Community ‘pitched in’ for business event


On August 1, about 30 motorcycle-riding, Vermont-based investors, entrepreneurs and business advisers rolled into Essex to hear pitches from seven business startups. Almost 100 attended this first stop on FreshTracks Road Pitch’s eight-stop Vermont tour. This Essex event was a collaborative effort and many deserve a big thank you.

Green Mountain Harley Davidson’s leadership team (Dave and Debbie Pearson and Kim and Peter Curless) and their incredibly efficient staff handled site logistics, offered a great breakfast and provided a unique, motorcycle themed venue. There was no surprise that Dave and Debbie joined the riders as they headed south to Rutland.

The Rotary Club of Essex provided members for volunteering to make the event run smoothly and moral support.

The Champlain Valley Exposition and Tim Shea filled an important gap by supplying over 100 chairs.

Essex’s co-working space – Excelerate Essex and its principal, Emir Heco – helped recruit, assess and mentor presenters as well as keeping our focus on the larger goals. The coordinator of The Living Room, Kristin Humbargar and new Essex resident Jim Bernegger both helped sharpened the pitches with their unique perspectives.

The Essex Economic Development Commission promoted an environment that supports business startups.

This year, all seven “pitchers” have an Essex connection. I want to thank each of them for taking giant step of honing their ideas into compelling business pitches: Essex residents Skip Oliver (Urban Grow Systems) and Kip Steele (Vital VR: Creative Studio); Essex High School grads Will Peters – EHS ‘02 (Cold Brewtus) and Adam Watts – EHS ’10 (Carpe Diem Games – No Honor Among Thieves); and businesses that may locate in Essex – Ben Rowe (Warm Apple Pie Cordial) and Joel Bedard (Vermont Hemp Company). And, finally, the Riders Choice winner, Steve and Jen Swanson’s emerging business, Tomorrow’s Harvest: Today’s Crickets for Health and Sustainability of Tomorrow. If you find yourself eating cricket-based protein powder in the future, it may well be produced here by these innovative entrepreneurs.

Perhaps we’ll do it again next year. If you have business ideas you would like to “pitch,” get in touch with Excelerate Essex to put your hat in the ring.

Greg Morgan

Essex Jct.