Judges awarded three San Diego companies a total of $75,000 at this year's John G. Watson Quick Pitch competition.

Judges awarded three San Diego companies a total of $75,000 at this year's John G. Watson Quick Pitch competition. Photo by Elise Reuter

Three San Diego startups won a total of $75,000 in San Diego’s biggest quick pitch event to date. With three sponsors, this year’s John G. Watson Quick Pitch Competition brought in record levels of attendance — and funding — packing Qualcomm Hall up to the highest balconies.

Tech Coast Angels and the San Diego Venture Group teamed up again to host the event. This year also brought a new partner, Cox Business, after the company hosted its own pitch competition in 2017.

From the ten finalists, a panel of judges picked the top three winners:

• Neuralace Medical, a medical device company that seeks to relieve chronic nerve pain without the use of opioids, was the judges’ top pick, winning the top prize of $50,000. The company raised a $1.1 million seed round, and is in the process of raising a $2 million series A round to secure FDA approval.

• In second place, Yembo, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help coordinate moving, won $10,000. Yembo was also the audience’s top pick (judged by who brought the loudest cheers), bringing in an additional $10,000.

• In third place, Lynx Biosciences Inc. won $5,000. The startup develops personalized cancer treatments for patients by putting a cancer cell biopsy in a simulated natural environment, and testing its response to different treatments.

San Diego Venture Group President Mike Krenn said this year’s judging committee fielded more than 280 applications before narrowing the pool down to the top 10 finalists.

“Our focus was on picking companies that were fundable, scalable and capable of creating a truly tremendous company going forward,” he said.

Even for the companies that didn’t win, the exposure in front of a large audience of investors can lead to future funding. In the past, Tech Coast Angels has invested more than $3 million in Quick Pitch participants. Read the full list of finalists here.