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Agtech Startup GroGuru Gets Audience Kudos at EvoNexus Demo Day

Xconomy San Diego — 

Three wildly different startups among those incubating at EvoNexus, a La Jolla, CA-based nonprofit organization that supports early-stage tech companies, earned top marks from the audience at a pitch contest this week.

EvoNexus typically hosts a “Demo Day” event twice per year to highlight the top startups currently housed in its incubator. The event is one of the most popular showcases of San Diego-area tech innovation, and it usually provides an interesting local snapshot of industry trends. The overarching theme at this iteration, which featured companies pursuing innovation in industries from semiconductors to healthcare, was that local startups are thinking big and aiming to tackle huge markets.

Nine EvoNexus companies participated on Wednesday evening. Their pitches, which took place on stage in the Irwin M. Jacobs auditorium at Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) headquarters, kept the audience rapt (notwithstanding game three of the NBA Finals, in which the Golden State Warriors fell to the Toronto Raptors).

GroGuru won the audience vote, determined via text messages. The agtech startup has developed a system for commercial agriculture operations that helps track soil moisture and salinity to improve irrigation. CEO Patrick Henry said the company has already deployed about 40 of its wireless systems, primarily in the Midwest. GroGuru anticipates revenue of about $1 million this year, up from $150,000 in 2018, Henry says.

The next-highest number of votes went to MemComputing, which has developed a computing architecture that it says can solve problems that classical computing can’t handle. The company described the performance of what it has created as capable of reaching the level of what is eventually expected from quantum computing, a highly anticipated method of computing that would conduct huge numbers of calculations simultaneously. MemComputing has tested its performance at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego and is currently conducting pilot programs with potential customers to verify its ambitious claims, but if it gains traction, it could have a big impact across industries.

Coming in third in the poll was QuickCarl, which has developed an app that links homeowners and renters with home service professionals for virtual assistance with improvements, maintenance, and repairs. (Think Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC) and other virtual care apps, but for your house.) … Next Page »

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