MANSFIELD – The Old Bag of Nails Pub bustled with excitement Tuesday evening as three entrepreneurs prepared to pitch their business ideas at Sundown Rundown.
A college student, a recent college graduate and a stay-at-home mom each were allotted five minutes to share their idea and an additional five minutes to take questions from the audience, which was filled with fellow entrepreneurs, potential investors and other professionals.
“Who knows what some of the companies we see here today will go on to do?” said Bob Cohen, Braintree Business Development Center business advisor.
He explained how Sundown Rundown alumni like Lexington High School graduate Dan Manges, who pitched Root Insurance at a previous event, successfully got the car insurance company off the ground. It was valued at $1 billon in August.
And Todd Kelley, who pitched Aspire Tech at an earlier Sundown Rundown, won third place at the recent Richland Idea Audition competition. Kelley is now pursuing more funding opportunities.
On Tuesday evening, stay-at-home mom, Amy Hiner of Ontario, pitched an idea inspired by her 10-year-old dog and two children, 5-year-old Maeley and 21-month-old Evan.
Gate Genie is a fashionable, but affordable. fabric cover for child and pet safety gates.
“My husband and I had a conversation about how we are constantly rigging things around our house to make it fit for our family and our life, and it was at that point that I decided I would stop rigging and start inventing,” Hiner said.
She thought safety gates were ugly, so she decided to create a cover for them.
She first pitched the idea at the Richland Idea Audition competition in October, where she was named as one of six finalists.
While she didn’t win, the experience encouraged her to keep going. She used feedback from the event to refine the Gate Genie and came to Sundown Rundown to share the idea in front of another audience.
“This is great because it’s mostly local people who are either experienced with working with entrepreneurs or they are entrepreneurs themselves,” she said.
Hiner hopes to wrap up beta testing by March 2019 and to have Gate Genie ready to market to households with pets and young children by May 2019.
She asked for the audience for connections to influential bloggers and material suppliers.
See Me Play
Phil Frentsos, an Ashland University senior, pitched an idea called See Me Play to Tuesday night’s crowd.
See Me Play is a digitally automated live stream for sporting events that uses computer vision and digital auto-tracking technology.
Frentsos, originally from Delaware, Ohio, has re-imagined existing technology for a new purpose.
“It was just seeing two things that already exist, putting them together and making it unique,” he said.
Frentsos, a starter on the Ashland University men’s basketball team, hopes to create a platform where he can share live streams from a single camera that follows basketball or other sports in a new way.
The cameras used can create a live stream can capture the whole court, follow the action and even follow a single player around. He said every image can be manipulated.
“You can zoom in, you can crop it, or you can set the game to digital auto tracking where it follows the game naturally," Frentsos said.
He intends to market the technology to mega sports complexes, YMCAs and college recreation centers.
He hoped to get feedback and find some mentors at Sundown Rundown.
Joe Duncko, CEO and cofounder of the Event Discovery Company, pitched an online calendar and invitation platform for non-profit organizations, called Evitt.
Duncko of the Youngstown area and two others, Andrew Jarvis and Chris Palmer, came up with the idea after discovering a void in online event promotion.
“Evitt allows organizations to work together to prevent event overlapping and gain more event exposure,” Duncko said.
The “most dangerous” thing an organization can do, he explained, is to “plan an event in the dark.” Organizations may end up picking a date that conflicts with another event relevant to its target audience. Evitt aims to diminish that risk.
Duncko has attended at least two Sundown Rundown events in Youngstown and one in Canton.
“I think it’s a real opportunity to practice the pitch and get some feedback in a low-pressure environment,” he said.
Duncko and the others are currently finalists at the FUEL competition in Akron for this same idea.