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Competitors locked in for 757Pitch

Five competitors will only have seven minutes each in front of a panel of judges — seven minutes for each business to explain why its product or service should be victorious.

But what’s the key to a successful pitch? Chris Noyes, entrepreneur and co-founder of Kitchen B2B with Chris Arney, said the trick is to keep it simple.

“If you only have seven minutes for someone to understand your business model, then keep it focused and simple,” Noyes said in a phone interview. “If you can finish it in two minutes, you’re better off.”

Kitchen B2B and four other Hampton Roads businesses will be competing for cash prizes and services when 757Pitch makes its Suffolk debut this Tuesday. The competition will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 17 at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave., and spectators are welcome.

757Pitch is presented bi-monthly by Old Dominion University, Startwheel.org and other sponsors. Five independent ventures each have seven minutes to pitch their ideas in a “Shark Tank”-like format to a panel of judges, including Neighborhood Harvest President Thomas Vandiver, Mills Marine & Ship Repair President Donald Mills, Main Event Co-Founder Mike Smith and Dan Curran, owner of the Chick-fil-A on College Drive.

Each pitch will be evaluated on a 10,000-point scale, and the winner will be awarded $757, along with access to resources at ODU’s Center for Enterprise Innovation in Norfolk to help develop the ideas into a marketable solution that can become a sustainable business, according to 757pitch.org.

“It gives them an opportunity to practice their seven-minute speech to venture capitalists and potential partners, and also get the word out to people that may be interested in their products and their service,” Richard Chaing, owner of Suffolk Executive Offices and co-sponsor for 757Pitch, said in a phone interview.

The competitors intend to make their mark in coffee, comfort food and kitchen space. ChowReach offers a platform for restaurants to have iOS and Android apps built at cheaper rates and maintained by a team of engineers. Mouth Meets South intends to fill a void in the frozen food section of grocery stores with savory soul food meals that just require minutes in the microwave.

KitchenB2B is an online marketplace for local kitchen, event and storage spaces categorized by rates, reviews and amenities. Noyes said he got the idea after hearing so many complain at conventions about the hassles of renting spaces without a trading platform like this.

“My suggestion was, ‘why don’t you create the A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌ for commercial kitchens and event spaces,’” he said.

He’s also chief executive officer of Assay on Wheels, managing partner of Clearly-You Inc. and has decades of entrepreneurship experience. He said competitions like 757Pitch support localized growth in the start-up industry.

“This area is lacking a start-up community, but this helps,” he said.

The final two competitors will present two very different takes on the favorite beverage for American workers. The Specialty Club aims to provide the best possible coffee experiences by working directly with farmers in Colombia where quality control is assured throughout the entire process, from selection to transport.

“Special coffee refers to coffee that comes from a specific region, and due to its source and production, acquires a unique flavor,” according to the company website. “Based on production methods and quality control stipulations, Mova Corp selected four farms. Mova Corp works directly with these farms to ensure that your coffee is of the highest quality.

Founder Mauricio Mova moved his company from New Jersey to Virginia Beach in December and is working with his team to fine tune their presentation for Tuesday while preparing for their official opening this August.

“Ever since we came here to Virginia Beach, we wanted to be part of the community as much as we could and get our name out,” he said in a phone interview. “This is very good as far as that.”

James Harrell’s Virginia Gold has a different idea on how to make an excellent cup of coffee. Its trademark is Peanut Coffee, the first beverage of its kind that’s primarily composed of peanuts, with manufacturing processes pioneered and patented by the company.

Harrell emphasized that this non-caffeinated product is not peanut-flavored. It’s simply a tasty beverage that’s produced with extremely cost-effective materials produced in the United States that should entice investors, he said, with plans to add caffeinated options and other varieties down the line.

He’s fifth-generation in a family of peanut farmers, and this is his way forward.

“I’m taking this domestic crop and adding a ton of value to it,” he said in a phone interview.

He explained that his challenge will be to make his nutty pitch succinct yet educational.

“The patent encompasses new methods to produce a new substance, and it’s more than just a ground-up roasted peanut,” he said. “I’ll need to educating them on what exactly it is and how it can be competitive in the marketplace beside specialty coffee and teas.”

Visit 757pitch.org for more information.