WESLACO, RGV – The UTRGV Center for Innovation and Commercialization and the Rio Grande Valley Angel Network are hosting a Pitch Academy, July 29 thru August 1.

The two entities are looking for start-up companies that are currently trying to raise capital to scale their business.

Interested parities have until July 14 to apply. The venue for the Pitch Academy is the UTRGV CIC center in Weslaco. 

Laurie Simmons

“Our CIC Pitch Academy is designed to provide a handful of qualified startups an immersive experience in real world capital raising,” said Laurie Simmons, manager of the CIC.

“The region’s very own Rio Grande Valley Angel Network is participating to provide these companies not just invaluable angel investor insights but is also going to provide them an opportunity to pitch for actual investments from RGVAN.”

Simmons added: “Coupled with guest speakers from around Texas and rich educational content, this four day experience will create a platform from which these companies can accelerate the realization of their dreams.”

Here are the biographical details on three of the speakers:

Gordon Daugherty:

Gordon Daugherty

Gordon Daugherty is a seasoned business executive, entrepreneur, startup advisor, and investor. He has made more than 200 investments in early-stage companies as a venture fund manager and angel investor, and he has been involved with raising more than $80 million in growth and venture capital.

From his 28-year career in high tech, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200-million acquisition exit under his belt. Now, as co-founder and president of Austin’s Capital Factory and through his content creation practice, Shockwave Innovations, Gordon spends 100 percent of his time educating, advising, and investing in startups.

Alejandro Tortoriello, MD:

Alejandro Tortoriello

Alejandro Tortoriello serves as Program Manager for the Center for Entrepreneurship Advancement at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He focuses on the discovery, evaluation, and translation of technology for commercialization. Prior to his current role, Alejandro became the first Bio-Innovation Fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2016. During his fellowship, Alejandro launched the National Science Foundation’s I‐Corps program at MD Anderson. He now teaches both regional and national NSF I-Corps programs as a trained instructor. In 2017, Alejandro developed the Venture Mentoring Service at Houston followed by Texas Venture Connect mentor network in 2019. He is the operations manager for both networks in collaboration with the University of Texas System to provide industry mentoring to academic ventures across UT institutions. Alejandro is a medical doctor who successfully founded two startup companies addressing childhood obesity and healthcare provider infrastructure needs in Mexico. He has won multiple awards for his innovations, including recognition by the Inter‐American Development Bank as one of the most innovative young professionals in Latin America.

David Fonseca:

David Fonseca

David Fonseca is a company builder. He is founder of five-plus organizations including but not limited to innovation centers, angel investor networks, consulting, not for profits, real estate investment, and more. As a coach he has helped over 130 companies in 14 different industries. He currently assists companies to go global. He is certified in proven methodologies such as WKI and Growth Wheel. As an investor he serves as the point of contact for the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks (ATAN) which has 15 angel networks who serve 632 accredited angel investors. And he has spoken and trained coaches in more than 12 countries including the USA, Denmark, Qatar, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Russia. He holds a BBA in Finance and MBA from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. There he was recipient of the Young Alumni Award. He also earned a Doctorado Honoris Causa at Pontificia Universidad de Huatusco in Mexico.

In a flyer for the Pitch Academy, UTRGV CIC asks start-ups if they ready to take the next step in realizing their dream.

“If so, surround yourself with a community of respected entrepreneurs, seasoned advisors and investors who will help you understand the challenges of pitching your company and raising capital,” the flyer states.

“In four intense, informative (and fun) days, you will get yourself and your start-up ready to pitch to an investor or Angel Group.”

The flyer points out that six companies will be selected for the four-day long event and become eligible to pitch to the Rio Grande Valley Angel Network for funding. 

“You will be able to pitch your company and get real-time feedback from local angels, entrepreneurs and mentors.”

Who Should Apply?

Any start-up currently trying to raise capital and scale their business. Also, start-up teams who will be raising money in the next six months. And, founders interested in meeting local angel investors.

What Will Be Learned?

Those attending the academy will learn why investors sometimes say no, how to find the right investor, the components of a pitch, and market validation and customer discovery.

Those attending will also learn to identify funding needs, how to present their opportunity, what angel investors look for in a start-up, and insights from successful entrepreneurs. 

The cost to participate is $199. 

Centrally located in the City of Weslaco, the Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC) aims to transform the Rio Grande Valley by serving as a regional entrepreneurial hub. 

Simmons, its manager, said the CIC is focused on providing the necessary resources and support systems to help our regional entrepreneurs create successful scalable enterprises that have the potential to reach national and/or international markets.

The CIC is an Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center and is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site.

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a two-part series on the UTRGV Center for Innovation and Commercialization/Rio Grande Valley Angel Network Pitch Academy. Part Two, focusing on the Rio Grande Valley Angel Network, will be posted in our next edition.