By GREGORY ZELLER //
The people have spoken, and Rip Tide III is about to raise someone’s boat, big-time.
The annual “Shark Tank” for East End entrepreneurs, a function of Southampton-based professional networking community i-Hamptons, has whittled down a field of 46 entries – with the help of an in-house selection committee and online public vote – and will put five finalists through their paces in a big final round, scheduled for Saturday at the Southampton Arts Center.
The finale – in front of a live audience and an “distinguished panel of judges” – will feature a broad cross-section of innovators and impresarios, peddling a unique street food, an “elemental sunscreen,” chili-infused teas, a tick time bomb and a “combative” energy drink.
With $50,000 in grant funding, prizes and mentorship-type services – provided by established East End entrepreneurs – on the line, the finale should rock, according to i-Hamptons founder Ashley Heather, who’s “sure our judges and audience will be impressed by what they see.”
“We have been prepping these companies all year through our monthly mentorship workshops,” noted Heather, who counted nearly 6,000 online votes propelling the finalists into Saturday’s do-or-die round.
“That tells me we’re onto something,” he added. “By creating this platform to help identify, mentor and grow these innovative businesses, we expect some of them to scale to become regional or national businesses.”
Providing such support for often-overlooked East End innovators has been the main thrust of i-Hamptons, a registered 501(c)3 organization, and The Spur, the part co-working space/part members-only “entrepreneur’s club” Ashley opened in 2017 and moved into its permanent Southampton home in 2018.
Several regional startups have already benefitted from the expanding club’s networking activities, including winners from Rip Tide’s 2018 and 2017 competitions – and now, the 2019 finalists are ready for their closeups.
“We expect some of them to scale to become regional or national businesses. This is what can be accomplished … when innovative people get together.”
Ashley Heather, i-hamptons
Slated to present Nov. 9 are the makers of Kombat-Cha – a kombucha-infused “probiotic, healthy elixir with positive energy … that tastes good,” according to the finalists’ bio – and PeKANT Tea, a line of chili-infused iced teas.
Also pitching are the culinary creator of Rena’s Dream Patties – a spin on the Jamaican beef patty, the “ultimate street food” – and the makers of Montauk Mud, a sunscreen with an ecological heart of gold.
Rounding at the 2019 finalists is The Tick Ball, a biodegradable weapon designed to keep back yards clear of the nefarious disease-spreaders.
The months of competition and preparation – including two-minute pitch videos, the online voting and those mentorship workshops – all come down to Saturday’s showcase, scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. (tickets and more information).
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Heather told Innovate LI. “And it’s a moment to be proud of. This is what can be accomplished on the East End when innovative people get together.”