The NGLCC Sip & Pitch Fridays program is a chance for LGBT business owners to informally present their business to a panel of experts and their fellow business owners for positive, constructive feedback and new ideas. On July 17, attendees from across the country gathered virtually to listen to six business pitches and engage in constructive conversations. The Sip & Pitch Presenting Partner of this week was NGLCC Corporate Partner Southern California Edison, represented by Tarrance Frierson, Head of Supplier Diversity and Development. Tarrance remarked to the huge virtual crowd: “I am truly enjoying Sip & Pitch. This is my first one and it has just been amazing. At Southern California Edison we are pleased to partner with the NGLCC and we share their commitment to advance opportunities for LGBT owned firms. Our sponsorship today of the Sip & Pitch aligns very directly with an important part of our program, which is supplier development.”
Alongside Tarrance, this week’s judges included Lisa Castillo, Senior Manager of Global Supplier Diversity at AT&T, and Laurinda Thomas, Director of Supplier Diversity at ADP.
Sip & Pitch is composed of two rounds, with three businesses presenting in each. In the first round, representatives from Flipstik, Brightwork Consulting, and Rex Wilde Consulting each pitched their businesses. Akeem Shannon, founder of Flipstik, led with a dynamic demonstration of his product, an adhesive phone kickstand. After describing his business and product, Akeem showed his Zoom audience just how durable Flipstik’s adhesive was by subjecting it to lint, and then sticking it back to the wall! The judges were impressed with his interactive presentation and clientele list, which includes Snoop Dogg and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Next up was Shannan Epps, founder & CEO of Brightwork Consulting. Shannan’s firm, which specializes in change management, is leading the implementation of Microsoft Teams and other technologies in virtual workspaces throughout this unprecedented increase in working from home. The judges noted that Brightwork Consulting fulfills a special niche now more than ever, especially as the change to virtual teamwork continues to require specialized management.
Rex Wilde of Rex Wilde Consulting concluded the first round with a bang. Rex’s firm empowers workplaces to create transgender inclusivity through expert guidance and education, including workshops and consulting. Their discussion of the corporate social responsibility to ensure the safety and equity of all of their employees struck a tone with each of the judges. At the end of the round, the judges agreed that each business had provided them with some fantastic takeaways, and were looking forward to determining whether they were a good fit for their own corporations.
Round 2 featured presentations from another three outstanding LGBT-owned businesses. Jessica Riley, founder & CEO of Pilothouse Communications, kicked off the round with her tech expertise. Pilothouse Communications works to help IT departments across a wide variety of companies manage their costs and increase their revenues. This is accomplished through a cloud-based business communication system, as well as cloud-based data and security solutions implemented by Jessica’s team. As productivity losses resulting from poor communications systems can cost businesses significantly, the judges agreed that Jessica’s business is more relevant than ever as companies increasingly turn to cloud-based solutions.
Norel Mancuso, President & CEO of Social House, pitched her business next. Social House is a strategic marketing group that works to transform social media marketing into a cultural dialogue through their tried and true “TriVision Approach.” This approach combines content creation, influencer management, and paid media placements to make the most out of social media networks and allow Social House clients to reach a wider audience. The judges were especially impressed with her visually stunning presentation and discussion of such a unique approach.
Micaela Mack closed out the final round with a pitch for All Creation, an early education preschool program that would strive to provide an equitable educational experience for all backgrounds and identities. It would utilize faith based guidance and mindfulness practices, among other strategies, to aid in child development in a nurturing environment. Following the pitch, Tarrance offered to facilitate some connections for Micaela, and the rest of the judges joined suit in commending her presentation.
Following the two pitch rounds, attendees engaged in Community & Conversation, an opportunity to discuss ideas and get to know each other better. Some of the breakout activities included splitting into teams and coming up with a catchphrase or tagline about why voting matters to the LGBT business community, in line with NGLCC’s recent LGBT Get Out The Vote initiative. One standout read, “Tired of Orange? Then Get Out and VOTE! Complete the RAINBOW!” Others pushed to “Queer The Vote,” and to emphasize that we are “Louder Together! Your Business is Our Business!”
The final breakout asked participants to come up with questions they had about business pitches, which were then shared with and answered by panel experts during So You Think You Can Pitch as a part of NGLCC’s Webinar Wednesday program.