In late September, Startup Grind hosted its annual event in Los Angeles’s Skirball Cultural Center. In attendance were over 1,000 entrepreneurs, 50 speakers, and 50 of Southern California’s hottest startups demoing their innovative technologies. The startups were also competing for bragging rights for the SoCal Startup of the Year and for a grand prize entry to the 500 Startups Accelerator Program.
The top 20 startups were selected and inducted into the 2016 Startup Program SoCal. A few of these inductees worth mentioning include Local Roots, an indoor vertical farming company, Bambino, an app to connect parents to local trusted babysitters, and Pipsqueak, a smart phone for kids. All the companies had to meet certain thresholds to ensure the competition was tough but fair.
A second round of judging took place to narrow the twenty down to four. These four companies than had the chance to fast pitch their business. The fast pitch stage consisted of an audience of 50-60 entrepreneurs and investors. Then came an unexpected entertainment factor: As the judge entered the room, the audience was asked to stand and wait for “your honor” to be seated. The dialogue moving forward revolved around a true courtroom setting complete with the judge holding a gavel. Humorous puns and scoldings made up much of the commentary.
Kyle Cherrick went on stage first representing Pick My Solar and nailed both the pitch and the Q&A. After the fast pitches were complete and a thorough deliberation by the judges, Pick My Solar was crowned the 2016 SoCal Startup of the Year. As part of that prize, Pick My Solar was also invited to 500 Startups next accelerator batch in February. 500 Startups is a top 3 accelerator in the world located in Mountain View, California. This accelerator program focuses on sales and growth, perfect for Pick My Solar’s launch into new markets.
For Pick My Solar, the 2016 SoCal Startup of the Year award adds to an ever growing trophy case. In 2015, Pick My Solar was named Techweek LA Champion, Techweek National Champion, and an awardee of the Department of Energy Sunshot Catalyst program. Earlier last year Pick My Solar was also named as a 2015 Outstanding Small Business by Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. Pick My Solar also holds the 2014 grand prize award Kaufmann Foundation’s Innovation Fund SoCal. With expansion into six new markets this year, an acquisition of Solar Merchant (a commercial solar focused startup), and a growing talented team, next year shows promise for multi-market growth.