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first customer offers entrepreneurs face time with decision makers

Getting face time with the right decision-makers is priority # 1 for any would-be entrepreneur. A terrific idea for a much-needed product may never become reality if it can’t presented to the right people.

Unfortunately, getting face time with the right decision makers doesn’t come easily for entrepreneurs. Fortunately, a one-year-old program in Columbus called First Customer is helping to change that for Central Ohio entrepreneurs. 

First Customer is a joint initiative of Tech Columbus, whose mission is to accelerate the growth of Central Ohio's innovation economy, and Columbus 2020, an economic development organization.  The new organization is currently focusing its efforts on helping qualified entrepreneurs get access to decision makers at established medical device and software businesses.

Such access comes through a steering committee of eight chief information officers from a wide range of industries and fields, such as real estate, utilities, city government, restaurants, hospitals, insurance and fashion.

“To qualify, the entrepreneur must have a clear concept, a written business plan, a team in place and a previous funding source,” explains Parker MacDonell, who is facilitating First Customer. “The individual must also have completed a beta or clinical test and be ready to commercialize the product or service.”

According to MacDonnell, First Customer has had some 35 startups begin the vetting process since the program launched. “Three have gotten business so far, and there are another four or five that will over time,” he notes.

The idea for First Customer came from Columbus laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Wayne Poll. Dr. Poll invented a medical device to help doctors maintain clear sight during a laparoscopic procedure. While his device is now a success, Dr. Poll discovered that hospitals can be difficult to navigate when it comes to new products.

He hoped to see an organization created to help entrepreneurs get access to decision makers. First Customer is the result of his farsighted idea.
Source:  Parker MacDonell
Writer:  Lynne Meyer
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