Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas

Entrepreneurs dove into the Otter tank to pitch their businesses at the virtual Startup Investment and Community Capital Expo at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Sept. 23.

The event was packed full of engaging speakers, informative panels and emerging companies. 

Brad Barbeau, Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at CSUMB, welcomed attendees to the event with the theme of new frontiers. 

Barbeau believes there’s an immense level of opportunity for rising entrepreneurs.

“The disruption in our patterns of work and life has created a fluid environment that is rich in possibilities for start-up companies,” Barbeau said. 

Challenges like climate change and COVID-19 have left entrepreneurs with an opening to pioneer solutions to new problems. 

AirSet, a start-up pitched by speaker Devin Carlson, capitalizes on the pandemic. The company constructed an airflow monitoring system designed for health care settings. 

The AirSet team crafted the first Smart Damper, tracking and reporting airflow compatible with existing hospital infrastructure. 

Carlson walked investors through the business model.

“We’ve developed an air balance as a service system,” Carlson said, “coupling the device sale as well as the software subscription that provides data and visualization.” 

The Women in Venture Finance Panel analyzed what matters in investing and the impact of women in start-up businesses.

Olivia Owens, General Manager of IfundWomen of Color, discussed strategies for women at the beginning of their start-up journey.

“Having funding solutions helps women-owned businesses get to the later stages of capital,” Owens said. 

Owens believes founders should know when and how to use different funding options. 

Namrata Banerjee, Director of VentureBridge, provided her perspective as an investor.

“There are many reasons for why we need more women allocating capital,” Banerjee said. “The main reason is that it’s less intimidating to approach a person that looks and talks like you.” 

The LatinX Entrepreneurs Panel was an expo highlight, with insight from professionals with rich experience and diverse backgrounds, showing the importance of entrepreneurship in Latin America. 

Panelist and Author Pedro David Espinoza discussed meeting with various CEOs to complete his publication – Differences That Make a Difference. 

Espinoza leads the Silicon Valley Leadership Group by supporting the next generation of Latino and Black entrepreneurs through access to networking and capital. 

His first book examines companies innovating through inclusion.

Look out for the promising event start-ups presented at the expo. While the world faces an array of new complications, the wealth of opportunity in entrepreneurship expands.

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