Aspiring entrepreneurs and established local business owners with fresh, undeveloped ideas will have an opportunity to pitch their plans for seed funding, as the City of Globe will host a localized version of the popular show “Shark Tank” in March.
Although there will be no billionaire “sharks” on-hand, nonprofit Moonshot AZ will bring its AZ Pioneer Pitch and the opportunity to win a $10,000 prize for the best pitch in 10 rural Arizona-based communities.
“Moonshot is like Shark Tank in the sense that you’re making your best pitch to the judges to win funding, but it’s not like Shark Tank in that they’re not going to point out the weaknesses in your business plan,” says Economic and Community Development Director Linda Oddonetto. “The Moonshot team is going to work with each participant and actually help build up and guide the entrepreneur through their pitch.”
This will be the second year Kiersten and Scott Hathcock have brought the program to Globe and the pair hope to have a big turnout for the two-day competition.
“Our main objective is to boost job creation that raises livable wage levels and employment rates in local economies,” says Scott Hathcock, President and CEO of Moonshot AZ. “We want people who love their communities, and who want to support their communities by creating a better lifestyle for everyone.”
Moonshot is an Arizona-based, 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that is approaching its 23rd year of operation. Its mission is to “help subject matter experts bring products and services to market and help cities develop entrepreneurial eco-systems that create jobs.”
The Pioneer Pitch tour is in its fourth year, and will stage competitions in 10 Arizona cities, culminating in a final competition in Flagstaff on July 28. The overall winner will receive a $10,000 prize and one year’s worth of business consultation through Moonshot.
AZ Pioneer Pitch brings proven entrepreneurial success and mentorship to help diversify the local economy in partnership with the City of Globe.
Kiersten Hathcock pursued her dreams of professional independence from a dusty 400-square-foot garage workshop in her then-California home after she left the world of corporate marketing in 2003 to spend more time with her family.
As a young mother looking for a toy box her kids would actually use, she discovered there was a void in the market for modern kids furniture.
In 2006, she taught herself how to build furniture from her home and established her company Mod Moms Furniture. As word of her product made its way into the world, she suddenly found herself besieged by more work than she could accomplish on her own.
In 2010, she appeared on Shark Tank, but despite winning a bid, Hathcock spent about a year twisting in the wind after the deal fell through. The following year, she signed a deal with a manufacturer in Ohio and Mod Moms took off. She was soon selling her unique product globally and even designed a play table and chairs set for Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in early 2020.
Now the couple is dedicated to passing on the knowledge Kiersten gained from the ups and downs of her business experience. At the heart of her message is learning to pick up the pieces and turn failures into successes. Above all though, “be authentic.”
“Have the courage to stand up for what you feel is right for you, even in the face of experts,” Kiersten says. “Know your strengths and your weaknesses, but don’t give away your power.”
Local business owner Erika “Moqui” Flores and her husband Johnny D. Flores participated in the inaugural event last year, winning $1,000 to help launch a mobile smoothie cart she says hasn’t launched yet, although they have taken it to several “pop-up” events to sell Zona Ice products.
The Flores husband and wife team is already a dynamic economic engine in Globe. Together they run Zona Ice while “Johnnyd” is proprietor of Dominion Cutting Co. a popular local barber shop in the refurbished Valley National Bank building on Broad Street. Moqui Flores is co-owner of Pretty Kind Boutique as well as a part-time professor at ASU.
Despite her depth of experience in the business world, Flores says she learned a lot from her experience during the Pioneer Pitch.
“Johnny and I are always brainstorming new business ventures, but we didn’t have anything solidified when we started out last year,” she says. “The biggest benefit I got from Moonshot is the knowledge and resources they were able to point us to for what building a food truck business would look like.”
Another learning experience she received was pitching her business idea in front of a roomful of people and responding to questions about the plan.
“For someone who has been sitting on an idea and has never opened a business, this is a great opportunity to talk about your million-dollar idea,” she says. “If you are a business owner and you want to take your business to the next level, this is a great opportunity.”
AZ Pioneer Pitch offers Globe a partnership with Moonshot that fits in well with the City’s vision for future economic growth, envisioned with the establishment of the Economic and Community Development Department in 2018.
Municipal leaders have devoted resources into diversifying the economy for future sustainability, and while it is a long process, the seeds of change have been blossoming with the economic renaissance that is taking place in Globe.
“Our economic development program is really expanding and if you look at all the projects we’ve got going right now, it’s exciting to see,” says City Councilmember and former Gila County Supervisor Michael Pastor. “In my younger days I’d advocate for staying small but the times have changed. It’s important to have an economic development strategy that benefits our city.”
Pastor is also excited to see partners like Moonshot take interest in Globe and thinks this bodes well for the future.
“We want to make sure people know we’re inviting them here to do this,” he says. “If they win, it’s seed money to implement their business ideas.”
AZ Pioneer Pitch kicks off with a reception on March 9, with the main event taking place on March 10. In addition to the opportunity to represent Globe at the annual awards banquet in July, there will be second and third-place prizes and plenty of business advice for all participants.
“We’re not only doing work directly with entrepreneurs, we also work with communities to help build these ecosystems,” Hathcock says. “We love community partners like Globe, because we have to have great City staff boots on the ground to help build that momentum.”
Moonshot NACET is a 501c3 funded by contracts with municipal partners to provide these resources in their cities. The AZ Pioneer Pitch is funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield, as well as the Arizona Commerce Authority, and an organization called the CIC Community Investment Council, which provides micro loans to qualified applicants.
For more information, go to www.azpioneerpitch.org/globe, or email the City of Globe Economic Development Department at Econdev@globeaz.gov.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.