With a name like Paul Proffitt, it’s easy to picture this Columbus-based entrepreneur helping people make money. He just wants to make sure it’s done the entrepreneurial way. In an interview Proffitt told us that he’s been a lurker in Columbus, Ohio’s tech community since the 90’s, when he worked with the now defunct Talon New Media Ventures and OnVentures incubators. Since then Proffitt has been working in higher-ed and digital marketing.
In 2006 though, he got re-bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when his team took second place at the OSU business plan competition for a biodiesel startup. Nowadays you can find Proffitt at Columbus State Community College where he is an adjunct faculty member and being a judge and mentor for the OSU Business Plan Competition. With all that experience Proffit wanted to do something even more.
Proffitt has created a monthly pitch focused startup event called Sundown Rundown. These aren’t business card pushing events. Sundown Rundown calls for 5 minute pitches with 5 minutes of feedback, and startups are vetted in advance. Sundown Rundown connects investors, mentors, and talent across the Columbus region.
We got a chance to talk with Proffitt about Sundown Rundown.
What does your company do?
We are a monthly evening business idea pitch event series that connects entrepreneurs with investors, mentors, and talent to help get their companies to the next step.
Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds
Paul Proffitt – A lurker in the Central Ohio Entrepreneurship scene since the late 1990s who had worked with now defunct Columbus based incubators Talon New Media Ventures and OnVentures. Got bit by the entrepreneurial bug in 2006 when his team took second place at the OSU Business Plan Competition for a biodiesel startup. Besides having full-time gigs in higher-ed and in digital marketing, he spends his remaining professional time being an adjunct faculty member at Columbus State Community College and acts as a judge and mentor for the OSU Business Plan Competition.
What’s the startup scene like in Columbus?
Its growing. There was some progress in the late 1990s, but the dot com bubble forced a reboot in the early 2000s. The state figured they needed to diversify their economy and created the Third Frontier Fund and state money backed, private non-profit incubators started popping up.
At best the startup scene is fragmented. A lot of attention is paid to those low investment, potential high return software based startups and capital intensive, long development medical and bio tech. Nothing solid right now in the middle, small to mid-sized business startups.
What problem do you solve?
Trying to defragment the scene and get a self-sustaining community running in Central Ohio to help bring good business ideas to the forefront regardless of their industry.
It feels right… if you take your shoes off and stand in the grass you can feel the karma starting to align in Central Ohio… it could go good or bad at this point… say the same set of factors happen around the 2000s. I kind of want to help put Central Ohio in a position this time for something good to happen and not have another reboot that will take another 15 years to get to another make or break point.
What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?
We’ve established credibility in the Central Ohio entrepreneurial community as something that can be trusted to give people a fair shake at getting an idea out into the community. Showing we don’t play favorites for people who come in and pitch. We’ve got an audience that shows up and we have interest in people wanting to pitch their ideas each month.
What are your next milestones?
Keep growing…. The bar we hold the event at holds, 150 people. We would love to have to find a bigger place at some point.
Get funding for this events. We do it on a shoestring and right now the rental for the space is the biggest cost.
Where can people find out more?
Checkout this huge national startup event in Cincinnati Ohio.