By Christopher Stephens The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "AerialFit" founder Charity Rees won over the crowd at a local pitch event for entrepreneurs with her impassioned story of fighting her way back from obesity and a debilitating spinal injury by finding the high-intensity, low-impact bungee workouts.
AerialFit bounded over five other entrepreneurial competitors to take home the top prize in the county's first ever Pitch Night.
Charity Rees and Lindsay Montgomery, founders of the bungee-focused workout center, won the $7,700 cash prize at the Vesuvius Coworking Pitch Night at Mainstage Theatre, raking in 142 votes, nearly 100 more than second place.
"We are so excited. It just gives us confirmation in what we are doing," Montgomery said.
Rees won over the crowd with her impassioned story of fighting her way back from obesity and a debilitating spinal injury by finding high-intensity, low-impact bungee workouts. After flying out to Arizona to meet with an instructor, Rees said it was just a natural fit.
Now, she's the only licensed bungee instructor in the state, and with funds from Thursday's pitch night, Rees and Montgomery plan to open a location in downtown Anderson that will include bungee workouts, aerial yoga and silk and pole workout classes.
"I want aerial fitness to be for every single person," Rees said. "I want to show that you can be the girl in the back brace, the person who is overweight and you can still fly."
Other pitchers were Lisa Singleton: Tiny Living -- Sustainable Life; Pete Bitar: Vertipod; Cindy Dunston Quirk: Scout and Zoe's; Laura Turvey: Tipsy Turvey pubcakes; and Deon Parson: Pen and Ink.
Shane Bivens, founder of Vesuvius Coworking, said he was stunned by the nearly sold-out crowd that included venture fund capitalists and angel investors from Indianapolis as well as a number of local business owners and residents looking to see what the city had to offer. Voting was done through Facebook.
Though each of the entrepreneurs were vying for the top cash prize, the real win for Bivens was in bringing business people together and acting as the "collision point" between ideas and action.
"The main goal is not for one person on this stage to get money, it's to make everyone aware that there are people here trying to do something great," Bivens said. "They have made a commitment to this community, and we need to make sure we support them."
Chuck Rossen, owner of Star Photo, said as a small business owner in the city he was happy to hear from other upstarts and see what others have planned for the city.
"I am always interested to get information from startups," Rossen said. "I am very excited. Interesting things are happening in Anderson."
Bivens said he hopes to use Thursday's first pitch night as a launching pad for future events, possibly with more narrow themes.
"Really what I want to do, what co-working and what I am doing is all about, is bringing people together and showing that there are others out there," Bivens said.