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Entrepreneurs pitch companies to investors at Startup Week Conejo Valley


A startup company makes a pitch to investors in Thousand Oaks on Feb. 18.

A startup company makes a pitch to investors in Thousand Oaks on Feb. 18.

Nine entrepreneurs pitched their companies to regional investors in Thousand Oaks on Feb. 18.

Companies from around the region and country pitched to investors, friends and family in attendance at the event by small business advocacy group 805 startups at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

The event was part of Startup Week Conejo Valley, which is a weeklong series of seminars designed to help entrepreneurs at the Cal Lutheran Center for Entrepreneurship in Westlake Village.

More than 100 people packed a small theater for the event. Judges and companies traveled from as far as Santa Monica and Los Angeles to participate.

One of the most interesting companies was Nashville, Tenn.-based SkyFall X, which makes parachutes for drones that automatically deploy when a sensor senses a drone is falling at unnatural angles and may be experiencing mechanical failures.

Founder Steve Smith said he started his company after he was nearly killed by a drone crash several years ago.

“There’s a lot of things that can happen,” Smith told the crowd. “Props can fail, motors can fail, batteries can fail. This is an epidemic.”

Smith said his company pays $39 to manufacturer the parachutes and they sell parachutes for $149. It’s also an easy add-on sale for large drone retailers.

Comic Blitz founder Jordan Plosky made the trek up Highway 101 from Los Angeles to present his vision for a company that may become the Netflix of comic books. Subscriptions of $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year give users unlimited access to comics on the Comic Blitz app.

Plosky pointed out the day of $1 comics are long gone, and print versions can cost as much as $4 each. Other digital platforms for comics have failed, but Plosky used to work for one of those competitors and said he’s piggybacking off what those companies learned from failures.

The company released an app for iPads last year and released an app for iPhones at the beginning of February.

Commutes to the event were lengthy for some participants and 805 Startups Founder Alon Goren joked about that throughout the night. Nobody had a farther commute than Nava Brief-Fried, based in Jerusalem. Last year, Brief-Fried founded ModLi to connect designers of modest looking clothing with women who expose little skin because of religious reasons.

Brief-Fried said after the event that she and her husband had a three-week trip planned to the U.S. and took the opportunity to raise more money.

Goren said organizers wanted to award winners prizes, but were unable to come up with prize money. Still, organizers will be in frequent contact with companies that pitched to make sure they have new funding and are supported.

Ten companies were originally scheduled to participate, but one company secured funding from a new investor that afternoon and backed out because they feared their investor did not want them to solicit other offers.

• Contact Philip Joens at pjoens@pacbiztimes.com.