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Friday, Apr 19, 2024

Environmental Car Wash Cleans Up Pitch Competition

A Gardena-based startup providing an on-demand car wash service swept the competition at the Get Started OC business pitch competition on April 20, hosted by Irvine-based Cox Business and New York City-based Inc. magazine.

ENVi, a mobile service that uses biodegradable cleaners without water, won the first-place prize of $10,000—$5,000 in cash and $5,000 in communication services from Cox Business, Cox Communications’ $1.8 billion division that provides video, voice and data telecommunications to businesses. It also won the People’s Choice award chosen by the audience. It was the only startup to pitch from the wild card round and then went on to beat the five finalists.

Chad Zani founded ENVi—so named for the first four letters of “environment”—about a year ago and said he was shocked to win as the only wild card entry in the finals.

Zani said he’ll put the cash directly into the company’s social media marketing strategy to grow its customer base and brand recognition. Customers can make an appointment for a same-day car wash through ENVi’s app or make a future appointment through its website.

ENVi started in L.A. and has already branched out to parts of OC. Zani’s looking for a new location for its headquarters.

“I’m hoping to work with UCI or another kind of incubator that’s helping startups,” he said. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t be based in OC if we can find someone willing to help or support us.”

The Raise

A new game show for university startups called “The Raise” filmed its debut episode April 21 at Chapman University’s Dodge School of Film & Media Arts.

The show is the brainchild of Ken Hubbard, president of Private Capital Network, an OC angel investment group.

It’s modeled on “Shark Tank” but is for college students and is unique because it incorporates audience and judges’ votes. The audience interaction was the idea of Janice Varney-Hamlin, founder of Varney Consulting in Long Beach.

The founders and chief executives of college startups compete against each other by answering questions from investor-advisers who serve as the show’s judges. The debut episode featured three Chapman student entrepreneurs. The winner was Alex Jekowsky, founder and chief executive of Ulyngo, an online platform for universities that enables students to buy, sell and promote items, services and events, such as cars, tutoring and fraternity parties. A 5% transaction fee is applied to every completed purchase. At the end of each year, the startup donates a percentage of collected fees back to the university as part of a revenue share program. Ulyngo is free for the schools that come on board.

A university such as Chapman, which has already signed on as a partner, would integrate Ulyngo’s platform into its website. At Chapman, the year-end donation will go toward building up the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship, its incubator in Orange, Jekowsky said.

“The Raise” winner gained the opportunity to compete in Chapman’s annual student entrepreneur competition, California Dreamin’, which took place April 23.

The long-term vision for the show is to provide a home for it on YouTube, “which is the medium for television viewing for the millennial and future generations,” Hubbard said. “The show will roll out with competitions among the myriad of universities and colleges that span North America, pitting longtime rival schools against one another while including one small school per show.”

More Winners

A biotech startup won first place at University of California-Irvine’s Blackstone LaunchPad’s inaugural Shark Tank Pitch competition. The LaunchPad is a campus entrepreneurship program at colleges around the country. Grads and undergrads from UCI, University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Southern California competed. The winner, Irvine-based Responsive Polymer Therapeutics, is developing technology to “switch off” antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The first disease it’s targeting is tuberculosis. The company won $2,500 cash from San Francisco-based Ideator, an online innovation platform connecting entrepreneurs around the world with resources, plus a $2,500 legal package for incorporation from Irvine-based Pivotal Law Firm Inc. … Startups founded by college students across the country competed in three separate competitions at California Dreamin’, presented by the Leatherby Center. One was an investor presentation where Lot Spot Inc. from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs won a $75,000 investment from IOC Ventures, a new investment fund from InnovateOC in Costa Mesa, as well as $5,000 cash and a $7,000 scholarship to Draper University in San Mateo. The winner of the fast pitch competition was ZymeKey from University of California-

San Diego, which has developed a blood coagulation test to provide additional information to existing diagnostic and research methods for thrombosis (a blood clot inside a blood vessel) and hemorrhaging. Founder Elaine Skowronski received $3,000 in cash. And there was a business narrative competition where InterWallet from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles won $3,000 in cash.

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