February 13, 2017

By Rob Townsley

I work in a firm that usually provides legal services for startups and entrepreneurs, but pitching my own business idea in the UberPITCH startup competition last month was something I couldn’t pass up. UberPITCH, was a hybrid of the shows Shark Tank and CashCab. Call an Uber, and instead of a driver, a venture capitalist (VC) is delivered to your doorstep, and I had seven minutes to pitch my startup. The grand prize was five thousand dollars cash! And it was the first time Uber was in Buffalo, through a partnership with 43North.

After practicing my pitch in the morning and running it by a few colleagues at Colligan Law, I was ready to request my Uber and try to win $5,000! I opened the app and discovered that all the UberPITCH vehicles were in use and I would have to wait a while for my ride to arrive. It was a testament to the popularity of the mini startup competition, and also made me look forward to the day when the Uber is operating and available in Buffalo, with minimal wait times.

When my Uber arrived, I met my VC and the real fun began. My practice had paid off and what started as a general business idea that morning was now a well thought out presentation with a solid business model behind it. I finished my pitch in an exhilarating six minutes. My VC was impressed by the flow and presentation, which I considered a rousing success, considering it was hardly more than an idea when I walked into the office that morning.

UberPITCH gave me insight into the work we do with our clients. Entrepreneurs need experts in the ecosystem – like my VC – to hone their business idea. And the amount of resources available to startups in our region has never been greater.

Unluckily, I was not selected to win the $5,000, but on the bright side, Channel 4 aired footage of my pitch on their 6 o’clock news. Watch that segment and read more about the UberPitch competition here. As for what my pitch idea actually was…Well, you’ll have to either watch the news segment or call my office. But needless to say it will revolutionize the way you watch and enjoy televised sports forever!

Rob is an associate at Colligan Law LLP—a boutique law firm providing legal services to entrepreneurs and cutting-edge businesses. Rob’s practice area relates primarily to natural resources, environmental, and corporate law