Ayori Selassie, organizer of PitchMixer. Photo: Nancy Rubin

On Wednesday night at the Freight & Salvage, the Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum will hold its first Berkeley event. In honor of Women’s History Month, the event will feature five women pitching their business ideas to an all-women panel of judges.

“I started Pitch Mixer because the East Bay — Oakland and Berkeley — lacks a strong foundation of community for entrepreneurship,” said Ayori Selassie, co-founder and director of Pitch Mixer.

“I’m from the East Bay. I know there are so many talented people here. But I had to travel to Mountain View or Palo Alto to go to these kinds of events.”

Wednesday night’s Pitch Mixer is the second Selassie has organized. The first was last month in Oakland City Hall. Nearly 100 people attended to listen to business pitches and then hear the judges dig into the details before rendering judgement.

“We got amazing feedback about the diversity in particular,” Selassie said about the first event. “You just don’t see much diversity at most of the technology events.”

What can you expect when you go to the Pitch Mixer? You’ll hear some business ideas, which may be wonderful or may be completely off target. At last month’s Oakland event, one of the business ideas, which involved sourcing hair extensions from China, seemed odd until all the women in the audience gave testimony after testimony as to how wonderful it would be.

And this wasn’t the cut-throat environment of ABC’s “Shark Tank” pitching show. The judges were considerate of even the least prepared of pitchers, but didn’t mince words when it came to summing up the strengths and weaknesses of the pitches.

Wednesday’s Pitch Mixer will be judged by Christina Brodbeck, co-founder of TheIceBreak and a founding team member at YouTube, Ulili Onovakpuri, an analyst at Kapor Capital, Emily Chiu, a serial entrepreneur, Sumaya Kazi, CEO and founder of Sumazi, and Sepideh Nasiri, director of All Things Offline at Women 2.0.

Pitch Mixer is being supported in part by the Berkeley Startup Cluster, the City of Berkeley, and the Downtown Berkeley Association. It runs from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison, and it is free to attend.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, visit Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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Five steps to make Berkeley a high-tech Mecca [03.13.11]

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...