By Emma Hall
Entrepreneurs young and old gathered at Oregon Entrepreneurs Network's April 2011 PubTalk. Held the second Wednesday of every month (except July and December), the OEN gatherings allow entrepreneurs to gain feedback on their pitches from a group of peers. Two emerging entrepreneurs present a 5-minute pitch, and then one featured entrepreneur gives a longer overview, fielding questions from the audience. Yesterday, the entrepreneurs ranged from a "mompreneur" to a snowboarder.
The OEN PubTalks started out back when the organization was known as the Oregon Young Entrepreneurs Club, and the PubTalks were called "Entrepreneurs Anonymous." True to that fashion, the first thing each presenter must say when they step on stage is "Hi, my name is ___." The audience of entrepreneurs (fueled by their drink ticket, and the wide array of food available at Backspace) chorus back "Hi ___!" to the presenter.
First up at the April 13 event was the president of EcoLogistics, LLC, Chris Humphries. "Hi Chris!" the gathered entrepreneurs chirped before he gave his 5-minute talk on his startup's software, which provides people in the construction industry with metrics to prove to their customers how "local" they are, including economic, environmental and social figures.
The second 5-minute pitch was given by Daniel Clancey, the founder and creative director of Homeschool Snowboarding. From a background in the outerwear industry, Clancey's company makes snowboarding clothing with a focus on super durable yet breathable fabrics. With the tone of the stereotypical snowboarder, Clancey explained that the weather of the Pacific Northwest led to his company's tagline- "If it will work here, it will work anywhere."
The featured presenter at the OEN PubTalk was Marietta Harrison, Founder and CEO of Soothie Suckers. Harrison was OEN's Angel Oregon 2011 Concept-Stage winner, and seeing her present at the PubTalk, it was clear why. The entrepreneur and mom of five was poised and and not flustered while answering all the questions thrown at her from the audience, which ranged in topic from whether or not her packaging was recyclable to the pH level of her products.
Soothie Suckers are all-natural herbal ice pops for kids. "So I'm not in your target demographic yet," said emcee Dave de Fiebre. "They're for children ages 2 to 92," Harrison quipped. She explained that she even sold a few to grandparents already.
With success from her attendance at the world's largest trade show featuring natural products in Anaheim, Soothie Suckers is gaining prominence. A successful marketing program that reached out to "mommy bloggers" also helped greatly. Though she only started her company about 11 months ago, Harrison already has had offers from big name grocery stores, purchased orders from 11 companies, and is excited for what the future holds.
When asked what her expected profits were, Harrison just laughed and refused to give a figure. She explained that she was too embarrassed, as her "expectations are really high." What we do know is that this mom who was simply looking for a more natural way to treat her kids' illnesses, now is seeking $250,000 in investment for a 10% stake in her company.
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.