A starting point for startups

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There are times when Dezzi Rae Marshall has to correct people.

“When I tell them that I live in Santa Clarita, they say, ‘Santa Clara?’” she relayed with a laugh. “’No, Santa Cla-RITA!’”

Unlike Santa Clara, a city of about 125,000 people nestled near San Jose in the famed Silicon Valley of California, Santa Clarita doesn’t have the reputation as a hotbed for innovation, venture capital and high technology. It’s one of Marshall’s goals to help that change that perception.

The president and co-founder of the Los Angeles Chapter of Pitch Globally Media, Marshall will emcee the group’s initial foray into the Santa Clarita Valley on May 3, a sharktank-style pitch event as part of the annual CalArts Expo, a daylong celebration of the use of technology in the visual and performing arts.

Dezzi Rae Marshall works as master of ceremonies at a recent Pitch Globally Media event in Los Angeles. Submitted photo

Like BuiltinLA.com, an online community for Los Angeles-area startups and tech companies that in January ranked Valencia as one of Southern California’s top five emerging tech areas, Marshall sees the SCV as a potentially pivotal piece of the puzzle for the future of innovation.

It’s a matter, in many cases, of simply introducing the area to startup founders, Marshall said.

“I am determined to take this beyond L.A.,” she said. “We have the chance (now) to highlight to the startup community that Santa Clarita is going to be a player. We’re more than Six Flags Magic Mountain.”

The hourlong Pitch Globally Media event at CalArts will give 10 startup founders an opportunity for two minutes in front of a panel of expert mentors and angel investors. On the line: An opportunity to win a private session with the panelist of his/her choice, plus the chance for an additional pitch to a panel of angel investors in the Silicon Valley.

Pitch presenters must be “beyond the ideation stage” and into the monetization phase of their company, Marshall said. Half of the 10 available pitch slots had already been filled as of Friday morning. Interested pitchers are asked to email Marshall at [email protected].

“We are cognizant of the fact that Santa Clarita is one of five emerging Los Angeles and Orange County tech areas to watch in 2018, so we’re excited to be a partner in its growth,” said Kaustav Chadhuri, an author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur who launched Pitch Globally Media in 2007. “Where there are no startup resources available in a specific geo-location, we aim to help create a startup ecosystem that will flourish. Where there are pockets of micro-ecosystems already in existence, we support those startup ecosystems, while being mindful and respectful of the need to maintain the unique flavor of the area.”

There’s an incentive for startup founders to pitch at this event, too: Pitch Globally Media has waived its pitch fee, typically $50-80, to encourage SCV innovators. Some pitch opportunities in the Silicon Valley can cost up to $2,000, Marshall said.

Of a free pitch opportunity, she said, “That’s hardly ever done.”

The L.A. chapter’s last pitch event, on Wednesday night at WeWork, a coworking space in downtown Los Angeles, attracted a standing-room-only crowd.

Marshall hopes to see the same in Santa Clarita.

“We’ve got the talent. We’ve got the resources. We’ve got the support (of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation),” she said. “Speaking of talent, look at all of the amazing talent we see out of CalArts.”

Indeed, CalArts seems a natural landing place for Pitch Globally Media’s SCV debut. The school’s annual showcase event, which will also include the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal’s inaugural Technology Awards, among other planned festivities, is set to feature about 400 exhibitions and some 700 students.

The SCVBJ’s list of honorees:

  • Stratasys (Tech Company of the Year)
  • Scott Capistrano of Status Not Quo (CEO of the Year)
  • Alfred Mann Foundation (Visionary Excellence)
  • Kaiser Permanente (Excellence in Innovation)
  • Swihart Studios (Excellence in Creativity)
  • NTS (Excellence in Engineering)
  • Gamma Alloys (On the Cutting Edge)
  • Jeremy Stepan (Techie of the Year)

In its seventh year, the Expo provides a unique opportunity for CalArts’ most imaginative minds to further explore the limits of their creativity. This year’s event, for the first time, will include a keynote address, from CalArts alum Jorge Gutierrez, an Emmy and Annie Award-winning animator, writer and director.

If you go

What: The 2018 California Institute of the Arts Expo and Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal Technology Awards.
When: Thursday, May 3. The CalArts Expo will be from 2 p.m.-2 a.m. The SCVBJ Technology Awards will be from 6-6:30 p.m.
Where: Sharon Disney Lund Theater, CalArts campus, 24700 McBean Pkwy., Valencia.
On the web: CalArts Expo – art.calarts.edu/events/2018-calarts-expo; SCVBJ Technology Awards – scvbj.com/technology-may-2018/.

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