Boise Entrepreneur Week to give away more than $100,000 in pitch competitions

By Sharon Fisher

One of the biggest components of Boise Entrepreneur Week (BEW) is the pitch competitions, and that doesn’t change with the event becoming largely virtual this year.

Pitch competitions scheduled to be held during BEW this year are:

·       The BEW Pitch Competition: The 2 Minute Drill Edition 

·       Trailmix

·       Youth Innovation Challenge

·       Investors Choice Conference

·       BSU Venture College Hacking For Homebuilding

·       BSU Venture College Cybersecurity Entrepreneur Challenge

“In another challenging year for BEW, where we had to adjust our plans and pivot to a hybrid/remote event, partnerships again proved to be the backbone for us,” said Tiam Rastegar, BEW co-chair and executive director of Trailhead, in an email message. “At its core, BEW is a collective gathering of stakeholders in our ecosystem. These stakeholders then collaborate under the BEW umbrella with one goal in mind: advancing entrepreneurship in our community. This “coming together” is achieved through partnerships between stakeholders and organizations.”

One change this year was more of an emphasis on partnership, Rastegar said.

“As a whole, we scaled back the scope of BEW as it was originally planned for this year,” Rastegar said. “However, through partnerships with The OutPost, and the Boise State Venture College, we will give away over $100,000.”

Boise Pitch Competition: 2 Minute Drill Edition

One of the most exciting partnerships is with the 2 Minute Drill television program, said John Williamson, senior vice president at Bonocore Technology Partners. “It allows us to not only promote the company for BEW, but it enables the winning company to go on to a nationally televised pitch competition on Bloomberg TV,” he said.

As part of that, BEW is also partnering with The Outpost, a business advisory group focused on the government vertical, which is based in Alexandria, Virginia and Boise. The business now has three staff members in Boise, and offices in the CenturyLink building at 10th and Main, said Jacquelyn Charters, business development manager for The Outpost.

The 2 Minute Drill television program stars David Meltzer and three judges. “The movie Jerry McGuire? David Meltzer is who the movie’s based on,” Charters said. “He’s an amazing talent recruiter, and one of the largest sports recruiting organizations in New York.”

The way the show works is participants give a two-minute pitch with their background, where they’re headed, what they’re doing, and their research and development plans. The winner of the show gets $50,000, which is contributed by the judges, Charters said. Meltzer is participating in BEW, and the winner of BEW will go on to the television show. “He’s coming out to Boise to be part of BEW,” she said. “Boise will be promoted in all the marketing materials.”

Altogether, there were 35 total applicants for the 2 Minute Drill competition, 23 of whom were from Idaho, Williamson said. In some cases, they were from Spokane or had relationships with Idaho, such as a former Boise State University student, he said.

Investors Choice Competition

BEW will also include a version of the Investors Choice conference that’s typically held in Salt Lake City. “The 2 Minute Drill is pivoting the traditional pitch competition,” Williamson said. “This year, we focused on earlier stage companies to allow them a great opportunity to leverage those funds.”

Consequently, the Investors Choice competition will be focused on later stage companies. “Many of these are veteran companies, and may not be participating as aggressively in mentoring,” Williamson said. “These are companies raising substantial dollars. They’re asking for $500,000 or more, and several are positioning for Series A funding.” There may be some familiar names in that group, including semifinalists from previous BEW pitch competitions, he said.

Other events

Trailmix, which is focused on food production, is continuing its relationship with the Albertsons grocery store chain, Williamson said.

In addition, there will be a private event for all the pitch competitors — including the ones that didn’t make the finals – to meet investors, Williamson said. While it could change due to COVID-19, the current plan is to hold that event live on the roof of JUMP, outdoors to reduce the likelihood of transmission but with canopies and heaters, he said. 

Sharon Fisher is a digital nomad who writes about entrepreneurship.