Grand Valley graduate takes a new direction

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Kat (Samardzija) Weaver isn’t one to sit still when she could be building something new.

Weaver founded locker lifestyle — an e-commerce retailer that makes and sells products to securely store cash, keys, IDs and phones — in 2017 while a sophomore at Grand Valley State University.

In March, she sold the business to a New Jersey-based limited company.

The business journal Featured Weaver when she was new to her professional career, then honored her as Newsmaker of the Year 2018 in the startup category, then reported on her business when she pivoted at the start of the pandemic to make headbands that face masks could plug into to relieve ear fatigue.

His journey to shifting gears entrepreneurially – away from Locker Lifestyle and into building his new business, PowerToPitch – started due to his success winning 22 pitch competitions while building Locker Lifestyle and his desire to pass that success on to others.

A complete list of competitions she has won is available on her LinkedIn profilebut she said her two favorites were the Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs in April 2019 and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Student Entrepreneur Program Pitch Competition in June 2019. (The latter brought her to WBENC — an “incredible women founders organization” — which allowed her to be certified as a woman-owned business.)

Weaver attributes the success of her contests to her tight, engaging, and cohesive pitch, which she has honed over time to hold investors’ attention, clearly communicate a problem and a solution to the problem, and demonstrate how every dollar of the prize in money would be spent.

Last year, the Business Journal Overview a workshop she was running to help entrepreneurs who wanted to apply for the FedEx Small Business Grant 2021 $50,000 competition. She said the YouTube video of the event went viral and was inundated with messages from founders wishing learn more about designing a successful pitch.

Often at pitch competitions, Weaver was the only woman in a room full of male contractors and male judges. She said that according to her research, less than 2% of underrepresented female founders and female founders get capital for their businesses, which meant that starting a full-time coaching business out of her “secondary hustle” was something that she felt would help fill a huge gap in the industry.

“I asked why my (female) founding friends weren’t entering (pitch contests), and they said they felt really intimidated and didn’t understand the process. No wonder, because there was no performance,” she said.

“I’m now on a mission with PowerToPitch to help 1,000 underrepresented founders and founders take advantage of funding opportunities.”

Overall, she’s helped about 1,700 founders to date, though not all of them are women and underrepresented.

His company offers private coaching and a “Trust in Capital” course. Typically, she works with startup founders who already have a validated minimum viable product (MVP).

“I help them move from confusion and frustration to confidence and preparation so they can concisely talk about what they’re doing, take advantage of those funding opportunities, and get funded faster,” she said.

Although she is currently based in Chicagoland, the course is 100% virtual, so she can help founders based anywhere in the US, in any industry.

“Founders learn and work at their own pace, but have access to a private community, weekly group coaching, and a curated list of VCs and grants (so they can then apply what they’ve learned through the program and get support as they evolve,” Weaver said.

“I’ve served all kinds of industries from tech to bio to CPG to retail to food and beverage – which is really great because no one has really realized that many of these pitch standards and categories are exactly the same for each industry.”

She said what’s different about her service is that she helps founders “unlock their story” and understand the foundations of pitch success. Other programs on the market that offer coaching assistance often require founders to travel for a specific period of time, be in the tech industry, and even give up their company equity to receive the assistance they need. need.

“I don’t need equity to be in a program, and it (includes) lifetime access as well,” she said.

In addition to its direct services to founders, Weaver has also conducted introductory workshops for colleges, universities, and organizations such as WBENC.

“It’s been my pride and joy to help the Founders pitch,” she said. “I do a lot of workshops, but my priority is with PowerToPitch and I really make sure the founders and the course are the best they can be.”

Weaver also just landed a Chicago: Blend Venture Fellowship, which will allow her to pursue venture capital education at the University of California, Berkeley while connecting underrepresented founders and female founders to the currently white-dominated VC landscape. and men.

More information about PowerToPitch is at powertopitch.com.

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