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Local entrepreneurs pitch their ideas at third annual event

The Irvine Entrepreneur Forum awarded two startups $10,000 each

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: March 02, 2012 03:15 PM

Thursday’s event at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine brought together entrepreneurs, company founders, CEOs and investors from all over Southern California to learn about venture funding, launching a business and competing for investor support.

Part of the Irvine Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and produced by the Irvine Chamber, the Irvine Entrepreneur Forum (IEF) invites startup businesspeople to submit business plans for a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition, wherein business presentations to a panel of executives and angel investors are critiqued and judged. The two best presentations, one for general business and one for digital media, are selected to win $10,000.

Six companies, all startups or in early-stage development, presented business plans at the third annual Irvine Entrepreneur Forum on March 1, which drew a solid turnout from the local business community. Chris Lynch, vice president of business and economic development at the Irvine Chamber, said this year’s competition between presenting companies was extremely close.

“It’s been three times I’ve done this event [in Orange County], and this was the closest competition we’ve had, in both categories,” he said. “The person who won had like a 1-point advantage over the other.”

In the end, Aliso Viejo-based ZeroWatt Technologies, represented by company co-founder and president Dr. Fred Tzeng, and Irvine-based DishClips, presented by co-founders Tan Razael and Navid Firoozi, were selected to win the $10,000 prizes in investor funding. ZeroWatt, which won in the general business category, is a technology company that has developed a new method to reduce power consumption in analog-to-digital converters. DishClips, the winner in the digital media category, is an online social video guide to food and deals from local restaurants.

Other companies that presented at the event include MTrax, a mobile device search tech company from Laguna Beach; San Juan Capistrano-based Allegro, a private ophthalmologic research and development company; Verde Power Supply, a green energy technology firm from Corona del Mar; and Cadreas, a home and private construction industry website from Laguna Beach.

Chris Lynch said that the Forum presented by the Irvine Chamber is just one of many resources available to businesses just starting out.

“It usually depends on the sort of business; for technology startups there are groups like TriTech Small Business Development Center, there are groups like SCORE and OCTANe,” he said. “The universities all have good entrepreneurship programs and also the local community colleges. There really are a tremendous number of resources out there for entrepreneurs and startups who are looking for direction.”

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