Making most of podium time

By: 
Brian Brus

Courtesy of The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – Ten minutes. Just 600 seconds, and nothing more.

It’s perhaps one of the most difficult periods to manage when you’re trying to get a business off the ground, said Joe Wayman, president of ENB Science LLC.

“I want to talk and talk and talk about my company,” Wayman said before his turn at the podium to address potential investors. “I thought I did pretty well to get it down to 18 minutes at my last presentation. But to get it down to 10 minutes, I had to cut out a bunch of (video) slides.”

Wayman and about a dozen other entrepreneurs were given 10 minutes each to make a good first impression at the Bricktown Capital Conference on Monday at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. The Bricktown conference is sponsored biennially by the Oklahoma Venture Forum to help match investment funding with some of the state’s most promising startup businesses.

Wayman, for example, is seeking about $3 million to get his product, True-Dose, further into the market. True-Dose is a liquid pharmaceutical-grade pet supplement with a squirt bottle dose-delivery system that provides a precise alternative to the iffy proposition of forcing dogs and cats to swallow pills that can often be inappropriately measured for their body weights. Among True-Dose’s selling points: The companion animal consumer sector keeps growing. Pet owners spent more than $43 billion in 2008, up $20 billion from just a decade earlier.

Wayman said he has pitched his Oklahoma City company before, but on a much smaller scale to a few angel investors at a time. This week’s event had nearly 200 people in attendance at the luncheon, OVF Director Mindy Young said, and 300 were expected for the awards dinner. Those numbers included investors, entrepreneurs and related service providers such as bankers and intellectual property attorneys.

“We’re going to small shows and marketing to about 10 stores at a time, but if I could establish a real marketing arm I could get to Procter & Gamble or some other big-name to co-market with us. It would make all the difference in the world,” Wayman said.

Kenneth Oglesby with Tulsa-based Impact Earth LLC said he was feeling well-grounded before his turn at the presentation podium. Impact Earth produces rigs for installing ground-source heat pumps, faster, cheaper and with less of a disturbance. Oglesby, the company’s president, has been developing the technology for about 15 years. He’s seeking $2 million for building and testing two of the company’s special rigs.

“If there is a trick to this, a lot of it’s just luck, just making sure you get in front of the right person with an interest in that area with money to invest,” he said. “This kind of event helps reduce that luck and make it more likely that you’re going to meet the right kind of investor with the right kind of funding. They won’t get the full details in 10 minutes – there’s a lot to talk about – but they’ll get interested and come talk to you later.”

Shoaib Shaikh, chief executive of XploSafe LLC in Stillwater, echoed other presenters: “The only big problem is that there’s so much I’d like to share and there’s not enough time,” he said.

XploSafe is seeking about $300,000 for commercialization of technology that detects and neutralizes explosive compounds, with a focus on homeland security and military markets. A second application is the prevention of buildup of explosive peroxides that form organic solvents that can endanger chemical workers.

“So you focus on key points and remind all the parties after the presentation that if there’s anything they want to talk to you about, any detail at all, feel free to contact us,” he said. “And then you hope that you’ve caught their attention.”

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