Pitching your company at 1200 feet could be a daunting task for any entrepreneur. But, for Rod Rakic of Open Airplane, it was second nature.
“As a pilot, the view of the skyline of Chicago is something I’m pretty familiar with. The ironic part of it was to talk about how we [Open Airplane] enable access to general aviation, and how that is really a magic power,” Rakic said.
As part of the inaugural FUND Conference, finalists pitched their ideas to judges, while hovering over Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive. Out of 100 competing start-ups, Open Airplane flew away victoriously.
Open Airplane is a Chicago based company, which makes the process of renting airplanes simpler for pilots. “We started the company with the idea to make every pilot’s certificate a little more valuable. We can help people, who own airplanes, increase the utilization of these very expensive assets,” Co-founder, Rod Rakic said.
The FUND Conference was excited to open its doors to growing companies and early stage investors. Held at the UIC Forum, FUND set out to serve as an invaluable platform for entrepreneurs. Along with the competition, FUND hosted panel discussions, keynote presentations, and endless networking opportunities.
ParadigmNEXT had a couple clients in attendance. Page Vault accommodates legal professionals, by archiving web page content. Also, PaletteApp which has transformed the way commercial construction industry experts research and find architectural products & materials.
ParadigmNEXT Client PageVault at #JointheFUND
ParadigmNEXT’s managing partner, Anatoly Nirshberg, attended the event, and saw the value for start-ups to participate. “Chicago has a tremendous amount of great start-ups, and giving them a forum to present their ideas and meet other like minded individuals is something that is very much in demand,” Nirshberg said.
When entrepreneurs are seeking an investment, just as hundreds were at FUND, it’s crucial for the company to make a lasting impression. Anatoly Nirshberg, aside from being an attendee, helped with preliminary judging as well. There was specific criteria and questions Nirshberg considered, when judging.
“Viability– How viable is the company’s business model? Can it generate revenue? Is the revenue model defined and plausible?
Customer Validation– Has the team identified a customer base? (Demographics, locations, lifetime-value, etc.) Is there a clear value proposition?
Technical– Is there a functional product or service? (e.g. Do they have infrastructure? Do they have a working product or application?
Aesthetic– Does the company possess a sound look and feel? Is the brand easily identifiable? Does it have a compelling image?” Nirshberg said.
The FUND Conference proved to be a great event for the startup community, and it demonstrates why Chicago is becoming a prominent hub for eager entrepreneurs. With a growing interest in Tech startups, Nirshberg predicts that Chicago will become a destination for companies and investors with revenue focused models.
“I see Chicago becoming the next Tech Hub for companies with sound financial models and Midwest work ethic. This will draw in more and more talent from both the coasts while retaining the local talent here in the Windy City,” Nirshberg said.
By: Aaron Rosen of ParadigmNext https://paradigmnext.com
ParadigmNEXT, Inc. is a new kind of marketing agency that integrates the two sides of the brain: strategic communications and business know-how. Connecting creativity with expertise in multiple industries, we are able to deliver measurable improvements and maximum impact.