Bricco’s restaurant in downtown Akron was the site recently of the area’s first ever SunDown RunDown. Founded in Columbus by Paul Proffitt last March the concept is simple: pitch your startup or small business idea for five minutes, then field questions on your concept for five minutes and receive feedback and input from those in the audience in a relaxed setting.
Sometimes ten minutes is all it takes to connect an entrepreneur to an investor or a business mentor. The event was an opportunity for people with imaginative business ideas to meet and network with those in the community who might be able to help them turn their dream into a reality.
Katie Mang, 28, of Silver Lake, experienced trouble getting advice and finding local mentors to help with her startup business, an online site that lets people donate their talents to raise money for charities. So she went to the Columbus group’s meeting in august to present her pitch and decided to begin working on bringing the idea to Akron.
Proffitt – founder of the original SunDown RunDown in Columbus – teaches entrepreneurship at Columbus State Community College and feels the group is a way to get away from the formality and to be a laid back community type event. They are about entrepreneurs trying to get feedback on their ideas and discuss roadblocks. They are asking, “Is there anybody out there who can help me?”
The first two presenters, representing JuiceBoxx, Inc., were Lucus Williamson and Scott Scherpenberg, both juniors at Ohio State. Their new product development concept concerned MacBook charger cables. Both men experienced the problems of connector breakage and also identifying which charger belonged to whom. They surveyed fellow students and found 44% had broken chargers and experienced problems with mixing them up. They’ve come up with solutions for the problems and are currently in the development stage. Co-founder Scherpenberg can be reached at (513) 582-8285 or email [email protected]
The next presenter was Torrie Fischer with Phong Robotics who is a computer scientist and builds hackable sensor networks which allow monitoring of situations and environments. He wants to build a set of open-source hardware designs and software tools to enable people to run systems on their own. Contact: [email protected]
Next was Nicholas Petroski with Office Space Coworking. A local Akronite, Nick has started previous ventures and purchased OSC in September, 2013 because he saw its huge potential. He feels there is some really awesome talent right here in Akron and there are a lot of people with an entrepreneurial mindset that do not have a network community to connect and support them. His solution is to use OSC as the platform to build out this community and provide those services and that inclusion with other people that can make a startup successful vs. one that fizzles. He wants to support and foster the type of environment that will attract more startups here. His solution is having a co-working space engaged with full entrepreneurial staff that will talk about bringing people from the idea stage all the way through to the profits. Currently there are two offices, one in Akron and one in Canton, with 22 members. They are specifically seeking tech entrepreneurs. Contact his at (330) 283-5568 or [email protected]
Presenting next was Paul McAvinchey from Ireland who moved to Ohio about two years ago. He organized Tech Pint, a mini-tech conference in a bar. They will hold their first event in Akron this December 5th bringing 150 of Akron’s investors and entrepreneurs together at the knight Center.
The final presenter was Karen Dynowski with Hospitality Control Systems (www.hcs-pos.com). HCS provides point of sale systems to bars and restaurants, to hair salons, and to small retailers. They can integrate camera systems with the POS system. They have restaurant pager systems and liquor control systems to assure a perfect pour each time. Their systems are credit card information compliant and they can incorporate thumb print readers.
Among those attending the event was John Green who, with his wife is working on a startup called Café O’ Play, a combination nice coffee shop attached to a large indoor playground targeted for parents and caregivers with children less than ten years of age. Visit: www.cafeoplay.com.
Paul DeCapulla, from SCORE, was in attendance. SCORE helps entrepreneurs as well as going into funding hints and tries to help them get on the right track. Their responsibility is initial counseling. They do business plans and financial modeling with high school students and colleges in the area.
Ken Burns is the founder and president of Tiny Circuits which is an Akron startup in Canal Place. They make small electronic devices.
Jim Petroski is a mechanical contractor in Akron since the early 80s. He is planning a new start up that will bring products that are currently available only to the wholesale market into the retail hands.
Also attending were John Myerson, a member of the Akron Archangels, investors for high-tech companies, and, the chairman of the board of the Downtown Akron Partnership which is constantly looking to promote young startups and to see what they can do to help them out.
Mang said she intends to conduct the events quarterly with the next one to be held in March. For further information visit www.sundownrundown.org.