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Startup business owners pitch ideas at conference

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Google, Apple, Facebook - they all had to start somewhere. In Nashville Wednesday, people who think they've got the next big idea were offered the chance to try and sell it. At the first-ever Southland Conference at the Cannery Ballroom, startup business owners had to make a grand impression to potential investors.

"The entrepreneurial spirit has really swept across the country," said Populr.me CEO Nicholas Holland. "It makes it much more difficult to stand out."

Walking through the crowd and up on the stage, the business owners had five minutes to sell their blood, sweat and tears. With urgency in their voices, they knew one face in the crowd of hundreds could be the investor to change their lives.

"It's really to give exposure to some of the most promising early stage companies throughout the Southeast and expose them to investors around the country," said Launch TN CEO Charlie Brock.

The pitches were critiqued by a panel including an expert from CNN Digital.

"Populr.me is a tool that makes it easy to create and share a single web page that you can use in your daily communication," said Holland, describing his company. "We deliver the power of the web to individuals like me who don't have design or technical skills."

"Your company's name feels like it's a consumer-oriented," said KC Estenson of CNN Digital, speaking from the panel. "It sounds like a youth-publishing sort of platform. You should take a long look at the name."

Taking advice, the good and the bad, Holland said it's time to wait and see what those five minutes on stage did for his company.

"Quite honestly, I think this is the best startup event Nashville has ever had," said Holland.

The conference continues at the Cannery Thursday where the pitches will be for companies promoting healthcare and energy.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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