Home Podcast Giving Students & Academic Entrepreneurs a Spotlight at San Diego Startup Month

Giving Students & Academic Entrepreneurs a Spotlight at San Diego Startup Month

by Neal Bloom

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Watch the full episode on YouTube.


San Diego Startup Month is only a week away, and to kick off the excitement, we connected with members from the San Diego Innovation Council, Tech Coast Angels – San Diego, Connect w/ SDVG, and Startup San Diego to talk about the upcoming Inventors & Investors Pitch Competition on October 9, during SD Startup Month. They further discuss the jam-packed month of October and what our listeners can do to prepare for an event filled with engaging workshops, interactive experiences, and career building opportunities from the comfort of their own homes. 

Guests include: Tari Suprapto and Ruben Flores from San Diego Innovation Council, Caitlin Wege and Ashok Kamal from Tech Coast Angels (TCA – San Diego), and Alexa-Rae Navarro from Startup San Diego.

Listen in as the group discusses entrepreneurial diversity and opportunities in SD Startup Month with local investors and entrepreneurs. 

7:50 President of the San Diego Innovation Council, Ruben Flores, starts by explaining how events in the San Diego Innovation Council take place. Each year, the organization holds an Innovation Showcase with about thirty companies at varying stages of development to celebrate previous entrepreneurial successes and introduce a streamline of up-and-coming innovations in San Diego. While the event is directly open to anyone in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Irvine, and Arizona, investors from all around the world are invited to engage in investments and tech communities in the San Diego area. VP of San Diego Innovation Council, Tari Suprapto looks forward to watching it grow in the following years and excited for how this first time event, Inventors and Investors Pitch Competition, came to fruition

12:10 Quick Pitch competitions have paved the way for young entrepreneurs to engage with over 300 companies and investors to pitch their businesses and gain insight into the industry. However, this year with COVID-19, TCA – San Diego Executive Director Ashok Kamal details the lengths TCA and other organizations involved had to go to to ensure a successful virtual event with the Inventors & Investors Pitch Competition. Through TCA and sponsorships, he’s looking to expand and improve future events by ramping up the production, the quality, the audience, the cash prize, and much more. These competitions are about more than the pitches and companies; they’re about the collaboration and connections made by entrepreneurs, pitch coaches, judges, audience members, and the startup community. 

14:52 Startup San Diego Executive Director Alexa-Rae Navarro takes us through the process of pivoting from the traditional SD Startup Week event to the first-of-its-kind SD Startup Month event, just months after being onboarded. Alexa-Rae and her team started planning for the transition process in December, having to temporarily pause when news of the pandemic surfaced. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, she took the circumstances as an opportunity to pivot and embrace the situation. 

25:30 Alexa-Rae continues with Startup San Diego’s principal mission in launching the Startup Month experience: to connect, educate, and inspire local founders. At Startup Month, there is something for everyone. Whether someone is a founder, investor, tech worker, or a government representative, there are eight different tracks designed specifically for those with varying interests, skill sets, and backgrounds. To see what’s right for you, check out the schedule at https://www.sandiegostartupweek.com/schedule and apply the discount code TACOPOD30 for $30 off your tickets!

23:41 TCA – San Diego President Caitlin Wege, who advises student entrepreneurs at local universities, shares how SD Startup Month helps students gain access to resources and connections. There are dozens of student entrepreneurs in the San Diego area who have yet to be recognized since many of them are too busy with school or jobs to apply to pitch competitions and alumni events. So, with TCA – San Diego’s partnership with SDIC, they are able to directly focus on student innovations and partner with Startup San Diego to secure a platform and expand globally. In addition to workshops and competitions, Ashok discusses coaching, which aims to help entrepreneurs refine their pitches; this program helps frame a relationship between coaches and entrepreneurs.

37:07 As for judges, Ruben explains how he and his team choose the right people to judge these types of competitions. Firstly, they gather experts who have extensive experience in investing. They aim to garner people from varying industries to create a more diverse panel with a multitude of ideas, both judges and entrepreneurs. From there, they decide who would be the most willing and able to form connections with the entrepreneurs to build a greater tech community. These showcases are very beneficial for entrepreneurs, as they tend to gain partnerships, connections with different startups, and in some cases, investments. 

43:30 Alexa-Rae offers tips on making the most out of the virtual Startup Month experience. Starting October 1, there will be a plethora of events available to those who participate, so she advises them to start with the schedule and plan out the entire month so no important event goes unseen. 

Sign up for a month of interactive and groundbreaking experiences with discount code TACOPOD30 at SanDiegoStartupWeek.com, and engage with startups and tech workers from all over the San Diego tech community. 


Favorite local tacos

Tari: Mi Ranchito in Rancho Penasquitos

Ashok: Blue Water Seafood in Little Italy

Alexa: Pete’s Camp at San Felipe, Baja California

Caitlin: The Taco Stand in La Jolla and Puesto at the Headquarters

Ruben: Cotijas in Encinitas


Connect with:

Tari Suprapto on Linkedin

Ashok Kamal on Linkedin

Alexa-Rae on Linkedin

Caitlin Wege on Linkedin

Ruben Flores on Linkedin


Keep up with San Diego Innovation Council, San Diego Tech Coast Angels, and Startup San Diego:

Innovation council website: https://sdic.org/#home


San Diego Tech Coast Angels website: https://www.techcoastangels.com/


Startup San Diego website: https://startupsd.org/



Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.

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