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6 startups get chance to pitch products at Las Vegas conference

Panty Drop wants more customers to sign up for its women’s underwear subscription box, but the Reno-based startup needs more capital.

If all goes well, the 2-year-old company will be able to raise funds during Thursday’s Southern Nevada Angel Conference at Las Vegas City Hall.

“We are raising capital primarily for growth,” said Julie Arsenault, founder of Panty Drop. “A big part of our round is going into marketing — testing and identifying the most valuable ways to acquire customers. We will invest about 70 percent towards growth and 20 percent into operational efficiencies.”

The one-day investor conference held by business incubator StartUpNV features panels and educational sessions geared toward startup companies and accredited investors. Attendees will gain advice on navigating the startup ecosystem such as the fundamentals of angel investing and capital stage requirements for startups advancing from pre-seed to Series A.

The sessions precede the conference’s main event: a one-and-a-half-hour “Shark Tank”-like pitch session by six companies, including Panty Drop, in front of potential investors.

“We have awesome founders and really interesting companies being formed, but everybody struggles with early stage funding,” StartUpNV co-founder and executive director Jeffrey Saling said. “There’s plenty of wealth in Las Vegas. It’s not like there’s no money. It’s just a question of getting people inspired and focused on wanting to invest in startups in their community.”

Fostering the state’s startup and angel investing community is the reason StartUpNV launched the conference, according to Saling.

More than 100 companies applied for a chance to pitch at this year’s conference, but only six were selected.

“It was hard to narrow it down, (and) we didn’t limit it to just Nevada,” he said. “We had companies from Russia, South America and Poland. I was surprised they found us and applied.”

The finals resulted in three companies from Las Vegas and three from the Reno area.

Panty Drop and five other companies are each hoping to raise between $50,000 and as much as $2 million.

The other five are Reno-based Right Hearted Weddings, a wedding planning app with a Tinder-like functionality allowing users to swipe left or right on vendors; Truckee, California-based Hibear Co., maker of a travel bottle for drinks including water, coffee and cocktails; Las Vegas-based SNOOZ, a portable white noise machine featuring a mechanical fan; Las Vegas-based natural skin care brand Free Brands Inc.; and CareShare Manager, a Las Vegas-based provider of cloud-based software to help long-term care facilities manage patient information while updating families.

Once the pitch session is completed, an announcement will be made as to how much each company managed to raise.

“Anyone who has raised money, we are going to feature them at 6 p.m. and give them one of those big checks you see in golf tournaments,” Saling said. “We’ll embarrass them a bit and celebrate them with some of the money they’ve raised.”

Arsenault said her team has raised about 80 percent of the investment Panty Drop is seeking since starting its seed fund in July. She declined to disclose how much it’s looking to raise.

“We’re feeling ready,” she said. “We’ve been planning for a while. We’re in a good position. Once you raise over 50 percent, it kind of snowballs, so I think it’s nice to say we’re just about done and planning to close by the end of the month.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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