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Local entrepreneurs to pitch ideas to business leaders

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Several entrepreneurs will get the chance to pitch their ideas to leaders in the local food and beverage industry on Thursday. The Venture Club is hosting the “Pitch or Treat” event at the Columbia Club.

The entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to restaurateurs Scott Wise (Scotty’s Brewhouse and Thr3e Wise Men), Chris Baggott (ClusterTruck and Tyners Pond Farm), Neal Brown (Pizzology) and Gary Brackett (the Stacked Pickle and Georgia Reese’s). If the restaurateurs like an idea, they could decide to sell it in their own business.

“I think it’s a great way to give some young entrepreneurs advice and maybe even an opportunity for a product placement or a product,” said Wise.

Wise said he’s hoping to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs get started.

“Every successful entrepreneur has had their share of failures, mine included. My second restaurant I lost a million dollars…I don’t want anyone to feel what I felt like when I closed my second restaurant,” said Wise, ” If I can help someone avoid pitfalls that I’ve gone through then that’s the stuff that I want to be able to provide to somebody.”

24-Hour News 8 talked with one of the entrepreneurs pitching their product — Erin Edds. Edds owns Garden Party Hard Soda, an all-natural alcoholic soda.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time in the food and beverage industry in the city, with all the distillers and the brewers,” said Edds.

Edds will launch her hard soda at the end of the month with Monarch Beverage. She started working full-time on the brand, less than two years after the idea struck.

“It was very fortuitous. It was a simple text I sent to my business partner and husband…it said, ‘the wine cooler grows up’,”said Edds.

Edds told 24-Hour News 8 consumers in Indiana will soon be able to buy the drink in several stores including Big Red Liquor stores, Marsh and Whole Foods.

“Our goal is to make this a national brand within three years,” said Edds.

First, she’s hoping to land a deal in Indianapolis and get one of the restaurateurs to serve Garden Party Hard Soda in their restaurants.

“This is like a  mini-version of Shark Tank. If there’s somebody that really has a product that I like, what’s to stop me from ordering it?  I think — not just me, if Neil Brown and Chris Baggot and Gary Brackett — if any of us see a product that we really like, I hope that we don’t get into a bidding war with each other on trying to grab that product,” said Wise.

The judges may squabble over the next big idea, but Wise they’ve worked together to grow the food and beverage industry in Indianapolis.

“We can be competitive, but we can also work together to help each other so we can all succeed. The tide rises with all of us,” said Wise, “Our community is so good and beneficial and helpful — and that’s what makes me proud to be live here and to work here.”

Edds takes advantage of that collaborative spirit by working at the Speak Easy co-working space downtown.

“How amazing to be centrally located in a space where you are around the influencers of local business on a daily basis,” said Edds.AN INCUBATOR FOR FOOD AND BEVERAGE ENTREPRENEURS 

The team at Indy’s Kitchen will also speak at the Pitch or Treat event. Indy’s Kitchen allows food and beverage entrepreneurs to rent a fully equipped kitchen by the hour. William Powell, with Indy’s Kitchen, said the space is an incubator for the food and beverage industry.

Entrepreneurs who are just starting out can rent a fully equipped kitchen by the hour, instead of signing a lease with all the bills that come with it.

“This way, we’ve absorbed those costs so the entrepreneur doesn’t have to. We do have entrepreneurs that eventually graduate from our facility and they will incur those costs, but they’ve built their business to better handle those costs in the future,” said Powell.

Powell said restaurants like Tinker Street and Shoefly Public House worked in Indy’s Kitchen, before going out on their own.THE FUTURE OF SCOTTY’S BREWHOUSE

Scott Wise talked to 24-Hour News 8 about the future of Scotty’s Brewhouse. Wise said he’s looking at opening several restaurants in the Scottsdale and Phoenix markets at the beginning of the year. Wise also said he’s working with a private equity company to further expand his business.

“We’re going to close in about the next two weeks. They want to take us from 20 restaurants to about 200 restaurants for the next four years, including overseas growth into Japan…my world is going to completely turn upside down here very shortly, but I’m so excited,” said Wise.

Wise said with the deal, he hopes to be in all fifty states.WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR BUSINESS ADVICE FROM SCOTT WISE: