Tim Fulton knocked his pitch out of the park.
The Sitka resident and founder of Ramper Innovations was the judges’ first-place pick in the 2019 Pitch Contest at the Innovation Summit Wednesday night at Centennial Hall.
“It blew me away, honestly,” Fulton said in an interview. “I entered it just to have fun.”
He compared it to races that he has run just for the experience.
“I never had any plans of winning a marathon, and I sure didn’t have any plans of winning this,” Fulton said.
The Innovation Summit is an annual conference and gathering for professionals presented by Juneau Economic Development Council. This was the fifth year a pitch contest has been held, said JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst, who praised the event’s five contestants.
“They consistently demonstrate the caliber of talent we have in our business community,” Holst said.
Fulton’s business, Ramper Innovations, was formed in 2014 and makes a folding conveyor system that moves baggage and cargo within the bellies of 737-sized aircraft.
Fulton, who spent 38 years loading and unloading airplanes as a ramp service agent, said his company saves airlines money and prevents pain and suffering in his fellow rampers. He said he has 14 of those units throughout Alaska Airlines stops.
“My product is called TISABAS, and that stands for Tim Saves Backs,” Fulton said in an interview. “It gets a smile, and it resonated with the crowd last night.”
Fulton’s pitch also placed first in Audience Choice voting.
H. “Ky” Holland, University of Alaska Fairbanks technology commercialization officer and an investor, who emceed the pitch contest, said this year judges were looking for businesses that have real-world experience and received and adjusted to actual feedback.
“As an investor myself, I care more about the team and their ability to learn and react,” Holland said.
By placing first, Fulton won 60 percent of $2,360 that came from the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce and attendees, who could buy votes for the Audience Choice Award for $10.
Jeff Levin, founder of Legalverse, from Anchorage, placed second in both the judges’ choice and audience choice and will receive 40 percent of the pot.
Levin’s business is a service company that creates legal software that helps legal teams respond with relevant documents in a timely and accurate manner.
Fulton said while the award money is nice, the experience and exposure are more important.
“One of the reasons that I signed up was just an awareness of being out there, and hopefully at some point having some investors interested in the project and helping me move that forward,” Fulton said. “This really is valuable for me when I’m trying to get my foot in the door for airlines and have those sales conversations.”
Additionally, Fulton, Levin and the other three pitch contestants will get to meet with the event’s judges Bradley Monton, Erin Baca and Yup S. Kim, which Holst and Holland said is a big deal for pitch contestants.
Holland said it’s unusual for pitch contestants to have followup time with judges, and the chance to get personal feedback is valuable.
“It never happens,” Holland said. “Normally, you have a pitch events, and the contestants are all stressed out, then it happens, and they all scatter to the four winds. The most important aspect of these competitions is helping the founders craft their message.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.