Even with the connections of a former NBA player, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy.
“If it’s hard for me, I can imagine how hard it is for a normal individual just coming up with something,” Bender says.
Former NBA player Jonathan Bender is coming to Dallas and wants to hear your business ideas.
Bender played seven seasons in the NBA before he finally had to walk away because of chronic knee pain. It’s that pain that led the 7’0’’ athlete to search for a solution. He picked up some raw materials to create his own wearable device for rehab.
“I had some bands that I got from Sports Authority, an old waist belt, some metal rods, some electric tape, ankle braces,” he says.
After a bit of tinkering, Bender created what looks like a pair of suspenders that connect to the back of the ankles instead of over the shoulders. What’s now called “The JB Intensive Trainer” acts like an external hamstring — that’s the muscle that runs down the back of the thigh. It’s designed to help exercise the lower leg without putting stress on the knees.
Even with his connections as a former NBA player, it took years for Bender to get his product out of his house and on the market.
Which is why he partnered with Crowdfunder.com to create “The Live Pitch.” The event is meant to give more minority and women-owned businesses a chance to make their pitch to investors. Bender says this is no normal pitch session:
“We stream it to a live audience and everybody that’s watching can invest if they want to,” he says. The companies selected to pitch will receive a free profile on the Crowdfunder platform.
Bender hopes the events, which will be in a different city each month, provide resources to first-time entrepreneurs. He remembers making the transition to the startup world wasn’t easy.
“[In] the world of professional sports, everything is given to you,” Bender says. “You go out there and display your gift and everything comes to you. Out here, you have to build the entity, you have to learn all these different positions and it’s tough. Everything is depending on your energy and your output.”
For those women-owned and minority-owned businesses ready to take on the challenge, applications for the Live Pitch are open online until Oct. 28.
The Live Pitch will take place between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, 311 North Market Street, Suite 200, Dallas, TX 75202.