CVEP and Riverside County Office of Economic Development have 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, Coachella Valley Fast Pitch, hosted by CVEP.

Coachella Valley Fast Pitch was held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Palm Desert iHub on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Entrepreneurs and innovators from all across the Coachella Valley applied to pitch their ideas to a panel of four expert judges, plus a fifth judge: the audience. Four entrepreneurs were ultimately selected to participate. For the first time ever, this year’s Coachella Valley Fast Pitch also included student pitch presentations from entrepreneurship students at California State University San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus.

Both Startup Winners Opt to Donate Their Prizes

Earning first place in the startup pitch competition was Guy Assif, CEO of Moducan Corporation. Moducan Corporation, a client company of the Palm Springs iHub, designs advanced temporary shelters for emergency needs, disaster relief, and defense applications. Assif declined his $750 prize, choosing instead to donate it back to CVEP to support young people pursuing entrepreneurship.

“I was truly touched by the young students who obviously are cultivating a dream to be innovators. They are lucky to have you and your team to support and encourage them,” Mr. Assif said of his decision to donate his cash prize.

As the first-place winner, Mr. Assif will move forward to represent the Coachella Valley startup ecosystem at the Riverside County Fast Pitch Finale, to be held in Riverside on Thursday, April 27, 2023, where total prizes will exceed $15,000.

Capturing second place in the startup pitch competition was Rossana Jeran, Co-founder and CEO of Hello Computer, Inc., a company that develops educational apps to build and support early childhood literacy. Inspired, Ms. Jeran elected to decline her $250 prize, also choosing to donate it to CVEP to support ongoing entrepreneurial programs.  Hello Computer, Inc. is a client company of the Palm Desert iHub.

Also competing were Rancho Mirage resident Eric Cunningham with an innovative lifestyle brand called Raise Your Glass, and Cathedral City resident Nia Ruth, founder of Few & Far.

CSUSB Entrepreneurship Students Presented Outstanding Business Concepts

Among the student competitors, first place went to Lesley Jimenez for her mobile bar concept, Tragos Movil, and second place was earned by Melannie Espinoza for her wellness retreat concept, Ethereal Health.

Riverside County Innovation Month is an opportunity to focus the spotlight on the Inland Empire as an ideal location for business, entrepreneurship, and innovation. In the Coachella Valley, Innovation Month is an especially great opportunity to change the narrative about the culture of the region, and to position the Valley as much more than what it is typically known for. While it is true that the Coachella Valley is the ultimate destination for festivals, entertainment, and lifestyle, it is increasingly becoming a world class destination for leading-edge innovation.

Sponsors of this year’s Coachella Valley Fast Pitch event were Hunter|Johnsen, Massage Envy, CSUSB School of Entrepreneurship, and UCR Palm Desert Center. Promotional partners included Riverside County Office of Economic Development and Desert Business Association.