Emil Milevoj, executive director of the Lyles Center (left) and Anna Borgeas, program director for the Lyles Center (middle) hand Jamal Zeinalov of Ecoli Sense the grand prize check of $10,000. Photo contributed by Fresno State communications department.

published on October 28, 2019 - 2:46 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Innovators and inventors came together at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District to pitch business ideas Oct. 23.

The Central Valley Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum gives potential business startups opportunities to chat with industry professionals about technology, business management and more.

This year, the forum awarded Ecoli Sense, a startup company that uses nanotechnology to check water supplies for E. coli contamination, first place in the pitching competition and a grand prize of $10,000.

“I was very happy that our vision was recognized by the judges,” said Ecoli Sense CTO Jamal Zeinalov. “Beyond the prize, the validation and the encouragement this award brings are of utmost importance and will contribute to our drive to become the best-in-class real-time pathogen detection company.”


Melvin Velasquez (left) of Get Served Transportation won $2,500 for his startup company.


Ecoli Sense aims to develop real-time monitoring of water for E. coli as current bacteria monitoring is done through manual weekly or monthly samples that are sent to labs to be analyzed with results not being available for 18-72 hours.

Get Served Transportation won the Audience Award, earning that company $2,500. Get Served is a ride-sharing company for people with disabilities.

“The forum elevates the future of entrepreneurship in the Valley while showcasing all of the amazing ideas that not only can change the future of the Central Valley, but also the world,” said Emil Milevoj, executive director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

At last year’s competition, Rahul Tiwari, founder of Spooky Action, a company that builds unmanned aerial vehicles that fly forever, had been unknowingly chatting with an investor throughout the entire event. That connection resulted in a $100,000 investment in Tiwari’s company.

Tiwari said the “serendipitous” encounter helped him get on a path to find a lead investor for Spooky Action.

The CVIEF is a collaboration of the Central Valley Fund, Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Craig School of Business and the Water, Energy and Technology Center at Fresno State.

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