'Shark Tank'-like event planned for Pocatello - East Idaho News
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‘Shark Tank’-like event planned for Pocatello

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POCATELLO — Many great business ideas never sprout legs. They wither and die due to a lack of funding.

Still, more are forced out of small cities, like Pocatello, to large metros, like Salt Lake City and Boise.

Alex Arreola, Lisa Brian and Denis Clijsters, each a business owner in Pocatello, want those trends to end. So they are hosting a business pitch event — similar to the ABC show ‘Shark Tank.’

As Brian explained, there are numerous investors in the Pocatello area. But those investors seek out investment opportunities elsewhere because there is no major business network in town. All the while, potential business owners take their ideas elsewhere in search of investors for the same reason.

“We’re not only losing out on money in our community, but money from our community is also going out to somebody else,” Brian said.

The Square Investors Pitch event aims to remedy those issues.

On Sept. 17, screened business pitches will be presented to potential investors. Registration for the event is free, but the window for registration — open now — will close on Sept. 1.

Brian encourages anyone with an idea they would like to pitch to register now. Everyone registered for the event will have access to classes the trio will host to prepare pitchers for the event.

Much like the Business Bootcamp, the trio hosted in March, the classes will be designed to help those with an idea create a business plan. These classes, however, will be geared toward preparing that plan to be pitched to an investor.

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As Clijsters said, the goal is to reinvigorate the local business scene.

“If we can hook up the money that’s here and the talent that’s here, there’s a good chance more of that talent will stay,” he said.

The pitch event begins at 10 a.m., but no end time is scheduled because the planners are hoping for as many pitches as possible.

Arreola, Brian and Clijsters will screen pitches before they are approved for the event.

“We don’t want to waste (the investors’) time. Time is money,” Clijsters said.

Pitches will be held to three minutes each, with a question-and-answer portion immediately following. Only one pitcher will be allowed in the pitch room at a time, so prospective business owners can rest assured that their ideas will not be presented to others outside the investors.

According to Brian, similar events are held in the region. The difference with this one is the “substantial money” available. She said there is no winner or loser, no guaranteed prize for the best pitch. Instead, good, well-thought-out business models could receive the money needed for a start-up.

There will also be pitchers who do not receive any money but get much-needed direction from those in attendance — direction that helps them create a more solid business plan.

“We’re here to help the community and to create this hub for businesses that already functioning to come together, but also for all those startups to come together, to help each other,” Brian said.

The trio agreed that Pocatello is an excellent candidate to create that sort of hub.

Not only because of its history as a business portal but also its central location. Business owners in and around Pocatello are just a hop, skip and jump from Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. They are also just a short drive from Boise and Salt Lake City.

Plus, Arreola added, the Pocatello community has shown in recent years that it values its local businesses.

“What’s cool that I’ve seen with small locally owned businesses that are popping up these past few years is, this community is so supportive,” he said.

For information about the event or to register, go to the website — here. Questions can be directed to Lisa Brian, at (208) 240-8828.