Greater Palm Springs is a pretty exciting place to live, and certain times of the year are even more exciting than others. Spring is one of those times. Wildflowers are blooming (please, don’t trample them); some of the region’s biggest events are happening (BNP Paribas Open just wrapped up, Desert X is in full swing, and Coachella is but a few weeks away); and those of us in the world of business and entrepreneurship are gearing up for one of our personal favorites: Riverside County Innovation Month.

Unlike Coachella, Innovation Month won’t attract tens of thousands of 20-somethings in carefully-chosen festival attire. But Innovation Month does draw crowds, and gives us the opportunity to look beyond the region’s more obvious entertainment. It’s a chance to discover some of the hidden talent that’s all around us.

Innovation Month Events

Hosting a county-wide celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation would be hard to do in any part of the country. Considering the size of Riverside County, it becomes an even more impressive feat. Riverside County is one of the nation’s largest: 10th when measured by population, and 26th when measured by area. With more than 2 million people, it could be easy for rising innovators to go unnoticed if they haven’t yet made a big splash. The spotlight shines on these innovators during Innovation Month.

Activities begin in Riverside on April 2 with the Innovation Month Kickoff, featuring seasoned entrepreneurs Ronaldo Fierro (The Salted Pig) and Jay Goth (Precision Medicine and Blockchain). For the rest of the month, there are activities spread all across the county, and you’ll find something happening nearly every day. Tech meetups, networking events, entrepreneurship talks, and new-business openings are just some of the innovation-focused activities happening across the county.

Greater Palm Springs Fast Pitch

We’re partial, but at CVEP, our favorite event is the one we’ll hold on April 11: Greater Palm Springs Fast Pitch. Like a hometown version of Shark Tank, entrepreneurs have only five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Applications are being accepted through the end of March, so if you have a business idea that is ready to be shared with the world, we encourage you to apply!

Aside from the fact that the Fast Pitch is entertaining and fun, it serves a real purpose. If participants have never pitched their business idea before, it’s great practice. It’s helpful to pitch for the first time to a friendly audience, rather than starting in front of a group of intimidating venture capitalists. Prior to and after the competition, participating entrepreneurs receive valuable coaching and real-world feedback. This feedback is invaluable to an aspiring entrepreneur.

We do recognize that entrepreneurial journey isn’t for everyone, and if it’s not your thing, you can still participate. Attending the Fast Pitch is free, and you’ll get to vote for your favorite contestant. Winners receive cash prizes and progress to the Countywide finale, held on May 2. Take a look at Riverside County Innovation Month’s whole calendar of events to plan your own Innovation Month adventure.