Past PITCH Finalist: Winning Is Helping Us Bring Solar Power to Rural Africa

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The latest in our series of posts. Leslie Marincola talks about how PITCH convinced more people to support her dream of cheaper, cleaner power for the rural poor. 

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By Dana Rosenberg (PITCH Competition Coordinator, Women 2.0)

We’ve assembled 20 great judges to sift through applications to PITCH at our conference at the fabulous Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas on November 14th and November 15th 2013. Why should you participate? Just ask a past finalist.

In our fifth year now, PITCH has brought together thousands of members of the Women 2.0 community to connect, learn from one another, and form meaningful long-lasting relationships. But, what we hadn’t predicted is how great of an impact the startup competition would have on female founders and the companies they build.

Past PITCH Startup Competition Finalists have gone on to raise $1.2 million in seed funding, join the ranks of 500 Startups and Y Combinator, and be acquired by the likes of Yahoo!. Others, have found the competition to be a tremendous learning experience, networking opportunity, and feedback session that helped propel their company forward.

In the spirit of recognizing some of our past finalists (and hopefully encouraging you to apply), we’re running this series of quick profiles highlighting the experience of PITCH participants.

Lesley Marincola, Founder & CEO of Angaza Design (PITCH SF 2013)

Lesley Marincola is the founder and CEO of Angaza Design, an internationally-focused company that is eliminating the upfront price barrier of solar energy in off-grid markets with an embedded Pay-As-You-Go technology. A product designer (B.S.) and mechanical engineer (M.S.) from Stanford University, Lesley has also worked at Amazon (Lab126) with the Amazon Kindle design team, and at Bay Area design consultancy, D2M Inc. with clients including DirecTV, Genentech, Qualcomm, and Volkswagen. Lesley was named a Forbes "30 Under 30" Entrepreneur, is a World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper, and is a 2013 Echoing Green Fellow. Lesley’s vision is to solve the world’s most widespread problems – like energy access – with market-driven technology innovation developed from a human-centered design approach.

Why did you decide to apply to PITCH?

Angaza is tearing down the upfront cost barrier of solar energy in off-grid emerging markets like rural East Africa. We decided to apply to PITCH for the opportunity to present our business model to hundreds of people in one setting with the goal of getting many more people excited about the innovation opportunities in overlooked markets like Africa.

How did pitching as a finalist impact you or your company?

Winning the 2013 PITCH SF competition was a wonderful experience because it reinforced, to our team and the outside world, that Angaza's technology and growth prospects rivaled those of more traditional mobile tech startups in Silicon Valley. As a direct result of presenting at PITCH, we received support from investors, write-ups in various media outlets, and new mentors and helpful contacts.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

Feeling the love from the audience and fellow presenters! Countless tweets, blog posts, and in-person congratulations showed us that Angaza's focus on solving the global need for energy access with a market-driven approach really resonated with people.

What's one piece of advice you have for future applicants or finalists?

Know your audience and anticipate the questions you will be asked. None of them should be a surprise to you. Practice your presentation with people who know nothing about your business and ask them to tell you all the reasons why your business won't work. That way, you'll have an answer and a game plan for any "tough questions" that come your way!

Interested in being part of the conference? Tickets are still available. Want an extra 30% off? Get a Women 2.0 membership! And…if you are a tech startup, with less than $1M in funding and at least one female founder, apply to PITCH!  dana_rosenber_profile_imgDana Rosenberg is Director of Business Development at Rock Health. She manages strategic partnerships and sponsorships across the incubator, events and research. Prior to Rock Health, Dana led user acquisition, engagement, marketing and PR at HealthTap and was a consultant at Easton Associates, a healthcare strategy consulting firm. Follow her on Twitter at @DanaRosenberg.