Stella Zhang New Venture Competition Finalists Picked To Compete For $100,000 At UCI

Ten finalists have been chosen to compete in the 2024 Stella Zhang New Venture Competition Grand Finale next Thursday, May 23, at the UCI Beall Applied Innovation Center for $100,000 in prize money.

This is the 20th annual New Venture Competition and the third with Stella Zhang as the title sponsor. Ms. Zhang has an MBA from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, Class of 2005, and made a significant contribution to the event in 2022. She is a cofounder and partner at Sunstone Management Inc. and American Lending Center (where she is COO), both headquartered in Irvine.

These final teams were part of nearly 100 University of California, Irvine student teams that offered up business ideas earlier this year to start the competition. Fifty-two semi-finalists, split into five categories, made board room pitches on May 10. Judges picked two finalists in each category to compete Thursday evening.

All 10 of those teams already have won significant prizes, although they won’t know how much until the night of the finals. First place in each category will receive $10,000, and second place gets $5,000. Then after all the pitches Thursday evening, the judges will choose a runnerup winning an additional $5,000, and a grand prize winner, with that team winning an additional $20,000.

Here are the five categories and the teams:

Business Products and Services

  • Sentinel – Enhancing road safety with AI-driven technology to detect and alert trucker drowsiness.
  • Bagit – Revolutionizing savings for students with on-demand discounts and seamless merchant partnership.

Consumer Products

  • Flare – Innovative fingerless glove with LED indicators for safer pedestrian and vehicle interaction.
  • Lynne – Discreet, stylishly designed birth control wallet for women, featuring a cooling pocket.

Consumer Services

  • Quiver – Subscription service offering surfers access to a vast board library at a fraction of the cost.
  • Crafty Palate – Connects foodies with local artisans for unique, high-quality culinary experiences.

Life Sciences

  • Two Cube – Autonomous bioinformatics platform that simplifies RNA analysis and empowers scientific research.
  • Neomold – Customizable, 3D-printed ear molds for correcting newborn ear deformities quickly and effectively.

Social Enterprise

  • PZ Nanopure – Innovating blue energy with piezoelectric nanopore membranes to enhance efficiency and reduce costs.
  • DermaVision – Advanced imaging technology for accurate, skin tone-inclusive bruise detection and monitoring.

The event is free to attend, but you must register in advance at The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a welcome, with presentations to follow.

All the action is at the Merge Auditorium, SB1 1200, on the UCI campus. See you there!

About American Lending Center: A Financial Times (FT) Americas’ Fastest Growing Company   

American Lending Center (ALC) is a private nonbank lending institution and nationally recognized leader in small business lending. By the end of March 2024, ALC has fully financed senior loan products to 94 qualified EB-5 projects in 31 states, contributing to a combined construction and business expansion budget of over 1.2 billion dollars. ALC’s lending practice has successfully created more than 20,000 new jobs nationwide since 2009.

In 2022, ALC launched its new rural construction and development fund with capital available for construction of fixed assets of all types in rural areas including manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, hospitality, specialty use, multi-use and other project types.   

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