top of page

Lauchpad 2024: UCSC's 7th Annual Business Pitch Competition


Join Us for the 7th Annual UCSC Business Pitch Contest! 

May 29, 2024 at the Cocoanut Grove, Santa Cruz

Unlock the potential of tomorrow with the brightest minds at UCSC and Cabrillo College! Witness innovative startups and groundbreaking ideas as they compete for over $40,000 in cash prizes at the annual Business Pitch Contest. This is a marquee event where creativity meets opportunity, bringing together students, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders.

What to Expect

  • Innovative Startups: Explore a diverse range of startup pitches from UCSC and Cabrillo students. From tech innovations to sustainable solutions, see firsthand the future of business.

  • Substantial Prizes: With more than $40,000 on the line, each participating team has the chance to win big and take their startup to the next level.

  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with industry giants and rising stars. Discover hundreds of job opportunities ranging from internships and summer jobs to entry-level positions at leading companies like Amazon, Google, Joby Aviation, CruzFoam, and Zero Motorcycles.

  • Mentorship and Development: Each of the 12 finalists will receive two weeks of intensive coaching from experienced mentors in their fields, polishing their pitches to perfection.

  • Cash Prizes for All Finalists: Every team that makes it to the final round will not leave empty-handed; each will receive a cash prize to help fuel their entrepreneurial journey.


Event Highlights

  • Pitch Contest: Dive into the competitive spirit of the event as finalists present their business models to a panel of expert judges.

  • Job Fair: Following the pitch contest, stay for the job fair where winners will be announced and networking opportunities abound. Meet your future employer or your next business partner.


Don't Miss Out!
Whether you're a student, an investor, or just curious about the next big thing, the UCSC Business Pitch Contest is an event you won't want to miss. Mark your calendar for May 29, 2024, and be part of shaping the future of innovation.

Join us at the Cocoanut Grove to celebrate innovation, ambition, and the entrepreneurial spirit.



  • Biotech/Health (QB3) = $6,000 

  • Social Impact = $6,000 

  • Technology = $6,000 

  • Community Impact = $2,000 

  • Runners up =  $2,000 

  • People’s Choice Award = $2,000 

  • Special Climate Action = $10,000* from UCSC's IBE Hub  

- Top winners eligible to participate in SCA program.


The criteria that the judges will be using: 

  • Overall presentation - communication, visuals, organization, flow, content, time management, and q&a

  • Innovation - originality, unique advantage, competition

  • Impact Potential - ability to create positive change, solve problems, meet unmet needs, benefit society

  • Business model - understanding of market, cost structure, scalability

  • Feasibility - market research, technological feasibility, financial viability, resources and skills, target market and competition, unique value proposition

  • Team -  passion, enthusiasm, skills, adaptability, roles, well rounded

  • X-Factor 

Meet the Judges from the 6th Annual UCSC Launchpad Business Pitch 2023!

Screen Shot 2023-08-09 at 8.06.25 PM.png

Last year, we had a very successful Santa Cruz Launchpad 2023, which entailed UCSC's 6th Annual UCSC Business Pitch Awards and Santa Cruz Works Job Fair - over 25 companies, 100s of jobs, at the Cocoanut Grove. The pitch competition was a great event with 21 undergraduate student teams from UCSC competing for $50,000 in cash prizes. 

We had five judges:

  • Tze Yee (G.E.) built out the content operations team and helped launch the Google Play Music

  • Tina Bullington UCSC's Executive Fellow of the Everett Program.

  • Local LeBaron Meyers is a business development executive, leadership and communication coach,

  • Bindu Gakhar is the Head of Product & Design at Silicon Valley Unicorn Paystand, a blockchain-based B2B payments company

  • David Schwartz is a retired Department Chair Geology, Oceanography & Environmental Science at Cabrillo College

The Winners from Launchpad 2023!

All participating teams were given access to “Perks Package” with access to over a million dollars worth of credits and services coordinated by Santa Cruz Works. Teams gained access to free AWS credits and access to local legal and business consultants.


Following the pitch contest, the event also featured a hiring fair with more than two dozen local employers looking to hire graduating Slugs.

This event was produced and facilitated by staff at Santa Cruz Works, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development, the UCSC Career Success, and the Campus’ Innovation and Business Engagement Hub with additional sponsorship from Cabrillo College. Big thanks to Engineering for gifts to our esteemed  Mentors and Judges. The prize money was sponsored by the NSF I-Corp.

Here's a list of all the participants:

      Team Name                        Tagline                                                                                     

  • Simplified Marketing         Generating consistent, scalable revenue growth for Residential Solar Businesses

  • Closed Loop                       The 'Redhat' for Industrial Robots on Earth and Space, Operating System for                                                             Autonmous  Systems  -  1st Prize: $10,000

  • Plexigraph                           First privacy-first web marketplace  -  Runner Up: $2,000

  • BioGenesis                          Trials 3-sided network of patients (without access to clinical research), clinical sites,                                                   and emerging biopharma trial sponsors  -  Tech Prize: $6,000

  • Wako Ai                               Reducing the barrier of human-computer interaction through conversational AI                                                         speech technologies  -   Runner Up: $2,000

  • ABSA                                   Automatic Book Scanner Attachment Cheap, fast, and accessible book scanning

  • DoTract                                Making daily agreements and relationships easier to manage for individuals and                                                       professionals alike

  • Helperly                               Mobile application that brings people together to end homelessness -                                                                       Runner up: $2,000

  • Collegiate                            Makes the college application easier through AI personal branding and editing                                                        tools  -  Runner up: $2,000

  • PatchedUP                          We hire artists to repair damaged clothes in stylistic ways, thereby limiting clothing                                                   waste and encouraging creativity  -  Local impact: $1,000

  • Electric Slugs                       Converting bicycles and light motorcycles into electric, to help transportation at                                                        UCSC  -  Local impact: $1,000

  • Cruz Cooker                        The next evolution in rice cooking appliances.

  • Rug Slug                              Robot that cleans stains in rugs

  • Astrograph                           Enabling astrophotography and astronomy by tracking and avoiding satellites.

  • Guardian Angel                   Product that protects infants from SIDS and heat stroke if they are left unattended                                                    in a car -  Social Impact Prize: $6,000  &  Popular Vote Prize: $4,000

  • Sparkle                                 Empowering everyone to participate in the green transition. Save money and save                                                    the planet.

  • Vigama                                 AI companion for personalized guidance, emotional support, and life coaching

  • FarmItUp!                             Combines innovative vertical farm technology with stunning, customizable designs                                                   that elevate any space   -   Runner up: $2,000  &  Climate Action Award: $10,000                                                       provided by the Innovation & Business Engagement Hub through the UC Santa                                                       Cruz Climate Action Solutions Catalyst Program.

  • SOL aka "Stick on Light'     Stickable lights to improve safety for bikers

  • Farm Fresh                           Giving farm-to-table a new meaning

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Screen Shot 2023-08-09 at 8.06.04 PM.png
unnamed (3).png
bottom of page