Pitch It TXK!
Some of the most successful companies in America began with a single person and an idea. Thomas Edison had the right idea when he said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” Texarkana, USA is full of businesses that have started with a unique idea and a passion to grow our community. Maybe you have an idea that you feel would greatly benefit the community of Texarkana. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a way to get a jump start on making that idea a reality? What if our recent college graduates were presented with the possibility of starting their very own companies right here in Texarkana instead of taking their brilliant ideas to other larger cities?
Here is the opportunity your creative minds have been waiting for. A team of local sponsors who are committed to drawing and retaining the brightest minds of our area will hold an entrepreneurial competition cleverly called Pitch It Texarkana! This event will be held at Crossties Event Venue in Downtown Texarkana on March 31, where aspiring entrepreneurs will “pitch” their products, services and technological ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win $5,000. The second-place winner will receive $2,500, while third place will be awarded $1,000. Contestants will have exactly three minutes to “wow” the judges. This panel of local professionals will be looking for authentic and innovative ideas that will benefit the Texarkana area and further draw more talent and possibility.
Natalie Haywood, Director of Events and Communication at the Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, explained the details of this event and described how it got its start. The idea for Pitch It Texarkana! all started a couple of years ago when Mason White, Lesley Ledwell Dukelow, Steve Mayo, Ina McDowell, Brad Bailey and Judy Morgan were attending a Strategic Doing Workshop hosted by Leadership Texarkana. Strategic Doing lays out an approach to community development created by author Ed Morrison. Its goal is to “teach people how to form collaborations quickly, guide them toward measurable outcomes and make adjustments along the way.” Ed Morrison (2019)
In today’s world, collaboration is essential to meeting the complex challenges we face. Leadership Texarkana and Ruth Ellen Whitt have spearheaded the Strategic Doing efforts in Texarkana. During the workshop the group was posed the question, “Imagine if Texarkana, USA was a magnet for talent and entrepreneurship... What would that look like?” Much time passed after that workshop, but after running into each other and talking, White and Dukelow decided to round everyone back up and put their heads together.
As the goal for Pitch It Texarkana! is to inspire startup companies and promote entrepreneurial synergy within our community, this unique Texarkana program plans to turn strategic thinking into strategic DOING. “Graduating seniors would be more compelled to stay and pursue their dreams locally, startup businesses would thrive with a higher quality applicant pool and a wealth of resources, and Texarkana would be known throughout our region as a hub of innovation and opportunity,” said White.
Of course, much planning and organizing is in motion to prepare for this event. The judges include local entrepreneurs who have a desire to see Texarkana grow and flourish. Who better to judge than a panel of individuals who love our community and have played a part in its growth? Participants will have exactly three minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges and will be evaluated based on their ability to answer the following Key Questions...
- What is your technology, product or service? Participants will briefly describe what they are selling and the need it fulfills (i.e., what is the problem and what solution does their product/service provide?)
- What is your target market? Participants will briefly state to whom they are selling this product/service. How large is the applicable market? Into what industry does their product or service best fit?
- Who is your competition? Competition is positive, as it confirms that a market exists for their product/service. All products and services have competition.
- What is your competitive advantage? Participants will explain what makes their product unique. Why do they have an advantage over others? How will their company provide this product/service better than the competition?
- Who is behind the company? As the old saying goes, “Bet on the jockey, not on the horse.” Participants will be expected to explain how the experience of themselves, their team and/or their advisory board gives them credibility.
The Pitch It Texarkana! crew is excited about many things this event will bring about. Kasey Coggin, a member of the Strategic Doing Team, explained what she was most excited about. “As a “Texarkanian,” I am beyond excited about the opportunity to listen to the innovative ideas from our local residents that can potentially bring a new business, product or service to our community.” Haywood explained the team is also excited to see the community support of this inaugural event as the response has been great with press coverage and submissions. Expecting this event will be successful, discussions are already being held for next year’s Pitch It Texarkana! event. Once the winner is declared on March 31, the team will discuss the plus and minuses of the event to better prepare for future events.
If you have been waiting for the opportunity to pitch your idea, it’s not too late to throw your hat in the ring. The deadline for submissions is March 16 with a $15 application fee. The website for submissions is www.pitchittexarkana.com. The community is welcome to come out and watch the final pitches. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the same website. Food and drinks will also be available for purchase, so be prepared for an all-around fun and exciting time. According to www.pitchittexarkana.com, when applying for this event, keep in mind that the judges are looking for “applicants to think outside the box, harness their talent and creativity, pitch an innovative idea and see a path to entrepreneurial success here in Texarkana, USA.” As in any community, Texarkana’s success and growth will depend on working together and “doing strategically.” “Sometimes the first step is to simply pitch an idea and see where it goes!”