So What’s This All About?
For nine years our firm FreshTracks Capital has hosted an event called Peak Pitch which is Vermont’s version of the elevator pitch. Entrepreneurs are paired with investors/advisers for a ride up the Gatehouse Chairlift at Sugarbush where they make a pitch, collect feedback and ideas and head back down the mountain to do it all over again with a new investor/adviser. Peak Pitch attracts about 120 people from all over Vermont and attendees routinely tell us that it is simply “the best business event.” After the 2014 event I began mulling over what could be created that would be a summer companion to Peak Pitch. I’m a novice motorcycle rider. As a kid I had a series of mini bikes and occasionally if I was lucky I got to ride the dirt bikes or trail bikes owned by my friends. However, as an adult I never rode a road bike or a motorcycle of any kind for that matter. In 2013 I decided it was time and signed up for the weekend Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginner riders’ course. For anyone interested in learning to ride motorcycle this is a great way to accomplish your goal. A motorcycle and a helmet is provided. If you pass the test given at the end of the two day course you get your license. As soon as I was licensed I bought a used Honda Shadow ACE and set out to become more accomplished rider.
As I was thinking about what might be a good summer event for Vermont which would accomplish the same purpose as Peak Pitch it struck me that there are many accomplished motorcycle riders who are entrepreneurs and investors and business advisers. It seemed like a fun idea to create a ride around our beautiful state at the height of summer which would bring “business bikers” to various towns along the route where we would stop and listen to pitches from entrepreneurs and see what we might be able to do to provide some help. Perhaps we can provide or connect the entrepreneur to capital. Perhaps we can suggest alternative methods of starting or growing a company. Perhaps we can help an entrepreneur think through their business model. Perhaps we can connect them to human resources who might be able to help them take their idea to the next level. Perhaps with our experience we can keep them from making the mistakes that we have.
Selfishly the ride serves two purposes for me. FreshTracks has a brand new fund (FreshTracks Capital III our third fund) and we are looking for the next great Vermont entrepreneur to back so there is a clear reason for me to take a tour of the state and listen to pitches. Also as a novice rider, I am really looking forward to riding with riders who have had dozens of years and hundreds of thousands of miles of experience. All I hope is that they wait up for me occasionally .
I’ve spent virtually my entire career financing companies in Vermont. We have a stable of innovative entrepreneurs here. We are small in size and numbers but this means we operate on a community basis. For start-up companies the resources are more accessible here. Phone calls and emails are returned. People open up their contacts to others and make introductions. Mentors are available. Good advisers are plentiful. There is capital available. I hope to see you on the road this summer.