Mysty Rusk (left), director of the Brink Small Business Development Center at the University of San Diego, presents the winning check to AquaCycl CEO Orianna Bretschger (right).

Mysty Rusk (left), director of the Brink Small Business Development Center at the University of San Diego, presents the winning check to AquaCycl CEO Orianna Bretschger (right).

After a successful debut last year, the San Diego Angel Conference will return again this spring. The event gives prospective angel investors a chance to learn more about the investing process, and local entrepreneurs a chance to compete for at least $200,000 in funding.

Last year, San Diego Angel Conference (SDAC) winners raised a total of $525,000 from investors. First-place winner Aquacycl won $200,000 at the event. A few months later, additional funding was invested through a special purpose vehicle into Aquacycl and finalists GroGuru and Vivid Genomics.

Mysty Rusk, founder of SDAC and director of the Brink Small Business Development Center at the University of San Diego, said the inaugural event surpassed her expectations.

“Our first San Diego Angel Conference was an unqualified success. We hoped to raise $200,000, and fund one company. In the end, we raised $535,000 and funded three companies,” she said in a news release. “We’ve effectively demonstrated that there is good deal flow in San Diego, and accredited angels actively investing in good deals.”

Accredited angel investors participating in the event purchase units in a fund that is invested into the winner of the conference. This year, they hope to bring in a minimum of $200,000 to invest, with the fund capped at $1 million.

The group will conduct due diligence on the startups together, narrowing the companies down to six finalists that will pitch at the conference on March 28, 2020. This year, local attorney and angel investor Benton Moore will lead the fund management team.

Last year, 34 angel investors participated. Eight of them went on to join other angel networks or funds in the area, such as Tech Coast Angels and the Cove Fund.

Angel investors that wish to participate in this year’s event can attend an open house on Nov. 14 for more information. The program for angel investors begins in January.

Entrepreneurs that want to participate in the program may apply by Dec. 16. The group is also offering weekly workshops leading up to December, including advice on building a pitch deck, conducting market research and developing a network of investors.