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chemical processes that convert lignin, a byproduct of biomass processing, into high-value fuels and chemicals that are currently only produced from petroleum processing.
—Best Pitch: Snapizzi, a Santa Barbara, CA-based startup that provides software to professional photographers for tagging and matching photos, as well as other products related to digital photography.
Dos Santos says he joined the Tech Coast Angels and volunteered to become a judge for the quick pitch event as part of a personal goal to bring the two groups closer. “I want to make it synergistic,” dos Santos told me by telephone after the event. “We don’t sponsor the Tech Coast Angels itself, just the quick pitch event.”
Dos Santos says he views the angels’ quick pitch event as similar to a program he founded within Qualcomm, called Venture Fest. It is basically an internal business plan competition that was formed within the Qualcomm Innovation Network, which was itself created as an “idea management system” for the more than 15,400 people who work for Qualcomm worldwide. Among other things, the network manages a Web-based tool that allows Qualcomm employees around the world to share, collaborate, and vet their ideas and innovations.
Dos Santos says he wants to recruit members of San Diego’s Tech Coast Angels to help counsel the employee-entrepreneurs enrolled in Venture Fest. “We’re trying to create an entrepreneurial culture here,” Dos Santos says. “I want a sort of a center of excellence to help our own entrepreneur-minded employees get results.”
Dos Santos says Qualcomm can provide some funding to help employees develop good ideas, and the Qualcomm Innovation Network typically selects 10 to 15 of the most-promising ideas to participate in a 3-month “bootcamp” program for in-house entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, a group of finalists are selected to make an internal presentation to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and other “C-level” executives in a bid to win corporate venture capital funding, or to get their innovation integrated in Qualcomm’s technology roadmap. “My Venture Fest is more elaborate,” dos Santos says, “because I need to partner with employees and bring in people from outside Qualcomm to help coach them.”