Will Investors Bet on These Entrepreneurs at the Kentucky Derby?
BY Eric Markowitz
Startup America's Scott Case has a plan to introduce young entrepreneurs to the politicians and investors on Derby Day. Here's how he's doing it.
The Race is On:Ralph Acosta, CEO of SkuRun (bottom) and Andrew Sell, founder of HipCycle are headed to the Kentucky Derby.
Startup America, the sprawling start-up initiative headed by Priceline.com CTO and co-founder Scott Case, had an idea on Monday morning: Let's take some start-ups to the Kentucky Derby.
Despite how it sounds, the idea wasn't completely random.
To explain: Startup America recently launched its Kentucky regional branch, and bringing founders to the Derby would allow the entrepreneurs to network with the Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fisher, and hob-nob with executives at the race. (I imagine there will be a mint julep or two in the picture as well.)
According to a Startup America spokesperson, the idea was actually inspired by this year's Super Bowl, when Case managed to wrangle a few start-up founders in to the Big Game. Once there, they were able to pitch their company ideas to Mark Cuban in his private suite. So why not try to recreate that scene at the Kentucky Derby?
On Monday, the Startup America team cobbled together a "Send My Founder to the Kentucky Derby Contest" promotion on their site. Founders were asked to submit one minute videos that detailed three things:
What is your company's product or service
What problem does it solve
Why your founder should go to the Kentucky Derby
There was one catch. Entries were due at 5 p.m. that afternoon.
On Tuesday, Startup America picked the winners: Ralph Acosta, CEO of SkuRun, a Los Angeles company that mobilizes sales and marketing content, and Andrew Sell, founder of HipCycle, an online marketplace for upcycled products from Ocean, New Jersey.
"I'm incredibly excited to head to Louisville with Skurun and HipCycle to check out both the honored tradition of the Derby and the vibrant, growing start-up scene in Kentucky," Case said in an e-mail.