The Samueli Theater in Costa Mesa was brimming with energy on March 8th for the Tech Coast Angels' Celebration of Entrepreneurship Fast Pitch Competition. With over 160 startups who applied to compete, 12 teams advanced as finalists. The event was largely coordinated and orchestrated by Event Chair, Ora Villalobos, alongside a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Before this evening, teams participated in workshops with mentors from the entrepreneur and investor community in Orange County to refine their pitches. Comprised of seasoned experts, mentors devoted over 20 hours to the teams to prepare them for the competition. Available categories for startups to place included Best Presentation, Most Fundable, Best Overall, and Audience Favorite.
Veriskin, Inc: A medical device company that is developing a hand-held device for non-invasive skin cancer screening.
Syntr Health Technologies: A Cove-based UCI startup medical device company that solves the problem of diabetic foot ulcers, using the patient's regenerative stem cells.
TrustedMechanix: An on-demand auto-repair company that saves customers time and money by performing automotive repairs at their homes or offices.
QT Medical: A medical device company that enables patients to manage their heart disease at home with a revolutionary 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).
AirDrop: A mobile app that exponentially reduces the hassle associated with travel by utilizing predictive analytics and machine learning to help people get from their door to the airport gate on time, every time.
Boxton: A logistics management company with a unique web platform that saves companies 30% on international bulk shipping by analyzing and bidding out shipments to top global suppliers.
Convert Coal, Inc.: Convert Coal cleans dirty coal by extracting pollutants and crude oil before it is ever burned making EPA compliance profitable, finally, for the coal power industry.
D&P Bioinnovations: A regenerative medicine company that is providing an off-the-shelf implant to regenerate a damaged esophagus.
FunBand Inc.: Cove-based UCI startup company that makes a kid tracker called FunLoop, a wearable device used to help parents keep track of their children in amusement parks using a proprietary network.
Librede Inc.: A synthetic biology company that uses yeast to produce cannabinoids, the active chemicals found in the cannabis plant.
Tot Squad: A company that is disrupting the $10B baby industry by offering car seat cleaning and installation for parents, rideshare companies, and rental car agencies on their quest to become the Geek Squad for baby gear services.
Party on Demand: A mobile app that makes planning life's celebrations simple and easy, allowing their users to order a full party complete with decorations, food, drinks, hardware, and entertainment - in one hour or less.
Each startup was given 60-seconds to pitch their startup and 3 minutes to answer questions from an esteemed panel of judges which included lifelong entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts - including Cove EiRs and TCA members. With UCI Applied Innovation as one of the sponsors of the event and a participating judge, Richard Sudek, Executive Director, and Chief Innovation Officer shared some brief opening remarks. He was introduced by Don Kasle, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Governors for Tech Coast Angels (TCA), who also served as master of ceremonies for the evening. Sudek recalled participating as both a participant and judge in the inaugural fast pitch back in 2001 alongside TCA founder, Luis Villalobos. John Harbison, Chairman of TCA, and Grant Van Cleve, President of TCA Orange County also provided overviews of TCA’s progress -- highlighting the continued success and growth of the organization. The event also served as an opportunity to celebrate TCA's 20th anniversary.
The pitch competition then took place and after a series of impressive presentations; the judges tabulated their scores to finalize their choices for each award category. The audience was also empowered to vote in real-time via their phones for the Audience Favorite Award. Cove-based UCI startup FunBand Inc. received the Best Presentation Award. Reheme Feleke, MD, MBA, Co-Founder and CEO of FunBand, thanked her mentors and advisors which included Cove EiRs. Other winners of the evening included Tot Squad for Most Fundable and Party On Demand, who received both the Audience Favorite Award and Best Overall.
The event concluded with closing remarks from Don Kasle and updates from two winning teams from the previous year, GlobeChat and Chillhound. Both startups shared significant milestones achieved and expressed their gratitude for the support that TCA and the entrepreneur ecosystem has provided them to move forward.
All photos shown in this post were taken and provided by David J. McNeil of EyeOn Productions.
Hai contributes to the Cove as a content writer for both the Currents newsletter and blog. As an alumnus of UCI with a degree in English and a co-founder of a local creative agency, Hai's focus is centered on spotlighting events, stories, and startups within the Orange County community. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and has participated in fast-pitch competitions through the UCI Antrepreneur Center and has co-organized local business and startup groups such as 1 Million Cups and Orange County Young Entrepreneurs.