Does entrepreneurial speed dating work?

July 18, 2012
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This week, let’s use What’s New Wednesday to discuss the fourth-annual Innovation Showcase, an increasingly popular event that aims to connect area entrepreneurs with interested investors. Think speed dating with higher stakes.

About 60 founders made one-minute pitches to potential funders at the July 12 event, presented by the Venture Club of Indiana and tech startup group Verge.

Attendance has grown since the collaboration began last year. All told, 65 high-potential businesses and more than 500 venture capitalists were expected among the 1,000-plus attendees. (In the end, a few firms were no-shows or didn’t make pitches.)

This year's business concepts ran the gamut from ChoreMonster, a Cincinnati-based tech firm that allows parents to tie incentives to their kids’ to-do lists, to MyFarms LLC, a Jay County farmer’s idea for using data-driven practices to maximize yields.

Some, like social-connection platform, are seeking seed money to get their ideas off the ground. Others are further along, looking for ways to grow.

Indianapolis-based lip balm maker ChopSaver, for example, has had success among professional musicians, but now founder Dan Gosling wants to bring the product to a broader market. He’s trying to raise $1 million to make that happen.

ChopSaver—which won plenty of attention at the showcase thanks to its man-sized mascot and trumpet-playing founder—was among several local presenters IBJ already has covered. Just in the last year, we’ve written about Courseload Inc., CoatChex, Legacy Travel Club, App Press, TinderBox, PatentStatus, Snappening and Purple Pail. (Legacy’s uniformed “flight attendants,” who handed out decorated sugar cookies, also were a hit.)

The event provided enough story ideas to keep me busy for awhile, but let’s hear from other attendees with more skin in the game. What did you expect from the Innovation Showcase? Did it deliver?

  • Thumbs Up!
    The ChopSaver Team had a great time and loved the energy! We didn't expect anyone to write a check on the spot but the feedback was invaluable and we have some solid leads to follow.
  • Yep, seems to do the trick!
    Our company,, has participated in the event twice now, and both times we've made new contacts, grown our stature in the VC community and learned from new business connections and advocates. We're thankful we've been allowed to participate at this level in the community and welcome such opportunities. When you're new, having some guidance and feedback on your growth concepts is a big aid. Oh, and people interested in giving you money always helps too!
  • Would do again
    Great connections made and I would do it again. Our product is a platform for other developers so InnovationShowcase was a double win for us by having developers looking for projects and products to create.
  • Fun Netweaving
    I recently participated in a speed marketing event by the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). My firm, Relocation Strategies generates a lot of our business by referrals. The more contacts you have, the more referrals you can give. The more referrals you give, the more referrals you get.

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