When I stepped into Epicentral Coworking for Pitch Night on June 22, I found myself in an entirely new world that I had never known about. I found a group of people gathered to hear pitches, most of whom came for no other reason than to just support startups and the startup ecosystem of Colorado Springs.
Before I go too far into Pitch Night, let me explain about Epicentral Coworking. Like is sounds, Epicentral is a coworking space for freelancers, commuters, and business people who work remotely. It provides workspaces and meeting places geared towards people who are just starting their own businesses, but it houses a variety of people and companies. Epicentral holds a plethora of events, including Pitch Nights, that contribute to its dream to become a center of “entrepreneurship, business, and creativity,” and to see Colorado Springs grow as a hub for economic development.
So, Pitch Night—here’s what happened:
The official start of the event was marked with the bringing out of pizza and drinks at 5:30pm; however, people came well beforehand to network, talk and just enjoy each other’s company prior to getting down to business.
By 5:40, the large, open room that had comfortably held 20 or so people just 10 minutes before was full enough that it became necessary for people to maneuver through the crowd to get anywhere, making it so that everyone needed to speak loudly in order to be heard over the general noise.
At 6:00, the room changed. It became quiet (quieter) and the evening began to move quickly and efficiently. A host greeted everyone and asked them to find a seat—or stand in the back, once all the seats were taken. The event consisted of a short talk on startups vs. small businesses, a quick session for 30 second plugs for events or opportunities around the community, and three succinct pitch presentations.
From the talk, we learned that a start-up is similar to a small business, except that it has the trajectory goal of becoming a national or even international company—a start-up reaches for more than just a niche in a local market.
The plug session taught us that there are opportunities for volunteering, networking, and even working all over the city if you just take the time to get involved.
During the pitch presentations, we learned about three different start-ups, all in various stages of starting up: a website development company aiming to provide affordable and professional services for small businesses that want to improve their online presence, a faith-based crowdfunding platform making it possible for people fundraising to get as close to 100 percent of donations as possible, and a website where people planning events can look at what venues are available around the city at any given time. Each of these presentations lasted for strictly five minutes and were given a five minute Q&A session from the audience afterwards.
You may notice a theme here: each section was quick and full. What you may not be able to see is the enthusiastic atmosphere of the whole event. At every chance, people clapped and cheered. The hosts were supportive, and yet they asked the presenters difficult questions and opened the floor to criticism. The presenters themselves were professional, and their excitement to be there, pitching for their companies, grabbed the audience’s attention.
One of the best parts of the night, and the main reason we were all there, was hearing the pitches. These presenters and entrepreneurs saw needs that were not yet being met, and were taking the initiative to fill those needs.
The other inspiring part of the night, the more unexpected part, was seeing the enthusiasm that the participants—presenters, hosts, and audience—had to support each other and Colorado Springs through networking, critiquing, and just being there.