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Winners Announced for the City of Burbank's 2018 "Startup.Burbank Pitch Festival"

The Event, Designed to Support the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Featured a Keynote by Techstars' Cody Simms

Post Date:12/10/2018 9:04 AM

BURBANK, CA (December 7, 2018) -- Three tech startups, Zygo (1st Place), Leef (2nd Place), and Creative Bot (3rd Place), took home the top prizes at the City of Burbank's inaugural Startup.Burbank Pitch Festival. The event featured a world class lineup of startups, speakers, judges, and prizes, reflecting Burbank as a top-tier place to do business.

The Startup.Burbank Pitch Festival was organized by the City of Burbank in partnership with TechFire, and took place Thursday, Dec. 6 in Downtown Burbank at Cartoon Network Studios. Cody Simms, Partner at Techstars, provided the opening keynote. At Techstars, Cody is steward of equity investments and venture capital funds for one of the most active early stage venture investors in the world. Techstars invests in approximately 460 companies per year.

"Congratulations to all of the winning startups!" said Mary Hamzoian, Economic Development Manager for the City of Burbank.  "Our thanks to Cartoon Network Studios for making their beautiful event space in the heart of Downtown Burbank available, and for supporting the local economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem." 

"The City also thanks to Google for their significant support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Burbank region by donating a substantial prize package for winning startups," said Hamzoian. Google donated prize packages worth up to a combined $140,000 for the Google Cloud for Startups program. 

More than twenty startups from across Southern California applied to the Pitch Festival, and out of the finalists selected to present at the event, the winning companies were:

  • First Place: Zygo, pioneering audio for aquatic sports, presented by Co-Founder Sheera Goren
  • Second Place: scooter startup Leef, presented by Co-Founder Lawrence Ham 
  • Third Place: Creative Bot, a platform for sports-focused chatbots, presented by President & CEO Benjamin Benichou

Startup.Burbank was produced by the City of Burbank in partnership with TechFire, the City's partner in hosting events for entrepreneurs, including the Burbank Tech Talks and Burbank Tech Summit series, since 2015. David Murphy, Founder/CEO of TechFire noted "we've seen so many examples in the news from across the nation of how the tech community needs to be a more equitable and inclusive place. So with supporting women in tech being a crucial goal, I thought it was particularly awesome to see a female founder, Sheera Goren, take home first prize at Startup.Burbank!"

An all-star panel of judges for the competition provided on-the-spot mentoring and feedback for all the presenting finalists. Judges included a mix of entrepreneurs, investors, and legal and marketing experts:

  • David Knight, President Angel City Data
  • Andrew Lachman, Esq., Attorney, Lachman Law
  • Kevin Liu, Director of Investor Platforms, Techstars
  • Yair Riemer, Chief Marketing Officer, CareerArc
  • Cody Simms, Partner, Techstars

"Burbank is open for business and is excited to roll out the red carpet for entrepreneurs from across the region to start up and expand their companies in Burbank," said Hamzoian. City staff are available to help business leaders with starting up and relocating their businesses -- information is available at The event series will continue in Spring 2019 with more events. 


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