Salty Skin Pacific LLC won the first-ever Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s Pitchfest last Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Ballroom, outdoing seven other finalists in presenting an effective business pitch.
Joe Villacrusis, who owns Salty Skin Pacific with his business partner, James Lee, was awarded $2,000 as the overall winner of the Pitchfest and $500 courtesy of Chamber accelerator investor I Love Saipan.
The chamber also presented its “Chamber’s Choice” award to four businesses: JD’s Boutique, Tahine’s TV Productions, Ra Power, and Music & Me.
Tahine’s TV Productions also received an award courtesy of Paradise Dental Spa and the first-ever champion investor award of $1,000, courtesy of TanHoldings; Isla Shreds received an accelerator investor award from IT&E; Marianas Collection received an accelerated investor award from the Marianas Business Plaza; and Guava Rose receives an accelerator investment award from Friends First Marketing.
Pitchfest was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to share their ideas with a panel of judges and an audience for a chance to win seed money that could help grow or launch a small business. Each of the eight businesses were given a total of seven minutes to discuss their business pitches to the panel of judges and three minutes for questions and answers by the judges.
In his presentation to the panel, Villacrusis pitched the idea behind Salty Skin, which is to provide a clothing that represents the CNMI’s paddlers, fishermen, surfers, divers, and other water sports, and to be the first clothing brand on island to fully dedicate its efforts and sales toward ocean conservation.
He showed the Chamber panel Salty Skin’s prototype shirt made with organic cotton. He believes that Salty Skin has an edge because it follows the current movement on climate change.
Salty Skin Pacific currently operates exclusively online.
Besides the $2,000 first-place prize, Villacrusis will also be receiving free chamber membership under the start-up package (worth $300), free Saipan Young Professionals membership for one year, a recognition plaque/trophy, and a sponsored gift bag from community sponsors.
“Now [with this money] we can begin operations and production of our shirts, hats, and towels,” he said.
He wants to get the business started so they can start charity work, as they intend to donate a certain portion of the prize money to the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance’s Green Gala. One of Salty Skin’s long-term goals is to create a non-profit organization designed to protect the oceans.
Salty Skin Pacific credits the chamber and the Small Business Development Center’s Nicole Babauta for mentoring.
The Pitchfest judging panel consisted of acting Northern Marianas College president Frankie Elliptico, Triple J Saipan’s Perry Inos Jr., I Love Saipan’s Alex Youn, Jiang Zheng Group’s Joe Guerrero, and Marianas Variety’s Laila Boyer.