Editor’s note: Triangle entrepreneur Tatiana Birgisson pitched her Mati Energy drink to a world of investors at Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day last week and came home the winner – just as Durham-based Windsor Circle did a year earlier. How did she pull off the victory? ExitEvent Editor Laura Baverman, who made the trip to Silicon Valley for the event, has the details.

(From Silicon Valley) – There are certain moments in life made sweeter after victory.

For Tatiana Birgisson, it’s the extreme fear she had in 2012 of pitching her Mati Energy drink in front of a crowd. It’s the hours with boyfriend and fellow entrepreneur Jake Stauch spent cutting apples and lemons, and waiting for huge amounts of water to boil on her apartment stove before they had industrial grade equipment. 

It’s the two years of experimenting and taste testing to get the perfect blend—realized when she and Stauch couldn’t sleep one night because the caffeine level was so strong. It’s living off $13,500 for a year—winnings from the Duke Startup Challenge and a summer stipend from the university. It’s when she realized selling Mati in kegs wouldn’t scale—two major office customers reduced their orders in the same week.

It’s the moment six weeks ago when she found out she’d pitch on a stage at Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day in Silicon Valley, but worried judges would fault her for being a consumer product company, for having raised little money, for having a small team. 

As the judges sipped Mati placed strategically under their chairs, it was all of those things that sent Birgisson home with a huge trophy (which she carried into the night Thursday), $100,000 investment from investor Steve Case, national media headlines, a spot in a prestigious Silicon Valley bootcamp and a stack of business cards from investors willing and ready to fund her $1 million round.

“It was huge affirmation—not only did they think it was cool what we’re doing but they awarded us the best prize,” she said holding her trophy from the stage Thursday.

How it went down: Read the full story at ExitEvent.