Two minutes isn’t a very long time, but it’s all the time local entrepreneurs and small business owners had to present their elevator pitches during our recent Core City: Cleveland Open Mic Pitch Night. In a casual atmosphere, without any pressure to compete, more than a dozen participants polished their skills in front of a friendly audience of fellow entrepreneurs and a panel of experts.

The panel, which included Erica Penick, Director of Operations at The President’s Council, and Brandyn Armstrong, Founder and CEO of Studio Stick, provided real-time constructive feedback for improving the delivery and content of the pitches. The pair also helped participants identify vital elements they may have left out, including references to their market and target customer, the market need and customer pain points, the value of their product or service and a strong call to action.

“I think it was a great night,” said Armstrong who once practiced his pitch at similar Core City: Cleveland events and recently delivered it in front a live studio audience on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, where he took home $50,000. “I think the participants learned a lot from the experience and it was exciting to go from being the one out pitching there myself to being the one giving the feedback.”

All phases of business growth were represented on the stage—from those seeking opportunities and resources to get an idea off the ground, to those aiming to expand the operations of a 40-year old family business. For some, it was their very first attempt at pitching their venture in public, while others were seasoned veterans just looking to practice.

For a handful of entrepreneurs, the evening offered something more—an overwhelming amount of inspiration. A few had arrived on event day to simply take part as a spectator with no intentions to pitch. However, after watching their peers bravely step up to the stage, they were inspired to take the mic themselves.

“It was an amazing,” said Golden Goddess Cosmetics owner Ajah Hales, who impressed the crowd with her polished pitch, despite only having delivered it twice before in public. “I think that anytime you have the opportunity to come out and practice with people that are not only going to be supportive, but are going to give you constructive criticism that helps you get better, you should always take advantage of it.”

Interested in refining your own pitch skills and competing for a shot at $2,500? Enter our 2018 Core City: Cleveland Pitch Competition. To be eligible for this April 18 competition, you must live or own a business in Cleveland or one of its neighborhood and you must make an appointment to review your pitch with one of our business advisors no later than February 28, 2018.

To make an appointment, email corecity@jumpstartinc.org or call 216.456.2670.

Core City: Cleveland Open Mic Pitch Night Snapshots