Twelve entrepreneurs will have 90 seconds to pitch their business plan and catch the interest of investors at the ninth annual Tech Coast Angels Fast Pitch Competition May 25.
Pitches will be judged based on presentation quality and the investment potential of the business plans. Fellow entrepreneurs, investors and professionals attending the event will cast votes.
Dinner and networking opportunities will also be offered at the event, which is hosted by Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the nation’s largest angel investor network.
During the competition, which will be held at the UC Irvine Student Center from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m., four winners will be named in the categories of Best Overall, Best Funding Opportunity, Best Presentation and People’s Choice. Winners will then give an in-depth business presentation to TCA at a later date.
Participants were selected from 75 applicants and received five rounds of coaching from TCA mentors, including time with speech and presentation consultant Barbara Seymour Giordano.
“Our Fast Pitch Competition is an exciting event that draws some of Orange County’s best entrepreneurs with the most interesting business ideas, and gives them visibility and networking opportunities with the region’s most prominent angel and VC (venture-capital) investors and business executives,” said Richard Davis, TCA Fast Pitch chairman. “TCA focuses on finding brilliant local ideas and talent, and nurturing and developing them into solid, high-growth businesses."
Fast Pitch and other initiatives such as SeedTrack, which provides seed funding, services, education and strategic planning to entrepreneurs in the early stages of company development, are "critical" to TCA's mission, said Davis.
Kevin Zanjani is slated to pitch nSTEM, an Irvine-based company that has developed “a bio-technology tool that allows for culturing stem cells in a better biological manner,” he said. The company has eliminated animal products and external growth factors that contaminate stem-cell lines and can be toxic to humans.
His five-member team is made up of UCI MBA grads and a Ph.D. grad who developed the technology.
“One of the things we are hoping from the Tech Coast Angels Fast Pitch is to attract investors, especially local investors,” said Zanjani.
His pitch will include “all the right items that investors are looking for,” including the competitive advantages of the technology and potential growth in the market.
Stephen Jaffe, who holds a doctorate in engineering from Stanford University, will appeal to investors on behalf of Material Methods.
While working on a project to purify pharmaceutical drugs two years ago, the company's Irvine lab discovered a polymer that “makes good drugs better,” he said.
The polymer is said to increase a drug's therapeutic index – or the ratio of good effects to negative effects – reduce dosing frequency and increase safety, compared to polyethylene glycol additives.
“Angels typically would like to invest in high-return pharmaceutical development, but it turns out to be really risky,” Jaffe said. “What makes us stand out is the opportunity to avoid the risk of developing new drugs by improving successful drugs.”
The new and improved drugs then qualifies for re-patenting. Jaffe’s team is looking for investors to fund the preclinical development and testing, which typically costs $2 million to $5 million, enabling the technology to be sold to a larger company that can take it to the FDA.
Jaffe and his team will also take part in the tabletop discussion at the Irvine Chamber of Commerce's first Entrepreneur Forum June 1.
More than 150 ventures have been funded through the competition since it began nine years ago, raising more than $1 billion for portfolio companies across a gamut of industries, including life sciences, biotech, information technology, services, retail, Internet, financial, software, media, consumer products and tech startups.
Prior to May 23, registration costs $85 online. General admission costs $95 at the door and $45 for students with identification.
Founded in 1997, TCA currently boasts more than 250 members spanning five networks in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Westlake/Santa Barbara and the Inland Empire.
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