San Diego Cleantech startup Aquam LLC took home first place — and $5,000 in prize money — at this year’s Hera Venture Summit.
Hosted by Hera Labs, a startup accelerator for women-led companies, the event is meant to bring female founders together with potential investors. As part of the event, the organization put on a pitch competition this year including four companies: NotesFirst, Lacti-Cups, Dermala, and Aquam.
Winner Aquam, headed by Orianna Bretschger, pitched a business plan centered on microbial fuel cell systems that clean wastewater and turn the waste into electricity.
The company took home the $5,000 in non-dilutive financing, along with advisory services from early-stage investor group SEED San Diego, and mentoring from SmartMoney Startups.
The small prize money isn’t the real draw of the event, however. The hope is that startup founders will meet angel investors to contribute to future fundraising rounds.
Samantha Urban, the founder of software startup Urban Translations, said she’s attended the event two years in a row and raised $400,000 by forming investor connections at the event.
“Two out of two times, I’ve been invested in,” Urban said at the event. “You can’t expect an investment to happen right away…you have to be persistent.”
The event attracted 200 attendees this year, and will return to San Diego next September.