It was standing room only on Tuesday, March 26, at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown as contestants, judges, and audience members alike crowded the Baylies Room for the annual Martha’s Vineyard Perfect Pitch competition. Now in its third year, the “Shark Tank”-like setting pits entrepreneurs against one another and a panel of five judges (members of the local business community) in a bid to bring home the bacon — cash prizes totaling in excess of $10,000.
In the Vineyard version of the popular ABC reality show, aspiring Islanders are given just three minutes to present themselves, their business or product idea, and their plans to spend the locally sourced proceeds. Sponsored by the M.V. Chamber of Commerce, Seidman Investment Portfolios, the Cape and Island SCORE, M.V. Bank, the Nonprofit Collaborative, and the Steamship Authority (contestants received a $100 Steamship gift certificate just for participating), the event featured 11 distinct “pitches” or business plans.
Startups ranging from Eric and Katherine Voshell’s Reliable HVACR (the duo took third place), to Roberta Kirn’s BeWellSing, an organization that uses song to promote wellness in the workplace, to Dr. Bryan McShea’s initiative to bring an $80,000 cryogenic chamber to the Island were gallantly on display. But in the end, it was the smallest fish that caught the attention of the Sharks.
Hannah Marlin’s spicy personality and trademark wampum jewelry captivated both crowd and council, netting a win for the founder of Littlest Fish Designs and a cool $6,000 toward an elite master’s program at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif.
“I just want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way,” said the breathless and clearly elated champion. “This is a dream come true, and I can’t wait to make a whole new realm of jewelry available to the Island.”
Marlin’s first-place showing was followed closely by Tanya Dutra’s Optimize HR, LLC — a human resources consulting firm specializing in seasonal employment. She received $3,000 for her efforts, with the passionate Voshell heating and air conditioning outfit rounding out the winners’ circle. Competition was fierce, with Gavin Smith’s Food Minded Fellow culinary podcast vying for position, and novel ideas for the Life is Grand brand and the historic Shearer Cottage also in the race.
The annual event is open to all Vineyard residents, and has become a spring rite of passage.