Three Social Entrepreneurs Win “Shark Tank” Style Competition at Saddleback College

Dr. Burnett Moderating

Social entrepreneurs representing 11 start-up companies pitched their business plans that seek to address complex social problems at the Southern California Social Entrepreneur Venture Challenge Showdown on Saturday, March 19th at Saddleback College’s McKinney Theatre. A panel of esteemed judges selected the first, second, and third place contestants, who will present their businesses at an investor-only symposium in Los Angeles on May 6th to win funding, customers, and business partners.

The event, which was organized by Academies for Social Entrepreneurship, was the second Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition, first hosted by Saddleback College in 2014, which awarded $17,500 in cash prizes to the first, second, and third place competitors, and offered coaching services to help all 11 finalists make their final pitches to social investors.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College and moderator of the event, stated, “The showdown was a culmination of over eight months’ effort to identify and support social entrepreneurs who are addressing social, environmental, and educational challenges around the world. Thank you to all of our finalists for their amazing leadership, diligence, professionalism, and devotion to making our world a better place.”

The panel of judges selected the first, second, and third place presentations:

First Place:
Takachar (Cambridge, MA)
Pioneered process for decentralized processing of agricultural waste into solid fuel.

Second Place:
codeSpark (Pasadena, CA)
codeSpark’s mission is to ignite curiosity about computer science and turn programming into play.

Third Place:
Desolenator (London, UK)
Desolinator produces an affordable, eco-friendly household water purification/desalination device.

The eight additional finalists included:

Colibri (Matagalpa, Nicaragua)
Colibri sells pay-as-you-go solar solutions to low-income, off-grid households.

COMPRA (Los Angeles, CA)
COMPRA is a foods-purchasing cooperative that serves as an alternative food distribution system in underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Copilots in Care (Menlo Park, CA)
Copilots facilitates reflection and communication of patients’ medical wishes to their family members and physicians.

East Africa Fruits (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania)
Using a franchising model to sell fresh fruits and vegetables while reducing losses suffered by farmers selling to meddlemen.

Music Lifeboat (Los Angeles, CA)
A music education program that began with a free music education app, BandBlast.

Microfarms (San Diego, CA)
A San Diego based, veteran-owned and operated farm that grows organic produce hydroponically in a solar-powered “FarmBox.”

MUrgency (San Franciso, CA)
A mobile app which connects people who need emergency response with their trusted network. Provides support that is currently unavailable in most developing countries.

Thrive LA (Encino, CA)
Ultra-affordable, off-grid tiny houses and jobs within the community. The first community will focus on returning veterans and homeless veterans. Winner of the Audience Favorite Award.

The panel of judges included:

Iosefa Alofaituli, Regional Director, Opportunity Fund
Douglas K. Freeman, Founder, National Philanthropy Day
Michael Hamilton, Chair, President, Saddleback College Foundation
Andy Horowitz, Entrepeneur and Advisory Board Chair, Chapman University Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics
Elsa Monte, Senior Vice President of Community Reinvestment and Community Development, Pacific Western Bank
Kyle Scrimgeour, Principal and Managing Member, Core Capital Management, LLC
Donald J. Voska, Chief Financial Officer, Goodwill of Orange County

Lead sponsors of the Southern California Social Entrepreneur Venture Challenge were Saddleback College, the California Community Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation. Additional sponsors were Pacific Western Bank, Goodwill of Orange County, and the Southern California Slow Money Network.

For more information about social entrepreneurship, visit http://www.academies-se.org/.

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