Middlebury student venture spotlights startups
MIDDLEBURY — While many of the students filling Middlebury College dining halls last winter were discussing looming final exams or details of their trips home for winter break, Sam Segal and Brett Perlmutter were working out the details of a company they hoped would change the startup industry.
That company, bulletpitch, has transformed from a dinner-table conversation to a newsletter that shares insights on startups with a growing group of investors, founders and other interested readers. Segal and Perlmutter, a senior and junior at Middlebury College, respectively, said they’re pleased with what they’ve been able to accomplish since they started planning bulletpitch in December of last year.
“We’re most proud of the fact that we’ve built a broad audience of thousands of people who look forward to getting our newsletter every Tuesday morning,” Segal said. “Our initial goals have been met, and the added benefits of giving startups exposure and helping people learn about the startup world has been very rewarding.”
Each week, a bulletpitch newsletter highlights a startup that has potential to do big things. Whether it be a personal productivity tool or a colorful whipped cream company, bulletpitch articulates in single-sentence bullet points what you need to know about the business and identifies potential risks to be wary of.
Perlmutter said the idea behind bulletpitch was to fill a gap in the business media industry, which rarely reports on startups.
“There is a lack of coverage on early-stage startups. They are typically only reported on when there is a significant event (fundraising, partnership, etc.),” he said.
Bulletpitch tries to fill this gap by highlighting startups across a variety of industries. The students also wanted to make coverage understandable for readers less familiar with business media.
“Finance/investing isn’t always the most accessible. Our bullet-point and simplistic format allows for digestible content where anybody can form an opinion on a startup,” Segal said.
To get bulletpitch off the ground, Segal and Perlmutter moved from the dining hall to empty classrooms on campus, drafting a name for their company and a logo to match. They experimented with different newsletter senders and sent their first newsletter out by mid-January.
At first their subscriber base was made up of mostly friends and family, but they’ve gained traction with business professionals and have built a reputation since then.
“Now that we have brand recognition, we have an extensive pipeline of founders who we speak with and that pitch us their companies like they would investors,” Perlmutter explained. “Our marketing strategy is simple. Every week the founder and startup cross-promote our letter on their channels. We tap a different audience every week.”
Segal and Perlmutter credit their success with bulletpitch in part to the Middlebury Innovation Lab. The pair won a grant through this year’s MiddChallenge, an innovation hub competition where students pitch business proposals in categories like business and technology.
Winning MiddChallenge helped Segal and Perlmutter secure funding to take their business further. They’ve been able to expand their team, adding a head of operations, digital marketing strategist and head of creative content to their operation.
Aside from the positive numerical feedback, Perlmutter said the response bulletpitch has gotten from its readers has been encouraging as well.
“We have this feature where if you actually respond to the email, we get the reply and it’s just been so overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “It’s just to show that what we’re building, we’re seeing really cool results and it makes it feel like we’re building something special.”
The challenge in running bulletpitch has been doing so as fulltime students with schedules full of extracurriculars. Perlmutter is a member of Middlebury College’s NCAA swim team, and Segal teaches spin classes at the college and sings in the Dissipated Eight acapella group. Both Segal and Perlmutter are also founding members of the Midd Ventures Club, a student-led organization that promotes student entrepreneurship.
Perlmutter said the pair has been able to make time for bulletpitch because it’s something they love doing.
“For us, this is what we’re passionate about,” he said. “We’re obsessed with this stuff; we love writing about startups.”
“Everything’s about time management, so just keeping a super organized schedule of calendar hours,” he said. “But the passion really drives us forward and doesn’t make it just another thing on the to-do list. It’s super rewarding and something I’m excited to get all of my work done to do.”
Looking ahead to the future of their company, Perlmutter and Segal said they are not worried about continuing to work together once Segal graduates in May. They’ve figured out how to communicate effectively across different time zones during semesters studying abroad and throughout different schedules while they were both pursuing internships this summer, so they’re confident in their ability to continue that collaboration.
And they see a lot of potential to continue growing their company, though Perlmutter said they try to concentrate on the present as much as the future.
“We’ve talked about where this could go and what we could do,” he said, “but for us it’s super important to stay present and stay focused on building something that really shines.”
Check out bulletpitch at https://bulletpitch.xyz.
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