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Pitching Under The Influence: Startup Ideas, Laughter and Booze with Drunk Pitch


Jacqueline Rinehardt, Founder of Drunk Pitch

Jacqueline Rinehardt, Founder of Drunk Pitch

By Elio Harmon, Founder of 614Startups

I have Netflix, Hulu, Prime TV, YouTube, and IGTV and sometimes I still struggle to find something to watch. Then came the pilot for Drunk Pitch and I may have found my new not-guilty pleasure. Drunk Pitch marries three things I love; business ideas, laughter, and that drank.  

So I got tipsy and decided to reach out to Jacqueline Rinehardt, creator of Drunk Pitch for this interview. Let’s get litty. 

First things first, how are you managing with COVID-19 and shelter-in-place? 

It’s definitely been an adjustment going from spending my time after work networking and my weekends checking out restaurants and bars to virtual happy hours and trying to cook but I’m slowly finding a new normal for now.  Can’t wait to see how things adapt, the potential for innovation is really exciting.

Where did the idea for Drunk Pitch come from and was it always destined to be a TV show? 

Drunk Pitch started as an idea to bring the startup and VC community together to network in a way more relaxed environment. I was SO exhausted spending so much time at networking events trying to perfect my 30 second elevator pitch and sharing it with whatever executive I could get to listen, the whole process seemed a bit too unauthentic and It was draining. So I thought, hey let’s gather the same people that would be at these events and create one rule: you can’t pitch your livelihood. We called it “Open Mic night for entrepreneurs”. The first event was so much fun we heard 12 pitches (8 actually followed the guidelines, a couple used it as a way to get their business in front of the crowd so I quickly implemented a screening process), we gathered about 75 people and the appeal was way broader than just the startup community.  I knew it had to turn into an entire Columbus community event. 

I didn’t originally plan to make it into a TV Series but after the second event I started working toward that as a goal.  People began to ask for live streaming of the content and it was the first time someone compared it to “Drunk History meets Shark Tank”.  That comment had a huge impression on me so I immediately started navigating through how to take my live event and turn it into reality TV. 

I had a few hiccups with the video process and had no idea how big of an undertaking it would be to get the quality of audio and video needed to make a pilot.  By the 6th event (Jan 23) we nailed it and have been in edit mode since then. 

How do you pick the founders that pitch and how do you detect a sober, tipsy or true drunk pitch? 

It’s a mix of people I personally reached out to who I knew would be great and people reaching out to me. This last event was evenly split between new people who heard about the event and wanted to share a Drunk Pitch and past presenters looking for another win under their belt with a fresh new idea.  Entrepreneurs do this for a living, and if you look at the life of some of these founders as an outsider, it can be pretty funny.  As a tech founder myself, you have to learn to laugh at yourself every now and then. 

We do 2 awards after the pitches are finished: Drunkest Pitch and Judges Favorite.  The Drunkest Pitch is for the craziest, most far-out ideas.  Drinking is not a requirement at Drunk Pitch, all though free booze is a great perk and a fun addition to the evening, I use the word drunk to convey a laid back environment and emphasize the non-serious nature of the pitches. 

We have seen people on the full spectrum of sober – drunk while presenting, but that doesn’t impact the chances to win! 

What’s the most hammered or hungover you have ever been in a business setting? 

Haha. I try to keep full composure in the business setting but if margaritas or dirty martinis are served, I have occasionally had one too many.  Actually this happened at the after-after party at the very first drunk pitch at Due Amici. April 23rd, 2019.  I guess we all knew this was about to be something big and celebrated too hard.

Where can people watch the pilot and what’s next for Drunk Pitch? 

Everyone is welcome to watch the pilot at www.drunkpitch.co/thepilot ! My goal is for the pilot to get picked up by a network or streaming platform, any and all connections are welcomed and encouraged πŸ™‚

We have a virtual happy hour event on May 11th with Gerber Communications to brainstorm innovative and silly ways to make social distancing more enjoyable.  I hope that the attendees are able to use humor through the Drunk Pitches as a way to start conversations towards innovation and pivoting businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.

There you have it. So grab a drink and some popcorn and check out Drunk Pitch. Then drink some more, write down your pitch idea before you fall asleep and dream about being a contestant on the next episode of Drunk Pitch.

Elio

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