San Diego-based Uqora Wins SD InnovateHER Pitch Contest

 In Entrepreneurship, Funding, InnovateHER, Pitch Competition, Startup

Jenna Ryan of Uqora was among 12 entrepreneurs who pitched their innovative women- and family-focused products and services

The Padres aren’t the only San Diegans on the mound. Last night, 12 local entrepreneurs pitched their startup ideas to a panel of investors and advisors during a qualifying competition hosted by business accelerators Stella Labs and UCSD’s mystartupXX. Jenna Ryan of Uqora walked away with the win by demonstrating that her women’s health company and its drink mix which provides defense against urinary-tract infections (UTIs) has the potential to make a measurable impact on the lives of women.

As the winner, she will advance to be considered for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) InnovateHER Finals, which take place in September. Ten winners from local InnovateHER competitions taking place across the U.S., will be selected to compete in the SBA’s InnovateHER 2017 finals in Washington D.C. for one of three top prizes totaling $70,000. According to the SBA, only about seven percent of venture capital funding in the United States goes to women.

As winner of the regional InnovateHER competition, Ryan was awarded an in-kind donation of mentoring by Seed San Diego, valued at $1,000. Uqora’s health supplement was inspired by the numerous women who suffer from repeated UTIs. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, more than 50 percent of women will get a UTI in their lifetime, and many suffer from repeat infections.

“Uqora is a game changer—it could be the next Airborne for women,” said Dr. Silvia Mah, Stella Labs’ executive director. “We were particularly impressed with her presentation and the fact that her product was clearly female-focused.”

Uqora is a game changer—it could be the next Airborne for women

During the event, companies ranging from fintech and biotech startups to social enterprises, consumer products and services providers had five minutes to pitch their business concept and answer questions in front of a panel of five judges and an audience of more than 100 community members.

Kiddie Commute transportation services was named the audience choice winner and was awarded mentoring with Smart Money Startups, valued at $1,000. The two runners-up were Alembra Medical whose medical device detects UTIs in aging populations and NotesFirst which provides mobile medical records for doctors in emerging markets. The two runners-up will receive mentoring from Hera Angels.

Startups and small businesses selected among 47 applications to join Thursday’s pitch challenge included: Robin Ihnfeldt of General Engineering & Research, Kayte Torreão da Costa of DIVONA, Tamara Zubatiy of HapiFlo, Remy Meraz of Me Tyme Network, Sabrina Qutb of Diario, Niranjanjaa Jeeva of Amniotic Wrap, Jade Dadiz of RistRoller and Chiara Dorigo of Greyble.

“I’m blown away by the support that Stella Labs and mystartuppXX have given to the entrepreneur community here in San Diego,” said Jenna Ryan, CEO of Uqora. “I’m excited to be considered for the InnovateHER Challenge in DC. I admire the SBA’s dedication to supporting businesses that have a measurable impact on the lives of women—something I think about every day at Uqora.”

Seven additional companies were selected to showcase products and services that impact the lives of women and families in San Diego including: Syp Vandy Siligato of Live Offline, Fatim Bahh of Fatim Bahh, Brandie Kekoa of Be Kekoa, Vivien Francis of PilLoveTalk, Paola Sa of UP-CY-CLE, Jennifer Niezgoda of La Gracia, and Frances Prado & Dr. Melinda Silva of Hanging Secrets.

Contest judges included Ken Davenport, CEO of Mission Edge; Adriana Guetter, co-founder and executive president of Lumnus Consulting; Allison Long Pettine, partner and founder of Seed San Diego; Irma Ramos, advisor for South San Diego Small Business Development Center and Briana Weisinger, startup advocate at UC San Diego and member of the board of directors at Stella Labs.

Allison Long Pettine, an astute and well-respected VC in San Diego said about the InnovateHER pitch and winner, the following: “InnovateHer is a fantastic platform that allows female entrepreneurs to share their ideas with other members and stakeholders of the San Diego innovation ecosystem. The competition aspect encourages all applicants and presenters to elevate their standards while providing a supportive and inspiring environment for founders. The federal sponsorship of InnovateHER is a visible demonstration to participants, judges, and attendees of the pitch event that supporting female founders and inventors in their endeavors to change the world is indeed a worthy cause. All of the pitches were polished and impressive, and the winner Uqora not only had a clear, concise pitch, but the product addressed a real pain that affect millions of women on a regular basis. As women’s health becomes more and more of a priority in our nation, products and tools that empower women to take charge of their own health will become increasingly important and valuable.

“The federal sponsorship of InnovateHER is a visible demonstration to participants, judges, and attendees of the pitch event that supporting female founders and inventors in their endeavors to change the world is indeed a worthy cause.” -ALP

Irma Ramos, Business Advisor at the South San Diego Small Business Development Center, and InnovateHER judge, said about the InnovateHER competition, “I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of entrepreneurs whose innovative minds go beyond peoples’ expectations. I believe that the InnovateHER’s competition further emphasizes San Diego’s innovation economy by making possible for all. It gives women an opportunity to make their dreams a reality. It serves as an encouragement for all, where every innovative idea is possible.”

“InnovateHER gives women an opportunity to make their dreams a reality.” -IR

Adriana Guetter, President of Lumnus Consulting and InnovateHER judge, said, “InnovateHER competition impacts the San Diego innovation ecosystem: the competition supports and sheds light to startups that are making a difference in important issues revolving women’s lives. By creating this environment of support to those companies we incentivize their development and success.”

“The competition supports & sheds light to startups that are making a difference in important issues revolving women’s lives.” -AG

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