Local News

Rutland makers pitch to investors

By Evan Johnson

Barry Leete and his team were looking to develop a new automatic pump regulator for firetrucks, Dave Goodspeed hoped to create orthopedic footbeds and inserts using 3D printers, and Jeff DeJarnette dreamed of starting an online music production company for artists around the globe. All three of them, plus a team of young designers called the “Robo Rattlers,” gave their best attempt to woo a packed room of potential investors at the Rutland Free Library on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The pitches were part of Road Pitch, a multi-day business growth event where motorcycle riders with investing, entrepreneurial and business experience hear pitches from start-ups in ten towns around the state.

Rutland was the fifth stop on the trip. Team riders parked an array of Triumphs, Hondas, BMW’s and Harley Davidsons outside the library and were identified by their red t-shirts. After Rutland, the group, which is registered as a club with the American Motorcycle Association, would ride south to Bennington on Thursday and then over the Green Mountains to Brattleboro on Friday. Riders picked a winner from each location. Ten winners will head to a championship pitch round on Oct. 19.

First up was Jeff DeJarnette, a member of The Mint, Rutland’s newly opened makerspace. The 25-year-old presented Soundplum, a subscription based company that would connect musicians with professional recording equipment remotely.

“Everyone wants to make music but not everyone has access to a $4,000 piece of equipment,” DeJarnette said.

To meet this perceived need, DeJarnette planned to house analog recording equipment in a small office in Rutland and connect customers to the equipment through online servers. Subscribers would choose one option on a three-tiered plan and have their music sent to a server for editing.

DeJarnette pitched a $210,000 investment in exchange for 20 percent equity to the investors.

Next up was Dave Goodspeed, owner of Rutland-based BalanceWorks. Balance currently works with shoe repair, pedorthics, and custom shoes. Goodspeed was hoping for an investment to develop a 3D printing operation to more efficiently create footbeds. Goodspeed said the materials made using 3D printing are more adjustable, more accurately produced and less labor-intensive.

“The business is very scalable,” he said. “We can line up the printers two at a time, four at a time or six. We can do whatever we want.”

Goodspeed was looking for an investment of $78,000 to be used for the printers, software, training, materials and storage space.

The third group of pitches was a three-person team from Fire Technologies International. CEO Barry Leete and his team presented “Accu-trol,” an automated system that controls the output of water on a firetruck’s pump. Fluctuations in water pressure can cause a firehose to behave unpredictably and lead to injury. Leete said their system would provide predictable and easily managed flows that could be directed with the touch of a button.

“It’s like your self-driving Uber,” said team member Robert McDermott.

Immediately following the five-minute pitches, the presenters were met with a wave of tough questions about the business plan and how they proposed to run it. Presenters did their best to provide succinct responses.

Presentations were ranked on target market, problem and need, team, project traction, revenue model and financial structure.

By the end of deliberations, Fire Technologies International was crowned the winner. They received a $500 check and two plush toys along with an invitation to the final round.

The last pitch of the day received arguably the most positive reaction from the audience as a team of 10- to 13-year-olds from the Rutland club Robo Rattlers presented the Breeze-And-Leave, an air conditioning system that adjusts the interior temperature of cars to keep pets comfortable and safe. The device also sends the owner updates via text message about the current interior temperature of the car.

The team said they weren’t looking for any investment from the pitch, but were looking to present the technology to an interested company for development.

Asked where the bidding would start at, 13-year-old team member Alec Harding didn’t miss a beat:“One million dollars!” he said, to thunderous applause.

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