Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: Entrepreneurial Alumna Launches Pitchcrawl

Pitchcrawl serves up angel food

Published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Dec. 13, 2011.

By Shana Lynch, Assistant Managing Editor

There’s a pitch event a day in the Silicon Valley. But when one combines pitching with good food in a speed-dating-style experiment, it has my attention.

That’s what Dishcrawl founder Tracy Lee [an SJSU alumna] is attempting with her new venture, Pitchcrawl.

The inaugural Pitchcrawl was held in downtown San Jose on Dec. 7. About 40 startups paid a $39 ticket price to meet a dozen venture investors and sample some local fare. The crawl started at San Jose’s TechShop at 300 South 2nd Street, where name tags identified pitcher from pitchee and the companies were paired with investors and given three minutes to explain their product before moving to the next investor.

After a few rounds (and some burritos from La Victoria Taqueria), the group headed to NextSpace at 97 S. 2nd St. for round two (with RawDaddy’s spicy Thai salad cones and a free day pass to the coworking space). Then the final lap was at the Irish Innovation Center on Santa Clara Street over some House of Siam goodness.

Investors included people from Bay Partners , Brownstone Ventures, Valencia Ventures, Originate Ventures and OPT/Dentsu, as well as several angels.

Startups came in from around the South Bay, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and even Los Angeles and Argentina. They included Picsual, a Palo Alto-based mobile product search company founded a few months ago by Anson Liang and Greg Tapper, and WordWatch, a management tool for Adwords based in downtown San Jose. Geekatoo, a Walnut Creek startup, offered up a website that allows users to bid on tech help. And the most popular company of the night — which won a 60-minute pitch working session with Angel’s Forum — was Wurlpool, a social mobile app startup pitched by founder Eric Shelton.

Lee aims to host anywhere from monthly to quarterly Pitchcrawls, hosted in both San Jose and San Francisco. The second one is in San Francisco on Jan. 10, with a follow-up back in downtown San Jose in February.

The focus on venture capital connections comes partly from Lee’s own frustration in building connections in the venture capital world.

“A lot of amazing startups don’t have that network — it takes six months to a year to build that. Then it takes more time to get funding,” Lee said.

“It’s kind of a pain in the butt.”

And of course, this latest venture wasn’t too much of a stretch for Lee, a startup founder herself. Lee’s Dishcrawl, which pairs the local restaurant scene with foodies who support them, is bootstrapped, bringing in revenue and looking for an angel or seed funding. It has expanded to 25 cities with seven full-time employees.