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Entrepreneurs vie to pitch at ABQid Demo Day

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Aspiring entrepreneurs had a chance to hone their sales pitch skills Friday in an event that had all the fanfare of a fashion show.
Demo Day is the culmination of the latest class to go through ABQid’s accelerator program. The program exposes teams of entrepreneurs to three months of intensive coaching on how to develop their concept and launch their products with the support of mentors and business experts.
CEOs of 10 startups gave six-minute pitches aimed at sparking interest in buying or investing in a diverse array of businesses, including a company that produces sensor-equipped skullcaps for athletes at risk for head injuries, a genetic analysis system to improve performance horse breeding and an online art gallery.
“We’re now training entrepreneurs in a way that has never happened before,” said Gary Oppedahl director of the city’s economic development department and an ABQid board member.
More than 200 people attended the event at the Epicenter, part of the InnovateABQ economic development complex at Central and Broadway Downtown.
Club music pumped loudly as the presenters strode through the audience to take the stage.
First up was Paul Szauter of EquiSeq who touted the benefits of genetic testing to alert breeders of valuable quarter horses, showjumpers and racehorses of genetic conditions that could pose serious health risks.
Serial entrepreneur Gordon Schaeffer of BounceChat App — a new way for mobile device owners to share photos, links and messages — told the story of his idea, what made it different from existing apps, how friends could use it to share experiences at music festivals or weddings, and how he’s already piqued interest from Larry Marcus, a founding investor in Internet music service Pandora.
ABQid started last year under a $1.8 million three-year contract from the city. It’s part of a broad effort by the city, private sector and public institutions to build a business innovation district Downtown.
ABQid runs entrepreneurial boot camps and mentorship programs. The organization’s board picks those who can participate in the accelerator program through a competitive process that looks at the timeliness of the proposed business.
The program is designed to help entrepreneurs develop their business concept and test its market viability. Teams receive mentoring and access to industry connections. ABQid also invests seed funding in the most promising companies with an expectation of a return on investment, according to the website.