Student to compete at SXSW fest

Orange Coast College student Valerie Fernandez is a mere three rounds away from possibly winning a national business pitch competition.

Fernandez’s Vekkolabs business is still in the running at the Student Start-up Madness business pitch competition at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin. Fernandez is currently a finalist, making it to the round of 64 and will represent OCC as the only community college student remaining in the competition.

Fernandez is competing against Ivy League universities, UCLA, USC and other powerhouse universities across the nation.

Her company, Vekkolabs, whose latest electronic innovation allows the transmission of data wirelessly using Bluetooth BLE, is the first device of its kind to utilize app-less technology. Fernandez aims to use her new technology in the world of marketing.

“We hope to help pioneer the next generation of digital marketing, since big data collection disguised as advertising needs to stop,” Fernandez said.

The privacy-friendly device also boasts the usage of proximity marketing and QR code technology that allows persons to application data transfer.

The next round of the Student Start-up Madness Business Pitch Competition is scheduled for Feb. 15 and will be judged via social media.

If Fernandez’s Vekkolabs makes it past the Feb. 15 round, it will be physically presented before a panel of judges at the SXSW Festival with eight other participants in March.

According to Fernandez, SXSW is allowing part of her dream to come to fruition.

“I already had the idea for the company for some time and was just looking for the opportunity to present it,” Fernandez said.

Future endeavors for Vekkolabs include showcasing products in future competitions by applying to events such as TechCrunch Disrupt and YCombinator, Fernandez said.

While the company is still in the development stages, Fernandez said she is considering potential investors in February with expectations to fully launch Vekkolabs by the summer.

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