Incubation Station Entrepreneurs Showcase Their Products
June 12, 2013 by 1 Comment
By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Among the presenters at the Incubation Station Showcase Tuesday night were a women’s apparel company that employs African women to make beautiful necklaces out of melted bullet casings, a cider company that sells the fastest growing drink in the U.S., a company that imbues peas with the flavors of the world, a vegetarian burger with no fillers, a salsa company called Texas Texas, and a company that sells men’s wipes.
The Austin room of the Bob Bullock Museum was filled as graduates of the Incubation Station presented their products, looking for investment dollars. Steven Tomlinson of Acton School of Entrepreneurship gave an inspiring speech about entrepreneurs combining what they love and get lost in, what they’re good at and what the world needs–against the challenges of culture, scaling and urgency.
If they’re not engaged, he joked, entreprene urs are just “a bunch of cranky unemployed people looking for something to do. If we don’t give them something to do they’re going to start robbing liquor stores.”
The key to remaining passionate in entrepreneurship is remembering the people you’re trying to serve, Tomlinson said. Culture, scaling and urgency just produce an adrenaline rush of fear that produces little. But engaging with the people you’re trying to help causes the brain to fire in the same multifarious way that play does. And that’s what entrepreneurs must keep alive.
The six presenting companies each had several Incubation Station mentors for their consumer packaged goods companies and each had a highly polished pitch presentation, leaving few questions in the audience besides the ubiquitous: What keeps you up at night?
Raven + Lily, a socially-conscious fashion and jewelry company, employs women in Ethiopia, Cambodia, India and homeless women in the U.S. to make eco-friendly, fair trade products including jewelry, clothing and soy candles. The company projected annual sales of $770,000 for 2013 and $10 million by 2017. Its gross profit margins for 2012 were 55 percent.
Goodseed makes vegetarian burgers using hemp seed, sprouted lentils, sunflower and chia seeds and other ingredients not including the wheat, corn, dairy and eggs incorporated in its competitors’ burgers. Currently the company makes the burgers by hand and is looking for $700,000 to automate to meet distribution demand. It projects revenues of $290,000 for 2013 and $9.6 million by 2017.
World Peas makes snacks out of peas in seven international flavors. Founder Anish Sheth, a corporate attorney by day, has created the company all on his own and has increased sales from $33,300 in 2012 to nearly $147,000 for the first half of 2013. He projects revenues of nearly $15 million by 2017.
Sanderson Specialty Foods is a profitable company that makes Texas Texas brand salsas and barbecue sauces. The company had 2012 sales of $1.4 million but was looking for $500,000 for sales reps and increased distribution. One investor asked why the company didn’t go for a line of credit.
Co-founder Brian Sanderson responded “We explored both options, the line of credit versus an investor and we are also seeking knowledge to help us grow. You don’t necessarily get that from a bank.”
Austin Eastciders is capitalizing on a skyrocketing growth in the alcoholic cider industry which it said has has grown by about 70 percent since 2009. Founder Ed Gibson started a cider bar in Bristol, UK seven years ago. The business is profitable, but when he visited Austin he fell in love and found a way to move here. Gibson said the company is the only U.S. cider maker using cider apples versus eating apples which makes a huge difference to the taste. The company has received $300,000 in finding but is looking for $350,000 for its production site and sales and marketing primarily.
Arguably the most entertaining pitch was for Dude Wipes, a division of Dude Products, created by several Chicago transplants with a combination of sales and engineering, data and risk modeling, banking and manufacturing. Capitalizing on a growing trend for men to avoid certain “laundry issues we won’t go into here,” Dude Wipes replace what is commonly and erroneously referred to as “facial tissues.” The company, which taped a portable packet of the wipes under each chair, projects nearly $90,000 in sales for 2013 with a 2018 exit of $15.6 million.