Sip & Pitch Fridays: Networking on a New Level

| By Elaine Godwin

The NGLCC Sip & Pitch Fridays program is an amazing opportunity for business owners in the community to present their ideas to a panel of experts and receive real-time feedback, constructive criticism, and an overall positive experience. Everyone is welcome and able to bring their ideas or simply participate as a viewer. No matter what, attendees gain invaluable insight into the world of business. On May 21, presenters and attendees met virtually to sip, pitch, and listen to feedback from a panel of expert judges from the NGLCC Corporate Partner Network, for the program that was sponsored by Southern California Edison. Judges for this event included Joycelyn Yue (she/her), Senior Program Manager of Southern California Edison, Valerie Shearer (she/her), Consultant of Supplier Diversity at FirstEnergy Corp, and Trevor Boylston, Global Sourcing Specialist II at Boston Scientific.

“NGLCC continues to facilitate and engage LGBTBEs and Corporations through value-added programs, like the Sip & Pitch,” said Yue. “I enjoy being able to meet new LGBTBEs and learn about their program and service offerings, while having the opportunity to help build their business acumen through offering tips and recommendations to strengthen their capabilities. Thank you, NGLCC!”

The NGLCC Sip & Pitch program is typically split into three parts, with the first two acting as presentation rounds for various businesses. After these rounds, participants and viewers are invited to casually discuss the event and any other remaining ideas. The event started with a presentation from Lendy Hensley of Bite Society, a business centered around funky and aesthetically-pleasing gift baskets. With over thirty years experience in the food industry, Bite Society demonstrated their understanding of the current market, and discussed how they have adapted to meet the needs of a wider consumer base. Bite Society now offers more than your average gift baskets, and have even extended their options to include vegans and vegetarian-friendly baskets. The judges commended Hensley on their wonderful presentation and suggested greater support for branding and representation of the company, as well as a need for greater emphasis on customizable options.

Next, Drew Ferraro pitched a polished presentation for Energy Heights Services, a energy consulting firm based in New York that operates in surrounding areas. As a Certified LGBTBE® and Energy Star Partner, Energy Heights Services offers access to clean energy in an effort to conserve resources and promote green living. Ferraro discussed how their business has obtained multiple accreditations from multiple states, giving the business the flexibility to work in multiple areas as described. Judges noted that the pitch was very informative and interesting, and suggestions for improvement included maximizing branding in future presentations.

Carlton Brown, appearing in a highly appropriate white chef’s coat, pitched his business Bon Appetit Y’all, a subscription-based business that offers a wide array of condiments and other gourmet food products. In a casual yet knowledgeable manner, Carlton showed the merits of his experience as an award-winning chef, as well as how Bon Appetit Y’all can operate across the globe to reach any consumers. Judges commented on Brown’s appetizing presentation, with feedback including greater attention to marketing and labeling, and

Ali Stoddard presented on their business Green Alley CBD, which aims to provide natural, organic CBD hemp products as a health aid. Although targeted more at the consumer rather than business partners, Stoddard’s pitch was informative and given in such a relaxing tone that the judges highlighted its merit specifically. Judges also noted that if a future goal included presenting to business partners, more qualitative data centered at the business itself would be appropriate and appreciated by the audience.

Andrew Lear of Oscar Wilde Tours presented next, and demonstrated how adaptable his business was given the hardships of COVID-19. Utilizing Zoom and other video services, Oscar Wilde Tours has been able to continue offering informative tours of one of the LGBT community’s most historical and prominent literary figures. Judges commended Lear on his obvious passion and knowledge of the business, and suggested that the quality of the presentation itself would benefit from further attention and alterations.

Due to technical and audio difficulties, Luis Robles of Aerial Zeus was unable to present, but will hopefully be back for the next installment of NGLCC’s Sip & Pitch Fridays.

After the second round of presentations, attendees were able to join breakout rooms and discuss important topics in the community and conversation portion of the evening. This edition of Sip & Pitch Friday was incredibly informative and remarkable in terms of the ideas, presentations, and businesses who attended. NGLCC would like to extend a huge thanks to Southern California Edison, Boston Scientific, and FirstEnergy Corp for their assistance and time. NGLCC greatly looks forward to the new ideas and presentations at the next Sip & Pitch on Friday, June 11!

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You can watch the full S&P program here.

Want to learn more about LGBT Sip & Pitch Fridays or apply to pitch? Click here to learn more or email [email protected] if you have any questions.