PubTalk dips toes in ‘Shark Tank’

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor



Clark County PubTalk will host its annual business pitch competition — one of the most popular events in the entrepreneurial networking series — on Tuesday, June 18 at the Fort Vancouver Artillery Barracks.

This year’s format is called “Swimming with the Sharks: Business Pitch Competition,” and it’s modeled after ABC’s “Shark Tank” television show in which startups compete for funding from wealthy investors. At the local event, three or possibly four local companies will pitch their business idea to a judging panel of five “sharks” who have specialized expertise in small business development and finance. The winning company will receive a $1,000 prize. The audience also will vote on its favorite presenter.

Not all of the presenting companies have been chosen, but one of the presenters comes with the experience of having competed on “Shark Tank.” Focus Designs Inc. of Camas is perhaps best known for its self-balancing unicycles. While running the gauntlet to get onto the show was an exciting experience, said company partner David Martschinske, the company decided not to enter into the deal that was proposed on the show. But in preparation for PubTalk it has received assistance from the Columbia River Economic Development Council, a PubTalk sponsor.

“It’s a godsend (the CREDC) reached out to us,” Martschinske said of CREDC.

Rick Nagle, co-founder of VectorPoint Ventures and one of the evening’s “sharks,” said the event should give presenters as well as the audience a solid idea of what investors are looking for in startups. The PubTalk event is “a really great opportunity for Clark County,” said Nagle, adding that his firm is looking for investment opportunities in Southwest Washington.

Other “sharks” in addition to Nagle are:

• Betsy Henning, founder and CEO & of Alling, Henning and Associates, Inc., a Vancouver marketing and communications firm.

• Paul Kollar, founder and CEO of Vancouver technology firm Loki Systems LLC,

• George DeCarlo, founder and CEO of Woobox, a provider of social marketing software. Woobox recently moved its headquarters to downtown Vancouver.

• Lisa Lowe, attorney at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt in the firm’s Vancouver office.

The event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fort Vancouver National Site’s Artillery Barracks, at 600 E. Hatheway Road. Cost is $20 with advance registration or $30 at the door. Advance tickers area available through the Columbia River Economic Development Council. The Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council is a co-sponsor.

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