It all began over coffee, as some of the best ideas do…
What if The Portland Maker Scene had a love affair with the television show Shark Tank? What if Design Museum Portland produced it? We could bring together the best makers and entrepreneurs on the Portland scene and pack the audience full of design enthusiasts, funders, and business strategists. We could highlight all the amazing things that are happening right here in PDX and help kickstart a new business launch in the process. We could even film it all and create our own show! And thus, Product Pitch Party was born…
On Thursday, July 28 these dreams became a reality. The studio at Nemo Design was filled with Portlanders on a mission to eat, drink, and be witness to the four finalists of our epic product design competition, Product Pitch Party, pitching their innovative products in front of a panel of expert judges and a live studio audience. Our judges included Kelley Roy from Portland Made and ADX, Katherine Krajnak from the Portland Development Commission, Ken Tomita from Grovemade, and Anna Thames from the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Our host, fellow Designer and stand-up Comedian, Melody Rowell, began entertaining our guests as soon as the lights went up, and let me tell you there was no shortage of comedic material. Firebox Audio set the mood for our audience and 20 something couples everywhere with its sexy dancing flames set to music, while nut jokes were the flavor of the evening thanks to Goodnuss and their nut milking contraption.
Each of our finalists had five minutes to present their products and make the case for why they should walk away with mentorship, bragging rights, a magazine feature in our upcoming Design Impact Magazine, and a cash prize! In this short time they had to tell us about their product, the need it meets, their go-to-market strategy, and how they plan to scale it. Five minutes really isn’t a lot of time, especially when you have so much to say, but each finalist left us with an incredible vision of their design and their company.
First up was Waaypoint. Founder Benjamin Coughlin describes Waaypoint as a physical totem reminding you where you’re from or where you live. It uses USGS data and 3D printing to create topographically accurate recreations of culturally relevant landmarks. These landmarks are then cast into wearable jewelry. Benjamin pitched his product to our judging panel, connecting them to the meaning within the places we live and visit. He described his own journey of moving to a new city and how the geography of that place became incredibly important to him. He designed Waaypoint as a way to provide people with a physical reminder of those places they hold most dear, even for people who don’t typically wear jewelry. Ben definitely impressed our judges with the quality and character of his pieces!
Next up was Lizz Hampton at Goodnuss. She believes her product will change the nut milking game by streamlining the nut milking process. It is the first cold-press nut milking device for the home that is simple to use, easy to clean, and does not require any electricity! If any of you have ever attempted to make nut milk at home then you know it can be a messy and time consuming process. Goodnuss has taken care of all of that. Simply put your pulp and water into the nut milking machine and twist. Voila! No nut milking bags, no squeezing, and no mess! Lizz and her partner plan to continue to grow their business into the alternative health market, targeting non dairy consumers, as well as those folks who know that drinking fresh really is the best!
Up next was Chris Tobias with the innovative Shower Flower. The Shower Flower makes saving water fun for kids and adults alike by using colorful lights to help you make better choices about how long you stay in the shower. The Shower Flower has a set of lights that count down from green to red depending on the amount of water you program it to use – and it never needs batteries. Chris made a compelling case about wasted water due to showers, and how without addressing this problem it will only get worse. He is interested in working with water challenged communities like Los Angeles County to run pilot programs that will test how this product might make a difference in overall water consumption. He also has plans to partner with large box retailers such as Lowes or Home Depot to leverage the infrastructure they already have in place to reduce costs and save time in production.
Our last product came from Tyrone Hazen, whose product, the Fireside Audio Box, is a battery powered, propane fueled, bluetooth enabled audio system that syncs dancing flames to your music! As Tyrone presented his product to the judges, the flames of his audio box danced right along on stage. Tyrone spoke about his hopes to break into the niche’ audio accessories market with this product and use it as a launching point for an entire line of Fireside Audio Box designs. He is a self taught maker, who is thankful to still have both hands in tact after all the iterations it took to get the Fireside Audiobox made. He wants us all to light our music on fire!
So now that we’d heard from all the finalists, who will be crowned winner? To answer this the judges had to deliberate, and the audience had no choice but to wait – and party! That’s right, we served up pizza courtesy of our friends at HOTLIPS Pizza, while Hopworks Urban Brewery and PDXWine provided us with an incredible variety of wine and beer – everything we needed for an amazing evening!
Soon enough the votes were in and a gigantic novelty check was being delivered to our winner – GOODNUSS! Yep, that’s right, the judges saw the potential in (t) @goodnuss (ig) @milkyournuts. The product met a need, they are in a sweet spot of production, and of course they have all the right nut jokes! Lizz got to walk away with a $2500 cash prize, 6 months of mentorship from each of our judges, bragging rights, and a magazine feature. She was one happy lady.
Now we wait for the episode to air… Don’t worry, we won’t make you wait too long!
Penned by Stephanie Younger, Design Museum Portland
See the Photos from Product Pitch Party
Hear the Playlist from Product Pitch Party
Talk to us about Product Pitch Party at firstname.lastname@example.org
Product Pitch Party was made possible by generous support from:
Tech • A/V • Staging:
Special Thanks to: