By COLlive reporter
There was money being offered and some 200 people came to the Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs’ second annual “Shark Tank” style event to watch how it all went down.
“Fund It” offered Jewish enterprisers a chance to pitch their start-up ventures to a panel of experienced businessmen willing to invest.
The investors were David Schottenstein, Shmuel Gniwisch, Daniel Wolfson, Esriel Rapoport and Gedaliah Weinberger, offering up to $250,000 in seed money to turn a vision into a reality.
“But if you can’t accept failure, if you can’t successfully pick yourself up and move on the next thing, you’ll never get anywhere,” warned Schottenstein in his opening remarks.
The clothing and software entrepreneur explained that persistence is key in any successful business, as he learned from founding the profitable companies Astor & Black Custom Clothiers, Swiss Stays and Viewabill.
He described how he called one prospective client dozens of times in 6 months, in the hopes of landing a meeting with him. After finally getting him on the phone, he convinced him to meet with him. Fast forward a few years later, and this man and his partner were his company’s largest clients.
Schottenstein, an Ohio native who lives today in Miami, also inspired participants with his advice on being strong in yiddishkeit in the business world.
“I wouldn’t take my yarmulka off for anything,” he stated. “Even if people wouldn’t like me and wouldn’t do a deal with me because I am Jewish. Anyways, I see my yarmulka as prime advertising space, which I’m not giving up,” he joked, noting that his company logo is usually printed on his yarmulka.
During the event, held at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva social hall, four companies made their pitch for investment money from the 5 investors.
Pitch 1: Instatrade
Presenter: Tzvi Chamish, New York
Launched in November 2013
Description: An online marketplace for buying, selling and trading goods, via an iPhone app. Capital is needed to expand to Android and to market the product to consumers. Currently selling 4,500 products. Says it’s faster to post an item than Ebay or Craigs’s List and items can be searched by geolocation.
The ask: $150,000 for 15% stake in the company.
Investors: Not interested.
Pitch 2: Stat Gear
Presenter: Avi Goldstein, Kew Gardens Hills, Queens
Launched in Summer 2012
Description: A Hatzalah paramedic, he created a company that makes Stat gear, paramedic gear, auto rescue gear, auto survival kits, auto first aid kits, basic and survival items. His new product is a car rental car necessity kit to be included in rental cars.
The ask: $200,000 for 20% stake.
Investors: Schottenstein in. Gniwisch, Wolfson want to hear more and may invest in the future.
Pitch 3: Timebanx
Presenter: Chani Shusterman, Pittsburgh
Launched in 2010
Description: Software allowing schools and non profit organizations to manage volunteers hours. Custom coded program. Volunteers sign up for multiple jobs and keep track of what jobs and how many hours they volunteered.
It can be used for banking of hours, where time is calculated as money, to pay for tuition, etc.
For now, approximately 5 paying schools.
Investors: All said they would want to see paying more customers before investing.
Pitch 4: Barge
Presenter: Noah Blumenthal, originally from Baltimore, now from Crown Heights
Description: An engineer who began working for PC Magazine at age 14, he created a load testing service to monitor websites.
The ask: $75,000 for a stake to be determined.
Investors: Wolfson in.