Innovative Entrepreneurs Compete for Prizes and Recognition (published in July of 2009 in the SB News Press)

With the chaos in the financial industry at present, those looking for start-up capital have had to look for alternative sources of funding, like angel and venture capital investors.  On Monday, August 17th, CBIZ Accounting, Green2Gold, and the Tech Brew, among many others, will host a fantastic event at the Fess Parker Double Tree Hotel and Resort, during which entrepreneurs will have a chance to compete for prizes, recognition, and possibly for funding of their enterprise.  This competition is an excellent opportunity for start-up and early-stage businesses to gain access to these investors.

The Central Coast Innovation Showcase will bring together hundreds of attendees, including angel, venture capital, private and institutional investors; enterprises, innovators, and professionals, from the tri-county area (SLO, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties), to hear ten presentations from entrepreneurs who successfully pass an initial screen, who will be judged by a prestigious panel of expert judges, industrialists, marketers, successful entrepreneurs and heads of investing groups.  The top three prize winners from this competition will have the opportunity to go to San Diego in the spring of 2010 to compete in the California Business Assent championship round, and all ten will have a chance to showcase their ideas for investors in attendance. 
Green2Gold (, one of the key sponsors of this event, is a non-profit organization and a project of the Environmental Education Group (, (also a 501c-3 non-profit institution, founded in 1972), and is dedicated to building a better, greener world through ethical, environmental economic development.  Green2Gold is dedicated to helping green businesses grow through their unique Environmental Incubation™ process.  Green2Gold mentors, educates, and brings to market environmental technologies, services, sustainable enterprises and environmentally-respectful products.  The organization was formed to both stimulate sustainable economic development and commercialize innovative ideas in sustainable and renewable products and services, inspiring viable solutions to environmental degradation and pollution. 
Green2Gold is also working to create a state-designated innovation zone or innovation collaborative, that will create a region for clean, green and renewable energy enterprising and inventing that will help attract investors, tax incentives, and establish connections between many institutions that will help meet the challenge of creating a sustainable green economy.
Green2Gold has been assisting and supporting hundreds of incubator businesses to find the information, funding, and expert guidance they need to succeed.  Three examples of new technologies that Green2Gold has helped incubate are:
The Greenest Flashlight in the World – Mark Robinett of San Rafael, CA invented an ergonomic Ecolight; a supercapacitor/LED flashlight that is the greenest and most travel-friendly in the world. Not only is this flashlight made from recycled plastic and rubber, but it has nearly unlimited recharges and requires no batteries. The Ecolight is charged instead through either an hour in the sunlight, only four-minutes with the AC & Car charger, or through the AC charge cord for a computer USB port!  This water-resistant flashlight packs a punch with 50 lumens brightness and a focused beam that travels over 100 feet. By using supercapacitors that store electricity electro statically, there is no chemical pollution from batteries or bulbs thereby making it Restriction of Hazardous Substances compliant.
Life Cube – Michael Conner, a prolific inventor, serial entrepreneur and President of a stone company he started in Santa Barbara, witnessed the newscasts of the Katrina Hurricane disaster in New Orleans and knew that there had to be a better way. His answer was the Life Cube-a temporary disaster relief shelter containing all the necessary elements of survival in a convenient package that can be shipped, trucked or air-dropped to ground zero immediately after disaster strikes. The product would arrive as a durable, four foot cube made 95% from recycled plastic which would then unfold into a 12 square foot floor to create a raised, stable platform that would keep victims out of the mud. Interior components would include food, water, communications, first-aid, warmth, and most importantly: shelter.
Continental Wind Power – Another Green2Gold incubee that blazed a path to quick success is Continental Wind Power, founded by Jim Winsayer, who brought together top talents in business and power engineering to create world class, state of art wind power technologies, plus an innovative business model.  Continental is expected to produce many hundreds of new jobs in our region, in addition to a vendor supply chain ripple effect, and clean renewable energy.
Inventor and serial entrepreneur, Alan Tratner, Executive Director of Green2Gold, relates that the upcoming Central Coast Innovation Showcase will be one of twenty regional competitions throughout California, and in addition, each event will be webcast so that investors from all over the state will be able to watch presentations by entrepreneurs as they compete.  This is an incredible opportunity for those seeking funding for their business to access an unprecedented number of angel and other investors. 
Normally, assuming an entrepreneur can gain an opportunity to present to an angel group, they will only have access to a local chapter of the angel group, containing about 20 investors.  With hundreds of investors expected at this event, and many thousands more watching the webcasts, entrepreneurs seeking funding should jump at this opportunity, since it may be their only chance to access such a large number of potential investors.
According to Tratner, there will be a strong focus on green and sustainable technologies, with the competition specifically focusing on the following industries:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Technology
  • Solar Technology
  • Wind Technology
  • New Media/Web 2.0
  • Agricultural Innovation
  • Advanced Materials
  • Biotech Diagnostics
  • Biotech Therapeutics
  • Aerospace
  • Emerging Technologies

With this said, the competition is open to all business types, and is free for all attendees, thanks to primary sponsor of the event, CBIZ Accounting, and entrepreneurs can find information and register at:
Additionally, there will be exhibits and other resources available to help entrepreneurs with a multitude of issues they will face as new business owners.  Organizations like the angel investor group, Maverick Investors, which recently opened a new chapter in Santa Barbara, and the Central Coast Venture Forum, among many others, will be on hand with information and guidance for entrepreneurs.
The competition will last from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by the Tech Brew Mega Mixer (also a sponsor of the competition), offering an opportunity for high-tech professionals, cutting-edge entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders to network, with the exhibits and information booths open until 8:30 p.m.
Despite the current state of the economy and the financial industry, there are dollars available for compelling investment opportunities in the start-up and early-stage company space, and there are angel investors, themselves entrepreneurs, ready not only to put their dollars to work, but also to offer expertise, guidance, and even their direct management skills in some cases, to help businesses grow and succeed.
Entrepreneurs with start-ups and early-stage businesses seeking funding should view the Central Coast Innovation Showcase as a must-attend event, and should waste no time applying for and preparing for the competition.  It is difficult to know when, or even if, the financial industry will rebound to pre-recession levels of funding availability for start-up and early-stage financings, so my best advice is to jump at this chance to access a huge number of angel and other investors looking for places to put capital to work, whether you are looking to compete, or just to attend to gather information.
From an economic standpoint, especially for California and the tri-county area, our future depends on innovative companies that will bring new technologies and new jobs to the state, and events like the Central Coast Innovation Showcase will be a key driver of the development of new business and jobs for our future.

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