Two brand-spanking new companies earned the top spots at the latest G60 Elevator Speech Competition, which was held during the 2015 Northwest Arkansas Business Expo on Tuesday (Aug. 11).
The competition invites entrepreneurs to give their 60-second “elevator” (introduction) speech and then the crowd votes on their favorite as do the panel of judges. The Judges Award that went to CartDelivered and the People’s Choice Award was earned by Swivel Caddy. The awards are $1,000 each.
Swivel Caddy is the product, and the business name, from two teenage girls. Cate Mertins, 14, and Ellen Timmerman, 13, are working on the idea that is essentially a spinning tower of tools, providing the user easier access than having to dig through a tool box while they work, Timmerman said.
The pair also won a teen entrepreneur camp competition that was sponsored by Startup Junkie Consulting.
“My family builds stuff all the time and sometimes it’s hard to find (the right tool),” Timmerman said of the idea’s origin.
The company launched about a month ago and the next step is to secure financing to build a prototype and 3D model, the girls said. There is no shortage of companies in Northwest Arkansas to help the teens with a 3-D prototype if they can raise the enough funds. There is also patent checking and patent applications to file if they hope to protect their idea.
Joshua Ayres lives in Little Rock but lived in Fayetteville until a couple of years ago. He founded CartDelivered two months ago and calls it the “Uber of grocery delivery.” The idea is that people can use the site to request that people who are already at a store or headed to a store to pick up a few items and that person delivers it. Ayres started the company two months ago in Little Rock and plans to expand the program and improve the user experience. He hopes to have the business serving Northwest Arkansas soon, he said.
"The CartDelivered venture is a platform that has been simmering on the back burner of my mind for about a year-and-half as I sought counsel from many business experts, legal minds, entrepreneurs and investors,” Ayers said.
He too, was a previous winner, taking home the top prize in the recent Pitch’N Pint elevator speech competition held in Little Rock in July. He said the biggest hurdle he’s had to overcome is not tripping over his own self-doubt given that he’s playing in a somewhat crowded space with Google, Wal-Mart and Amazon still trying to figure out same-day delivery.
Jeff Amerine, founding principal at Startup Junkie Consulting, is the founder of the G60 Competition and was the emcee for Tuesday’s competition, which had about 30 people sign up. He said the competition is an opportunity for “creative collisions” between fellow entrepreneurs and others who might be interested in their business.
“It’s an opportunity to engage,” Amerine said. “We hope that (the entrepreneurs) will meet people and make new relationships.”
This is the fourth time the G60 competition has been a part of the Expo and the competition has been in Rogers at other locations a couple of other times. They plan to partner with Hark TV that will take the G60 competition throughout the southeast United States, Amerine said. That partnership should happen in the next year.
“They are like the entrepreneurial CNN,”Amerine said of Hark.
The NWA Business Expo featured 135 businesses and was a “great mix of businesses,” said Steve Cox, vice president of economic development at Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.