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Updates from Fast Pitch Applicants!

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The 2012  Social Innovation Fast Pitch  competition is underway! Right now, volunteer applicant screeners are viewing and scoring all 70 applications, and 40 social innovators will be announced on July 20th as Quarter Finalists to move on to the next round. Many past Social Innovation Fast Pitch teams have experienced added impact and benefits from their involvement in the Fast Pitch competition last year – we rounded up a couple of their stories to share.

Viva Farms

Viva Farms was recently featured in this NY Times article. It’s exciting to see Viva Farms getting national attention and, more importantly, to see their farmers starting to make viable profits.

Other exciting program updates include the launch of a farmer loan program with the North Coast Credit Union and Slow Money NW. The first two loans were made to Viva farmers this week!

Also, Viva Farms signed a lease with the Port of Skagit for a 7400 sqft commercial facility to be used as a food hub, a center for aggregation and distribution of local farm products. It will be one of the first in the region.

And finally, Viva Farms just finished producing a 4 minute film on Viva Farms with Reel Grrls.

Find Proz

FindProz.com is an online marketplace that enables anyone to turn their talents into a profitable teaching, tutoring, or consulting business. Their affiliate application enables them to advertise music instructors, software trainers, outdoor guides, and chemistry tutors through related local retailers. After participating in SIFP, their user base quickly grew into the thousands and they were able to secure affiliate partnerships with local music, outdoors, and textbook retailers. In January they expanded into the Southern California music industry, debuting their affiliate application at the NAMM trade show in Anaheim. FindProz is connecting music retailers and recording studios in California, Washington, and Utah with voice coaches, session musicians, and other services that customers frequently request.

Their goal is to support small business owners while enhancing the consumer retail experience. After talking to hundreds of local business owners and their customers, they have decided to open their marketplace to a wider variety of services, and they are excited to launch a major campaign this month in the homebuilding industry. FindProz has secured partnerships with local realtors, hardware stores, and nurseries to advertise home builders, architects, interior designers, and landscapers. In the coming months they will be expanding their advertising services by introducing a Facebook affiliate application,  a tablet kiosk for retailers, and SEO-optimized landing pages with rich content for local consumer audiences.

After participating in SIFP they were able to raise enough additional bridge financing to test and validate their affiliate application and explore demand for an in-store kiosk. Their competitors have been heavily penalized over the last year by changes in Google’s algorithm and they are pleased with the progress of their first tests of locally-optimized landing pages. In addition, Home Depot’s recent acquisition of RedBeacon places them in an attractive position to pursue partnerships with other nationwide home improvement retailers. In May and June, FindProz is targeting homebuilders in Washington State and plan on achieving their first major revenue milestone, before raising an equity round later in the year.

The Social Innovation Fast Pitch competition is a fast-pitch investment forum highlighting New Ideas for Social Impact. Nonprofits and for-profits compete for $150,000 in funding and the opportunity to present cutting-edge ideas to as many as 1,000 of the most engaged philanthropists and investors around Seattle on October 18th. Join in the fun!

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