We work with the Venture Association of New Jersey to film their bi-annual Elevator Pitch Olympics. Each Olympics, over 30 companies present a short two minute company presentation to a room full of Venture Capitalists. A panel of judges then scores them based on both quality of presentation and fundability. The company with the best score wins.
We make all the presentations available online so that venture capitalists who cannot make it in person can still watch online to get a feel for the company and the management team. After all, video of the CEO can tell you more about a company than words on a page. VCs who attend in person often give their colleagues the video links to look at companies of interest.
This year, one interesting company was Mystic Tackleworks.
Typically, presenting companies are technology start-ups or health care start-ups. It’s not often that you find a fishing tackle company presenting, let alone finishing in the top 3. What I found interesting was that they use neuroscience to make a better bait.
Mystic Tackleworks is introducing breakthrough science and technology to the $800 million US sportfishing lure industry ($3.5 billion worldwide) and expects to gain significant market share, just as occurred when technology was brought to the bicycle, running shoe, skiing and golf industries. Its novel products combine patented Feeding Stimulants, which act as neurological feeding triggers for fish, and Bio Pulse Lures that work as a stimulant delivery system. These Bio Pulse Lures will incorporate taste/smell, visual and sound systems and will far exceed the catch rate of existing lures.
Additionally, the Company’s management team has years of close personal ties with the major distributors and retailers in the sportfishing industry.
DURING THE PAST FOUR YEARS, MYSTIC TACKLEWORKS:
- Worked with Louisiana State University to determine the neurological relationship between feeding behavior and chemical reception in fish; the Company will license this patented technology from LSU
- Worked with Stanford University to develop new techniques in imaging technology to enhance the visual attraction of lures
- Worked with Loyola University to determine the role that sound plays in influencing fish behavior
- Worked with a senior engineer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to develop product features and test operational designs
- Designed a totally new Bio Pulse lure that employs revolutionary technologies to release Feeding Stimulants in a controlled, natural manner so that the lure performs as if it were a living organism, resulting in greater rates of success for fishermen of all skill levels; these patent-pending processes are unheard of in the fishing industry; the Feeding Stimulants are ’species-specific’ (i.e. bass, salmon, trout, etc.) and the lure is an inventive design incorporating refillable stimulant chambers, dispersal membranes and a pressure inducing biasing system to control water flow into and out of the lure’s body
- Conducted extensive product tests of sample lures during nearly two hundred fishing trips, consistently outperforming traditional lures; final testing will be conducted by an evaluation team, which includes an internationally recognized angling authority and television host, an angler who was recently named by ESPN as one of the ‘Ten Best Anglers of All Time’, two former BASS ‘Angler of the Year’ recipients and two former Citgo Bassmaster Classic champions. The Company will use testimonials from this team as a major part of its advertising strategy
- Assembled a management team of not only seasoned professionals, but including the recent Director of the American Sportfishing Association, who has strong working relationships with the primary fishing tackle distributors, and an executive from Sunbeam-Coleman, who was responsible for the development of several product lines for the recreational fishing industry.
Now, after four years of successful scientific research, product design/testing, and patent filings for its innovative designs and systems, Mystic Tackleworks is ready for product commercialization.
The Company has recently commenced a three stage process to prepare for commercialization: final product engineering, development of ‘market ready’ prototypes, and prototype testing in actual fishing environments. This process will take three to four months and cost approximately $85,000.
SALES AND MARKETING
Mystic Tackleworks will use both Big Rock of North Carolina, and Maurice Sports of Illinois as its national distributors. These are the two largest and most respected distributors of sportfishing equipment in North America, giving the Company access to 85% of the American retail market, including Wal-Mart.
This includes all national small and big box retailers. The Company’s President, Richard Ice, has worked very closely with the nation’s key sporting goods buyers and distributors for many years, both as the Director of the American Sportfishing Association and in management positions with several of the industry’s top sales organizations. Mr. Ice has long standing relationships with national retail executives in critical areas related to national market penetration and product entry.
Augmenting this distribution push-strategy will be an aggressive national promotion campaign, with heavy emphasis on cable TV sportfishing programs. The Company will use well-known fishermen to endorse its products, leveraging the fact that word-of-mouth is powerful in this industry. The promotions will emphasize technology-driven products and show the advantages to anglers from science, research and innovation. In addition to television, the Company will advertise in fishing papers and magazines, exhibit at major fishing trade shows, and sponsor fishing tournaments.
The Company has an experienced management team including Greg Mitchell, CSO and Founder, a research scientist and inventor; Richard Ice, President, the former Director of the American Sportfishing Association; Timothy Jones, CFO, who has led innovative technology companies in the U.S., Asia and Europe; and Walter Patrick, COO, who was a Division Manager at a Fortune 250 company.
Mystic Tackleworks will source its products in China. Company management has extensive experience with several large, well established outsourcing companies. This model will minimize start-up and growth costs and reduce funding needs. Outsourcing works well for the Company, since its products are primarily injection molded, are a simple design to mold and are not subject to changes in response to individual customer needs. Products to be sourced include the Bio Pulse Lures, Feeding Stimulants and Bio Flush microbial growth inhibitor. The Stimulants will be pressure injected into the lure via a small aerosol canister. Year 1 unit sales will be 188,750 Bio Pulse Lures, 188,750 Feeding Stimulant canisters, and 141,560 Bio Flush products.
Warehousing of goods coming in from China will be subcontracted to companies in California or Nevada, known by the Company, and eventually to additional sites in the Southeast.