Sip & Pitch: Pride 2021 Edition

| By Elaine Godwin

On Friday, June 11th, NGLCC presented another installment of Sip & Pitch, where LGBT business owners can present their ideas and receive helpful feedback. Sip & Pitch programs are split into two rounds of presentations, with a short intermission in between. This week’s judges were Jeanne McLaughlin (she/her), Head of US Marketing at Tradeweb, Kimberly Marcus (she/her), Director of Supplier Diversity at AARP, and Lou Rosas (he/him), Director of Supplier Inclusion at Robert Half. NGLCC Senior Vice President Sabrina Kent (she/her) welcomed everyone to the event and introduced the aforementioned judges.

The first company presenting in Round One was Florida Pure Sea Salt, a Certified LGBTBE® and small batch natural mineral company founded by Maureen Cacioppo (she/her). As Cacioppo described, her company focuses on having a low environmental impact while maintaining high quality salts. Cacioppo’s presentation was professional and well-rounded; it remained both interesting and informative. Social responsibility is a large part of Florida Pure Sea Salt, and as such, they belong to multiple organizations focused on social and environmental improvement.

Next was Cyrus Golestan (he/him) of Other is a Myth, a company based around “apparel designed to destigmatize differences and amplify allyship.” Golestan explained that his business’s mission is to erase myths of otherness that are used to justify prejudice and hate. His business is both sustainably sourced and a 100% owned-trans company; as such, they focus on the trans community, even granting awards to TGNC BIPOC folk for transition funding purposes. Golestan described the apparel of Other is a Myth as simple but with bold and thought-provoking ideas, creating a unique sense of style.

Overall, the judges appreciated the pitches, and suggested an increase in enthusiasm is always beneficial, as well as more attention to a five-year plan or possible marketing for other companies. Judges noted that they very much enjoyed the business concepts of both presenters, and congratulated them each on their dedication and perseverance. Possible areas of increased improvement were connections and pitches on the corporate level, and marketing towards a greater audience.

Between round one and two, Sabrina Kent offered a moment of discussion for the judges in order to offer more advice and insight to the presenters. Lou Rosas emphasized practice as an essential component, as well as having fun to most effectively show one’s ideas. Kimberly Marcus again offered marketing as a great tool, and suggested ways that could drive the presenters’ pitches to other corporations. Jeanne McLaughin added that marketing was indeed important, as well as proper timing and attention to corporate possibilities.

Kent then asked the judges their opinion on Pride, and how one could better support LGBTQ+ businesses during this time and beyond. Kimberly Marcus discussed how engagement was typically limited to Pride and holidays, but attention to communication could increase this. Jeanne McLaughlin agreed, and suggested multiple points of contact to create more overall connections. Lou Rosas noted that many corporations are still making these connections to LGBT-owned businesses, and that NGLCC offered a great opportunity of support and certifications.

After a short intermission, the second round was kicked off with Todd Cazin of FUEL, a business coworking space coming to San Diego in September 2021. FUEL is committed to growing LGBTQ+ businesses and offering a safe and inclusive workplace for the community. As Cazin explained, FUEL has two phases; the initial one being the space itself, and the second taking the form of a business development program. FUEL’s goals included gaining more locations and raising brand awareness through networking and events.

Judges commended the research and development that Cazin had conducted, and saw potential in the overall business plan and ideas. One area of possible improvement suggested was greater detail surrounding the business development and incubation portion of the presentation.

Next up was Jordan Parkins (she/her), President and CEO of Parkins Data Science and Analytics Inc., a business dedicated to providing quality data science analytical services. Promoting collaboration is one of Parkin’s core values, as well as ensuring transparency with their customers and providing both quality and efficiency.

Adrian Hill (he/him) of Evolution Aura closed out the second round, and represented his luxury fragrance company. Evolution Aura’s mission includes uplifting communities in need, and Hill is dedicated to fulfilling this mission “one initiative at a time.” In order to achieve this, 20 percent of every purchase at Evolution Aura goes directly towards community funding and support.

NGLCC would like to extend a special thanks to Florida Pure Sea Salt, Other is a Myth, FUEL, Parkins Data Science and Analytics Inc., and Evolution Aura for their participation as presenters. As always, we are greatly appreciative to our panel of judges, and would like to thank AARP, Robert Half, and Tradeweb as well. Please join NGLCC for our next Sip & Pitch event on July 16th at 3pm ET!

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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.