The Opportunity Green environmental business conference wrapped up in Los Angeles Friday.
Sustainability executives from big companies like Nike, Southwest Airlines and eBay showed up. So did fledgling entrepreneurs.
They also held a green start-up competition.
Almost a dozen finalists showed up to offer their one-minute business pitches.
Ideas ranged from the relatively simple, like 24-year-old L.A. native Tina Hovsepian’s invention, "called Cardborigami, which is a portable shelter for disaster victims. It's made of cardboard but it’s waterproof, flame retardant, portable and recyclable."
To more technical concepts like Alphabet Energy’s — a product that generates electricity from wasted heat that might come from your car’s tailpipe or a factory chimney.
The winning idea landed somewhere in the middle — 23-year-old Chicago native Arpan Shah’s start-up, PrintEco, took home $25,000 worth of branding services.
"I’ve developed some software that helps companies and consumers reduce their paper and ink usage with a simple click of a button," Shah said.
Shah’s software extracts the unnecessary blank space from documents, and the ads from web pages, before you hit “print.”
As an intern, Shah sat next to the company printer. The sight of so much wasted paper really bothered him. A year later, a couple of Chicago companies use his software — and a free beta version is available online.
Last year’s winner, Bay Area-based Zimride, is a success story. The ridesharing service employs 20 people, and it’s looking to hire more.