops in Wilden); hearing them tell their stories, actually pitch, and even tell us all of their failures. That REALLY helps out. It’s already overwhelming to pitch in general, but to meet other people who are now successful who failed sooooo many times. That right there is the most memorable part.”

Any parting advice you have for anyone thinking of joining Zuventurez in the future?

“Get involved in the community. Yes, it’s a competition between all the teams but we are all friends. We all want to help each other succeed, we all give each other tips. And of course, find your niche, find a way to start getting your product out there, it doesn’t even have to be compete! You just gotta start somewhere.”

What to Expect Next?

It’s all going down Tuesday, March 26th from 7-10pm on Azusa Pacific University’s East campus in the UTCC. But be sure to show-up early at 6pm to explore our Pop-Up Shop Experience! We hope to see you there for what will be a fantastic night of pitching! And, when the dust settles, we will find ourselves faced with several businesses duly rewarded for their Purpose, Ideation, Traction, Concept, and Hard-Work (P.I.T.C.H.)