The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP), Desert Business Association (DBA), and Riverside County Office of Economic Development joined forces again this April to celebrate Riverside County Innovation Month. As part of the monthlong celebration of innovation, local entrepreneurs and the public were invited to participate in the region’s signature Innovation Month event, 2024 Coachella Valley Fast Pitch, hosted by CVEP, DBA, and the City of Cathedral City.

Coachella Valley Fast Pitch was held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Cathedral City Council Chambers on Friday, April 12, 2024.

Entrepreneurs and innovators from all across the Coachella Valley applied to pitch their ideas to a panel of three expert judges, plus a fourth judge: the audience. Four entrepreneurs were ultimately selected to participate. This year’s Coachella Valley Fast Pitch also included a Student Pitch Showcase, featuring presentations from College of the Desert business and entrepreneurship students.

“This competition is designed to highlight the amazing innovators in our region,” said Laura James, CVEP’s Interim CEO. “Highlighting our region’s innovators – alongside bright young students pursuing entrepreneurial ventures – as part of a highly visible, county-wide competition helps us break the stereotype of the Valley as just a golf and retirement destination. And by changing the narrative, we make the region more attractive to investors.”

And the Winners Are…

Earning first place in the startup pitch competition was Rossana Jeran, CEO of Hello Computer, Inc., a social purpose technology company with a signature AI-driven content engine that can power apps for education, literacy, therapeutic, and entertainment purposes. Hello Computer, Inc. is a Palm Springs iHub portfolio company.

“What a thrill and honor to win 1st Place in the Coachella Valley Fast Pitch! Fueled by my passion for technology and social impact, the idea of advancing to the county competition propels me forward with determination and purpose,” said Jeran after winning the top prize package, valued at $1,000.

As the first-place winner, Jeran will move forward to represent the Coachella Valley startup ecosystem at the Riverside County Fast Pitch Finale, to be held in Riverside on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

Capturing second place in the startup pitch competition and receiving a $200 cash prize was Kyle Aquino, CEO of NVIS.AI. A cybersecurity company, NVIS.AI provides remote workers with ultra-secure access to company networks from anywhere.

Winning the Audience Favorite Award was Prema Walker, founder of Prema’s Permaculture and Composting, a company that seeks to divert food waste from landfills and encourage sustainable agriculture practices.

This year’s judges were Jeffrey Bernstein, Mayor of Palm Springs; Todd Hooks, Director of Economic Development, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; and Jake Wuest, Market President, FirstBank.

KESQ News Channel 3 was on site to provide coverage of the event. Sponsors of this year’s Coachella Valley Fast Pitch event were BCreative LLC, Brumer Law Group, Hunter|Johnsen, Roadrunner Print and Ship, and Desert Hand Car Wash Cathedral City.