Startups pitch businesses to prospective investors


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The FITZ Flask is a water bottle that comes with a removable container into which water may be poured, so that both dogs and their owners can enjoy a drink from the same supply of water.

Marc Rigsby of Charleston gives a presentation during Demo Day for the TEN50 on Tuesday at Robert C. Byrd Institute in Huntington.
(Herald-Dispatch photo by Lori Wolfe)

“It’s a great product for outdoor enthusiasts that want to take their dog with them on their outdoor adventures,” said Marc Rigsby on Tuesday during “Demo Day for Ten50” at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington.

Jamie Cope, the deputy director at RCBI, said individuals apply to attend the Ten50 business accelerator program and then spend three months preparing their business for launch.

“In that three-month period, they do a lot of research as well as continuing their intense efforts in developing and creating their products or services,” Cope said. “Ten50 Director Bryan Shaw, a successful entrepreneur himself and a former business coach, coordinates these efforts.”

Rigsby, a Charleston attorney with Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, said he would not have been able to get his idea to market without the business programs offered at RCBI.

“The design, engineering, prototyping and technical assistance provided by Ten50 really sets it apart,” he explained. “They helped me to get the 3D printing and prototype of the bottle. The program has really helped with the marketing side of things as well.”

Rigsby was one of eight entrepreneurs seeking financing from potential investors and community supporters.

Blake Oliver, of Charleston, pitched “Sky Vision Imagery,” which is an aerial imaging company that specializes in capturing aerial data using UAV or drones to help companies obtain information more efficiently and for less cost.

“The goal is to make aerial photography available to everyone by using FAA-licensed and insured pilots to collect low altitude, high-resolution images,” he said.

Others making pitches included Nima Shahab Shamir, of Lewisburg, for “Future Fungi,” which is environmentally sustainable packaging grown in just two weeks from the roots of fungi; Gary Bohm, of Huntington, pitched “Expense Assist,” a proprietary software that helps organizations and executives decrease spending and increase value; Jordan Masters, of Morgantown, pitched “Micro Produce,” which is an agricultural technology company focusing on specialty crop production; and Scott Underwood, of Bridgeport, who pitched “Mountain State Outdoor Products LLC.” Underwood’s goal is to design and market a variety of products to help hunters and outdoor enthusiasts secure their equipment while out in the field.

“Our group is local investors that have put our money together to invest in entrepreneurial startups,” he said.

Thompson said RCBI’s business accelerator program is one of the best in the nation and it helps create new jobs in the Tri-State.

“They are doing a great job at helping entrepreneurs get to that next stage,” he said.

RCBI has partnered with the Global Accelerator Network, an organization founded in 2010 to link accelerators across the globe. Since then more than 3,300 startups have participated in these accelerators, raising more than $4 billion in funding and generating more than 20,000 jobs, officials said.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.

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