The art of making a business deal can end with a handshake, a hug, or even a drink. But before that, there is normally a pitch.
- Social entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to investors, judges
- Competition was like 'Shark Tank;' winner giver $25,000
- The businesses spoke to investors, even if they didn't win
Thursday night, in front of a room of investors and judges, eight businesses pitched their ideas and products. In a Shark Tank-like competition, the winner was given $25,000.
Out of eight entrepreneurs competing, there were four non-profit and four for-profit companies.
“There are so many people who are dependent on public transportation, and we have to do better,” said David Moran, co-founder of Omni.
Omni helps transit agencies and cities use real-time data to enhance the quality, efficiency and reliability of public transportation for riders.
“The cruise lines change out 12,000 beds each year here in Florida,” said Kathy Baldwin, an entrepreneur with The Mustard Seed.
Their company is diverts discarded mattresses away from landfills, and converts them into clean beds and reusable materials.
The whole idea of the competition and mentorship program came from the company Rally; an accelerator for social enterprise ideas.
“You could be working on any issue. Social, economic, environmental problems. It has to be an attractive difficult problem, so people are working on human trafficking, accessibility of transportation,” said Ben Hoyer, Rally COO.
The entrepreneurs pitching were chosen from a group of 39 businesses who all applied. Each of the eight worked with local mentors for six months before they made their pitches.
“This kind of puts you in a blender, so you are getting critiques, you are hearing different opinions and you are actually forced to apply that and get on your game, almost to make it in a slight competition,” said Lee Perry, with Fleet Farming, who’s non-profit helps with urban agriculture.
Ultimately, Omni entrepreneurs Moran and Nathan Selikoff won the $25,000.
"Just complete shock. Yes complete shock,” they said with smiles.
The other seven businesses were not left empty handed. As each of them left the stage, they were approached by local investors with offers.
“Oh I was bombarded, which was great. I wasn’t expecting that, because I was still a little emotional, but as soon as I came off the stage I have already sat down with three or four people,” said Perry.
“We are committed to make Orlando a hub for social enterprise, that when people think of where to go to start their social enterprise, they Orlando is the place that has the resources and the support systems,” said Hoyer.
Along with Rally, there were several groups that help make the competition possible. They include: Central Florida Foundation, CNL Financial Group, Downtown CREDO, Rollins College, Entrepreneurs in Action, City of Orlando, Greenberg Traurig, JP Morgan Chase, and several others.