WINCHESTER — Think it. Pitch it. Win it.
That was the goal for three entrepreneurs with the chance to pitch their ideas to investors in front of the local community during Friday night’s Pitch Night event at InnoVault Coworking Banking Hall in Winchester.
By the end of the night, Kelly Botta gave her pitch a bigger reality by winning both the People’s Choice and Panel’s Choice awards for Pitch Night 2021, which was hosted by career coach Crystel Smith and Alex Skinner of InnoVault Coworking.
Botta, a physician assistant, founded Winchester-based SmartyPants Medicine, with which she plans to help solve affordability and accessibility issues in primary care.
Botta opened her pitch presentation by reminiscing about browsing for movies in a video store, which gave way to Netflix and other streaming services that give you on-demand viewing. She likened this to her business being an on-demand primary care system.
“The health care system is ripe for change,” Botta said. “I do think I have found the solution for primary care.”
Botta said her model is a “totally new, disruptive type of model” that gives you direct access to your provider. It’s billed as convenient, affordable and personalized and operates under a membership model.
“Access basically means when you want to be seen or need to be seen for health care you can be,” she said. “The data actually shows that you have better health care outcomes and an overall lower cost to the system when you have better access.”
Botta said people don't use their homeowners insurance to change light bulbs or their car insurance to change their oil. So why do we use our health insurance for routine, low-cost, primary health care, she asked.
Currently, Botta makes house calls to serve her clientele. If her business grows enough to need a brick-and-mortar location, she plans to continue house calls while supporting a physical location.
Insurance isn’t required, but she recommended clients have some type of insurance for “catastrophic events” and other major medical needs.
Botta atteneded Shenandoah University in the Physician Assistant program, earning her master of science in PA studies before starting this business venture about four months ago.
With the wins at the event, Botta received one month of free coaching from Smith, a three-month membership at InnoVault and a copy of Smith’s new book for the People’s Choice award as well as another free month of coaching, a yearlong membership at InnoVault and a $1,000 prize for the overall Panel’s Choice award.
Other pitch presenters included Dustyn Vallies, of Harrisonburg-based Local Food Network, and Dr. Paulius Mui, of Table Rounds.
Local Food Network is a business that crowdsources delivery of farm-fresh foods to wholesale purchasers.
The idea is to create a network of growers who are already traveling on their own to work together to maximize transportation of their goods.
Table Rounds is an educational medical card game that is meant to help bridge the gap between what medical students endure during medical school and what they apply in the real world of their practice.
Pitch Night panels included Kevin McKannan, a Winchester-based attorney; Dr. Montressa Washington, a business professor from Shenandoah University; Keri Ayres, founder and president of Front Royal-based Moms in Motion; and Wendy Dunn, vice president and branch manager at Bank of Clarke County.
All three pitchers worked with Skinner on perfecting their pitches for weeks prior to the event.
The idea for Pitch Night was something that Smith had in her head for years. She credited Skinner for helping give her the push she needed to make it happen.
“This moment was a dream of mine. It all started with an idea,” Smith said. “Typically, we don’t believe in ourselves or we don't surround ourselves with others that believe in us… Pitchers, I encourage you to believe in yourself.”
Another Pitch Night has been scheduled for May 28.