Start Garden approves fishing funding but has first no-show


Miles Smith, right, of Break Away Coupling, pairs up with Start Garden founder Rick DeVos after Miles presented at the seed fund's October update night. Courtesy Start Garden

Only one of eight ideas received continued funding at Start Garden’s most recent monthly “update night.”

That idea is Break Away Coupling, created by 22-year-old Grand Valley State University business student Miles Smith.

Smith’s product is new fishing hardware that “attaches to a fishing lure and is designed to break at a specific rate of tension, thereby allowing a snagged lure to be released and retrieved,” according to his Start Garden page.

The Start Garden team gave Smith’s idea an additional $20,000 in funding.

The team for the idea Elevate Athletica received a “not now” designation but will continue to work with Start Garden toward additional funding.

“They hadn’t really finished a test of what they were doing, but it’s really intriguing,” said Paul Moore, Start Garden’s marketing director. “We want to circle back and get into the details more.”

Start Garden also had its first ever no-show for an update night, Moore said. The absent face was that of Nolan Clemmons, whose idea Wufasta was being funded for $5,000. Clemmons, who lives in McKinney, Texas, felt he did not have enough time to make progress on his idea, Moore said, and it would not be worth flying up from Texas to present at update night.

Not everyone will show up with completed research and testing, Moore said, but the Start Garden team is still interested in the progress being made.

Start Garden is looking for people who can break down what they’re doing into small but testable experiments, Moore said.

“I gave him an explanation about our take, which is we’re not going to sue him. We certainly aren’t going to consider him for further funding,” Moore said. “Clearly, it defaults to we’re not investing because he didn’t show up, but his justification for not showing up was also something where we were like, ‘Well, those are the indicators we’re looking for, somebody who can’t get traction with a little bit of money and a little bit of time.’ That’s information we want to know.”

Clemmons said he was following his contractual obligation to wait 60 to 90 days after receiving his funds, which didn’t come until Sept. 25, he said.

He has been dealing with legal paper work and hasn’t even spent much of the money except on formation fees and operating agreements, he said.

“I’d love to come out (to Start Garden’s update night) in November. My intention is to abide by the agreement," he said. "So far, down here it’s all been a bunch of boring stuff. We haven’t even got into the meat of it.”

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