Try using the word "homesteading" in front of most investors. It's not one that inspires confidence in those you're pitching to, but in my case, it's the only word that applies.
Earthineer is a network designed exclusively for homesteading and sustainable living that allows people to socialize, find experts, and trade.
Many investors think of a "homesteader" as some guy with bad teeth and an unkempt beard...someone who is distilling moonshine back in the hills, and eeking a meager existance out of a mean soil.
In actuality, the word "homesteader" is having a bit of a Rennaissance. It's even taking place in urban environments, and the title "urban homesteader" has been used to described homesteading activities in suburban/urban environments. Chickens are going into suburban backyards, yards are being transformed into edible landscapes, and beehives are going on the top of city buildings.
My point is this – I recognize that I often have a hurdle to overcome when pitching Earthineer. I have to describe the topics, and I have to be appeal to the audience I'm pitching to. If I'm lucky, there will be people in the audience for whom the idea actually resonates.
I participated in the INKUBATOR program this last year. It offered all of the classes and mentors that you'd expect out of an accelerator, and it was my first real introduction to the vibrant startup communities that are taking place in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington.
Through contacts that I made during the INKUBATOR, I met Warren Nash, and eventually found myself at the 5 Across competition on October 31st.
By time that I pitched at 5 Across, I had already given this pitch twice before...but I was never more nervous than when I pitched that night. Sitting at the judges table was none other than Brad Feld. I had known that he was in town (I was going to attend one of his talks in Lexington), but I hadn't anticipated that he'd be there at 5 Across as a judge.
My pitch went well though, and as I passed by the judge's table to sit down, I could see that several of them were looking at Earthineer (some of them even signed up during the event – even Brad).
It was humbling...and exciting.
Afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the other judges. It turned out that he raised chickens and ducks. We talked for a long time...long after most of the crowd had left the Awesome Inc space.
He wound up being an investor, and was my advocate when I went on to pitch to the Bluegrass Angels.
I won $500 at the Oct. 31st pitch, and $1,000 at the finals.
So...what did I use the prize money for? It's likely a boring use of those winnings, but I used them to pay my monthly operational costs – Rackspace, Embedly, SendGrid, etc.
I admit to liking competitions...and the prize money was much-needed...but the value of prize money paled in comparison with the networking opportunities that I received as a result of pitching at 5 Across.
Above all else, pitching is about finding advocates.
That's the true value of the 5 Across competition and everything that Awesome Inc provides to Lexington - the opportunity to engage and participate in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.