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Entrepreneurs to vie in Schweitzer pitch contest

Thu., March 8, 2012

Organizers of the Chairlift Pitch Contest want to spin the idea of the elevator pitch into something more quintessentially Sandpoint.

Next Thursday they’ll send seven area business owners to the top of Schweitzer Mountain on a quad chair. Each will have eight minutes to pitch his or her business to three judges riding along. The goal: convincing them the business should be the contest winner.

One will win $1,000, free downtown office space for six months and free business counseling.

Known for its tourism and outdoor attractions, Sandpoint is using the contest as a way to build grass-roots interest in helping young businesses grow and add jobs.

The idea came from Mark Rivers, Sandpoint’s downtown economic development director.

“We wanted to elevate the stature of Sandpoint in a way that’s distinctive, local and truly Sandpoint,” Rivers said. “What better way than to use one of the country’s best mountains?”

Entrepreneurs use elevator pitches as a way to enlist investors or bankers to finance a fledgling company. An elevator pitch should only last as long as a typical elevator ride.

The chairlift rides start at 9 a.m. The winner will be announced at an 11:30 a.m. reception at Schweitzer Mountain Lodge.

To compete, the firms have to be focused on outdoor activity, recreation or hospitality. Sandpoint Forward, the group sponsoring the contest, chose seven finalists from 21 entries. They include an outdoor coupon company, a maker of custom-designed wood skis and a Web company selling outdoor clothing for kids.

Doug Faaude, who runs the online clothing site,, said the cash prize is not as important as the chance to forge closer ties to the Sandpoint business community.

“The money isn’t that much, but the contest is a great way to generate more interest about Sandpoint,” he said. “I really like the idea of connecting with other Sandpoint business owners.”

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