Wednesday, August 22 , 2018, 1:22 am | Fair 63º


Local News

6 Local Startups Make Their Pitch at Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet Demo Day

Vibe and Urbavore tie for the winning presentation during the GEM accelerator event, which supports innovative new businesses

Urbavore founder Jason Maier, center, created a device that allows homeowners to grow their own food in an organic, soil-free box.
Urbavore founder Jason Maier, center, created a device that allows homeowners to grow their own food in an organic, soil-free box. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

With the Bacara Resort & Spa as their backdrop, eight young business entrepreneurs stepped on stage to present their plans and pitches to more than 100 community members Tuesday afternoon.

Members of the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet, a program that provides support and mentors to local startup businesses, kicked off the G2 Summer Accelerator Demo Day showcasing the diverse inventions.

GEM is a partnership of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the City of Goleta and UC Santa Barbara.

During the seven-week G2 Summer Accelerator program, entrepreneurs were given the tools and networking to launch their ideas. 

“They all have completed the curriculum on a variety of startup issues and spent the summer growing their idea,” said Vyto Adomaitis, Goleta neighborhood services & public safety director.

The night focused on the entrepreneurial mindset, startup techniques, selling tactics, product validation, business finance plans and pitch presentations.

“The priority is on launching and growing a startup,” GEM executive director Dave Adornetto said. “Our goal is to try to help them take the next step and help get them prepared for real life.”

Innovative businessmen and businesswomen had an opportunity to connect with professionals who could invest in the product or help them refine their plans and pitches during the event.

Vibe is a glove device that helps empower the visually impaired with wearable ultrasonic sensor technology. Click to view larger
Vibe is a glove device that helps empower the visually impaired with wearable ultrasonic sensor technology. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Six teams made a formal investor-like speech, followed by a product demonstration where the groups interacted with guests about their services.

“The teams range from a wide variety of industries and are at different stages of development,” Adornetto said. “We want to create an environment of networking and mentorship.”

Representatives from DermaChill, Dog Spot, EV Match, SoundCrutch, Urbavore and Vibe took the stage for a Shark Tank-style presentation.

Audience members were asked to choose their favorite pitches, with Vibe and Urbavore tied for the winning vote. 


Chris Keane, a UCSB economics and accounting student, described his team’s handheld cooling system that helps with red, dry and itchy conditions associated with eczema patients. He said Dermachil’s portable device provides a cold sensation that eliminates pain.

“It’s our mission to make the world more comfortable in its skin,” Keane said. “It is helping individuals in their day-to-day life. “

Keane said the kid-friendly device serves to help the itch-scratch cycle, which makes people scratch until their skin bleeds.

Dog Spot

Former Santa Barbara City College student Rashelle Smith introduced her product Dog Spot, an alternative to dog crate training. The founder said her startup produces dog beds that secure the animal without choking it.

Dog Spot founder Rashelle Smith, alongside her dog Rhett Butler, shows her product that is an alternative to dog crates.  Click to view larger
Dog Spot founder Rashelle Smith, alongside her dog Rhett Butler, shows her product that is an alternative to dog crates.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“Cages are dangerous, uncomfortable and ineffective,” Smith said. “Dog Spot is a dog bed with a removable platform, a tether and specialized harness. It works because the dog can’t move off the bed and he can’t drag it.”

Smith brought her dog Rhett Butler to the demonstration and said during the final stages of her plan, she aspires to give revenue to an animal foundation.

EV Match

Shannon Walker and Heather Hochrein, members of the UCSB Bren School Eco Entrepreneurship program, developed EV Match, an online marketplace that connects electric vehicle owners seeking local homeowners with access to EV charging infrastructures. It allows drivers to find nearby charging stations at an affordable price.

The idea was inspired by the founders’ passion for a clean-energy future through the electrification of transportation. 

“There aren’t enough charging stations for EV drivers to access in public,” Walker, 27, said.

“This product brings new charging stations — we do this by allowing any home to serve as a charging station for an electric vehicle because every home has access to electricity.”


Founder Nick Pope, a Santa Barbara City College student, explained his product called SoundCrutch, a portable speaker that can attach to an Android phone.

Priced at $7, the item doesn’t create noise distortion and makes sound louder while using the phone’s back speaker, he said. 

“Whenever I’m watching a video or listening to music on my phone, the sound is going away from me,” Pope said. “SoundCrutch is easy to use and it is three times louder than a device without it.”


Jason Maier and Alex Kalish created a simple, low-cost way for people to grow food in their homes. The two traveled from northern California to display the BLOOM BOX, a stackable, urban garden with no soil, that allows a home gardening experience. 

“Our goal is to help people have fresh food when the need it, where they need it and in an environmentally sustainable way,” Maier said.

“We believe nothing tastes as good or as healthy than what we grow ourselves. We give you the tools and techniques to grow fresh food and vegetables in the comfort of your home.”

Maier said the box uses 90 percent less water than traditional agricultural practices because the plants have increased access to nutritional supply.


Kelsey Judd, a UCSB technology management student, presented a device that helps empower the visually impaired with wearable ultrasonic sensor technology. Vibe helps the blind navigate in any location once the glove is placed on a hand.

“We are empowering the visually impaired,” Judd said. “It can scan the surroundings and get information through unique vibration patterns in your hand and with improved knowledge, users can navigate freely in any places.”

After the event, entrepreneurs presented product demonstrations to attendees. 

“I love the wide variety of ideas that were shown tonight,” Dave Clark, Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce chairman said. “This is great because there were multiple different products.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >