Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is a regional new business competition and acceleration program for entrepreneurs in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.  The Challenge is held annually, organized by a team of community volunteers and hosted by the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development of CSU, Monterey Bay. It is a competitive acceleration process that teaches, coaches, mentors, networks, and connects entrepreneurs to the knowledge and resources they need. Prospective entrepreneurs, start-ups and emerging companies showcase and develop their business concepts while competing for prizes. The Challenge provides workshops and mentoring to support the founding, funding and growth of new and innovative businesses in the Monterey Bay region. The Challenge empowers entrepreneurs to communicate their ideas effectively to investors, customers and employees.


The Startup Challenge is a process! Applications open December 1, 2017, and close March 12th, 2018.  The Qualifying Round (your opportunity to become a Finalist!) is April 7th, 2018, and The Finals are May 12th, 2018.

Venture, Main Street and Student Divisions

The Challenge offers three divisions – Venture, Main Street, and Student.  The Venture division is for businesses that are intended to scale into large enterprises and that can provide venture-capital level returns to investors; the Main Street division is for small businesses, and the Student division is for students at the graduate, undergraduate, junior college, or high school level.

Venture - $20k Award

Open to businesses intended to scale and provide venture-investor level returns. $5,000 award to two runners-up.

Main Street - $10k Award

Open to small businesses, sole proprietorship, and non-profits. Social enterprise entities encouraged to compete.

Student - $1.5k Award

Open to students in middle through high school, community colleges, colleges, and graduate schools.

Workshops and Resources

The Challenge offers pitch workshops and other resources to help you prepare!  Introductory Workshops teach you about the Challenge and how to prepare your application; Pitch Workshops help you prepare for the Qualifying Round; Mentors help the finalists prepare for The Finals.