Page One

Entrepreneurs taking their shots

By William Inman Daily Planet Staff
Thursday September 14, 2000

UC Berkeley graduate Matt Martello strapped his “Fat-Melt Magnet Belt” on over his suit coat and stepped under the hot lights and in front of the camera. 

The young entrepreneur wiped sweat from his brow, pushed his glasses up on his nose and wrapped his hands around the belt like a gunslinger or superhero and confidently told the slick Miles Spencer: “What I have in my palms is hotter than any dot-com.” 

Martello was one of some 30 entrepreneurs and company reps that spent a minute and a half pitching their products to Spencer, the co-host of Money Hunt – a syndicated public television show broadcast in the United States and Europe that lauds, or thrashes, entrepreneurs and their ideas. 

Spencer filmed the eager entrepreneurs for an hour at the Pyramid Ale House Tuesday evening. Then he changed hats and became Master of Ceremonies for the “Entrepreneur’s Grill,” a competition among new entrepreneurs, hosted by the Golden State Capital Network at Pyramid Ale at 901 Gilman St.  

This event is an entrepreneurial frat-party, where money talks and the beer flows free. It’s designed for entrepreneurs, designed for entrepreneurs, investors, lenders and other professional service providers to rub elbows, make pitches and swap cards while they guzzle beer and gorge themselves on chicken wings. 

“The Grill” itself, which took place in the second half of the evening, was set up much like the Money Hunt program. Three “grillers” or experts dressed in chef hats and aprons, critiqued four entrepreneurs’ pitches and business plans. 

John Gregory, president and CEO of Golden State Capital Network – a statewide venture catalyst organization that helps investors and entrepreneurs make contacts, said the East Bay is “becoming a mecca for emerging growth companies.” 

Martello, who received his degree in psychology at UC Berkeley, is the president of Health Magnet, Inc., a one-man operation he runs out of a relative’s house in Walnut Creek. 

“I’m still testing it,” he said of his belt, which looks like an elastic white belt with cylindrical magnets imbedded every half-inch or so with “Fat-Melt Magnet Belt” emblazoned in the front with red, permanent marker. 

He said he’s lost weight and fattened-up purposely over the past two years to test it. 

“I’ve lost about one pound a week on average,” he said. “It’s scientifically proven that the human body is electromagnetic.” 

Contrast Martello with Bill Halldin, a representative of, a Sacramento-based start-up that helps college newspapers transform their web sites into state-of-the art Internet portals. 

“We won the $100,000 investment from Money Hunt’s ‘Wow! What a Great Idea’ contest,” he said. 

Berkeley manager of economic development Bill Lambert gave his own pitch on behalf of the city, calling Berkeley “the land of innovation,” and “the East Bay innovation incubator.” 

“The point is, we’re here to serve you for your business needs,” he told the crowd of around 200. 

Lambert introduced several non-profit training agencies and educational institutions, including Vista College, the Berkeley Adult School and Berkeley High School, as potential reservoirs where businesses can find employees. 

The lucky winner of the grill, picked by an “applauseometer” was iConvention, an application provider for the convention and trade-show industry based in Citrus Heights. 

Gregory said their win meant that they get automatic entree into the October 20 conference in Concord where they, along with 19 others, will get the chance to give 10-minute presentations to potential investors and get the chance to get “grilled” one more time.