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Irvine's Shaka Wins Grand Prize at New Venture Competition

Irvine Based Startup Wins New Venture Competition

Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted their Annual New Venture Competition. Local startup, Shaka, wins $17,500 Grand Prize.  Shaka

85 Startups battled through multiple rounds of pitch competitions in an event hosted by the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Shaka, an online platform that helps companies keep employees engaged, emerged as the Grand Prize winner pocketing $17,500 in prize winnings to be dedicated to growing their business.

Founder and CEO, Melanie Wertzberger, provided the following statement on the win:

“We are incredibly passionate about making a positive impact on workplace cultures globally. To date, we have completely bootstrapped a product that employees are already using to feel more connected and engaged at work. This prize money will give us an opportunity to scale at a rate that was never possible to us before NVC. We are grateful for the doors this event has opened for us and the connections we were able to make throughout the competition.”

Shaka’s team includes Melanie Wertzberger (CEO), Austin Chauncey (CTO), Preston Le (Research Analyst) and Agustine “Augie” Pimentel (Customer Success Specialist)

Shaka’s online platform automatically pairs employees for brief networking meetings with new colleagues. Shaka enables companies to host employee challenges, such as a walking competition or a canned food drive. Additionally, the software offers a space for employee communities such as a company book club or a working parents group to communicate and share resources. Companies can learn more at

The New Venture Competition consisted of 3 rounds: a 3-page concept paper submission, a 10-minute formal pitch with a pitch deck, and the grand finale, a 3 minute pitch followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. The judges were successful entrepreneurs, investors, and startup experts. The Shaka team won first place in the business products category and the overall first place winner. 

What’s next for Shaka? The team is actively growing their customer base, continuing to expand their platform and is preparing to raise funding in the next 6 months. 

SOURCE: Shaka 

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