Tahoe Pitch Showcase highlights Truckee entrepreneurs | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Pitch Showcase highlights Truckee entrepreneurs

From left to right: Holly Verbeck, Trina Gold, Peter Mayfield, Sandra Doris, Scott Radow and Sue Morganti were the final six contestants to compete at the second annual Tahoe Pitch Showcase following a four week workshop that trained a total of 22 entrepreneurs.
Nina Photography

Truckee got a taste of what area entrepreneurs are working on during the Tahoe Silicon Mountain second annual Tahoe Pitch Showcase this week.

“A lot of times with these competitions you see tech companies,” said Kristin York of the Sierra Business Council. “These are all real, Truckee, organic companies. They were born here, they operate here.”

Similar to pitches made on the popular “Shark Tank” TV show, six contestants had five minutes each to present their companies and ideas to an audience and panel of three judges.

Contestants included a nonprofit organization aimed at troubled youth, backpacks with built-in shelters, a health food delivery service, an application that syncs with the rhythm of your workout, a media production company that covers youth sports, and a service for entrepreneurial chefs.

Peter Mayfield of Gateway Mountain Center, a nonprofit centered around nature-based therapy and healing for troubled youth, took home first prize as well as the people’s choice award.

“We developed an empirically proven model that’s nature based for treating high-risk kids,” said Mayfield.

He began his pitch with a story of a 3 year old taken from his drug-addicted parents. After a lifetime of violent habits the boy was referred to Gateway Mountain Project as an eighth grader and is now living a healthy life. The program works to connect youth to trained mentors through school and wellness groups and is the first nature based group to be certified by Medical according to Mayfield.

Mayfield wasn’t the only one to pitch a service that would help those in need. Shelterpacks was an idea pitched by Sue Morganti as a pack that folds out into a tent. Though the pack is designed for hikers, Morganti said she hopes to supply them to those in need during crisis situations.

Another contestant pitched an online grocery store for health food. Sandra Dorst created Shop AIP to deliver non-inflammatory foods directly to your doorstep following her own encounter with a life-threatening illness. With a background in supply chain logistics Dorst said she felt confident in competing with large companies such as Amazon.

“What we really believe is we are simplifying life while on a complicated diet,” Dorst said.

Scott Radow also pitched a health-inspired business with his creation of Music Syncro, an application that syncs the beat of your music to the pace of your workout on exercise machines to encourage a more efficient workout. Though not yet fully developed he is in contact with technology consultants and electrical engineers to construct circuit boards to be placed inside exercise machines. Once assembled users can download an app that directly connects to the machine.

Other pitches included businesses that would offer services rather than products, such as Gateway Mountain Center. Mise En Place, created by Holly Verbeck, would offer education and assistance to chef’s who are forced to focus less on the food they create and more on the administrative side of the restaurant business.

Trina Gold, owner of Big Water Media, began filming youth sports and selling the footage to proud parents with advertisements attached to the film. She found a way to profit from the advertisements after the high-quality footage would be shared multiple times on social media.


All those who competed in the showcase started off in a four week camp taught by Kristin York. The camp initially hosted 22 entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pitch their companies to the Truckee community as a final goal.

Out of the 18 who finished the camp, 16 pitched their ideas to compete in the showcase and only six were accepted to present in front of an audience and judges at the event, hosted by Tahoe Silicon Mountain and the Sierra Business Council.

“This event is really all about showing off what we have going on here in Truckee and Tahoe and getting the community to rally behind that,” said Rachel Arst McCullough president of Tahoe Silicon Mountain.

“The reality is that most entrepreneurs fail and we need to be accepting of that kind of failure. We had amazing odds last year,” she said, noting all of the entrepreneurs who competed in the first showcase are still in business.

“We are just as accepting of people failing and trying again as we are of people succeeding.”

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

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