Startup Weekend is Around the Corner!

It is almost the new year, and with that come new challenges and opportunities. California State University and the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development are proud to sponsor Tech Stars Startup Weekend for the Monterey Bay region. Startup Weekend is a 54 hour immersive event that fosters innovation, creativity, and opportunity. Roll your sleeves up and compete to build the next big idea! You will be surrounded by intelligent and ambitious entrepreneurs. Business people, designers, engineers from all walks of life come together and try to turn idea into innovation. You will have ample opportunity to network and collaborate. Join with friends or meet new people. You may become CEO or founding partner of the next big venture in Monterey Bay!

Sign up today!

Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp

2018 Report on State of Santa Cruz Tech, 2018 Predictions, MapBox, BlueFox, Hydrovirga, more
Let’s celebrate the close of a very successful year of tech in Santa Cruz with a number of activities and stellar company presentations:

2018 Report on State of Santa Cruz Tech: commissioned by Workforce Development Board Santa Cruz County will be presented by Christopher Thornberg  of Beacon Economics. Chris will give an overview on the growth trajectory of our local tech sector: employment, wages, companies, how education is serving local tech workforce needs, what kinds of skill-sets are in high demand locally, constraints on growth, and what the future looks like for tech in Santa Cruz County.

Cruz Foam: Sustainable Surfing

Cruz Foam is aiming to tackle sustainability in their own way. Through their backgrounds in material and chemical engineering, John Felts and Marco Rolandi set out to create a sustainable replacement for surfboard blanks. Surfboard blanks are made out of various types of foam, though polyurethane foam has been used in the making of these boards since the 1950s. The main reason this foam has been widely used is its ability to shape easily. However easy it is to produce and shape polyurethane surfboard blanks, they are toxic to nature since they are non-renewable and do not decompose. Coming from Santa Cruz this student and teacher, both avid surfers, have put their minds together to come up with the idea of creating a surfboard blank out of shrimp shell wastes. Shrimp shells, along with other crustaceans, have exoskeletons composed of a polymer that can be formed and shaped much like other foams. Having made great progress and obtaining good results, they have pursued their work further. They are now in the process of moving outside of the school and creating the actual business. Opening a new lab where they can further their research has given them the hopes of creating a sustainable and similar surfboard blank that the people are expecting. They have established an advisory board that consists of Ward Coffey, Daniel Hutchins, and others soon to be named.


They have a patent pending with UC Santa Cruz for the creation of the foam and the product of the surfboard blank created from the foam. There is a lot of confidence in their being able to create a surfboard blank that shapes easily and is comparable in strength to polyurethane. It is clear that John and his other co-founders, Marco Rolandi, associate professor and chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at UC Santa Cruz, and Xiaolin Zhang, are focused on sustainability and although they are focusing on surfboard blanks for now it doesn’t mean they will stop there. When asked about manufacturing of their products, John stated that in the future they would ideally like to partner or license their technology to other surfboard manufacturers so they can mass produce their Cruz Foam boards. They are focusing their efforts in Santa Cruz at the moment, but they are hoping to expand to the rest of California and later to other states to help stop toxic materials from entering our ecosystem. When asked what will come once they complete their product, they stated that they will give samples of the product to famous and local surfers such as Ward Coffey to test.


Cruz Foam has been in numerous startup events that have helped them get to where they are today. They participated and placed second in UC’s Gradslam where research is presented and awarded. They entered UC Santa Cruz’s Business Design Showcase and won third. They continued onto to Innovation Goes Outside in Morgan Hill where they pitched their idea in a forum setting and received offers for business consulting and lawyers. From here they received $5,000 in legal services from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR). Cruz Foam also took 1st place in the student division at our own Startup Challenge Monterey Bay. Cruz Foam is dedicated towards its mission and has now been accepted Santa Cruz Accelerates at Santa Cruz Works where they will receive help on furthering their business and entering the market.


A sustainable product that can create change in the ecosystem while not changing the sport of surfing. Keep your eyes out when purchasing your next surfboard for Cruz Foam and help make a difference.

WorkinSpot: Allowing You to Work Where You Want to

Here is a startup that can help other startups and businesses find needed short-term office space. WorkinSpot is an online community marketplace that matches temporarily surplus office space with businesses looking for temporary office space – an Airbnb for office space. This startup company is generating a new avenue to combat the problems of offices having no use for empty desks and the problem that there are not enough locations for businessmen and entrepreneurs to work while out of their home office. WorkinSpot also provides companies that may have too many offices and those that are lacking offices to collaborate and work together to occupy that unused space. A young, driven, and soon-to-be graduate of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), man by the name of Sal Ornelas-Reynoso has set out to take this idea and make it a reality. With his backstop being his family and friends he is striving to get his company up and running. At the moment it is still pre-operational, yet there are plans for a soft launch by the end of the year 2017. Their alpha testing is taking place with a few office spaces within commercial businesses in Salinas, Watsonville, San Jose, and San Carlos. Before they launch they are focusing on making sure their services meet the needs of both the clients using the working space and the businesses providing it.

WorkinSpot started at the annual Startup Weekend hosted by the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development on the CSUMB campus. This idea was started in Sal’s team at the 2017 Startup Weekend. But the team from Startup Weekend disbanded, leaving him alone working on the idea. Since Startup Weekend he has continued looking for others who share his vision for WorkinSpot. He has been joined by Daniel Ornelas, WorkinSpot’s chief operations officer, Willie Eagleton, WorkinSpot’s business developer manager, and Andrew Ludwig, sales engineer and data researcher, After Startup Weekend, the team began preparing for and entered the Startup Challenge new venture competition (Startup Challenge Monterey BayCha) to keep them focused on forging ahead with development.  Sal made it very clear that the Startup Challenge helped them create a foundation for the business as it helped him understand how to effectively create a service that customers would actually want. He stated that “going through the competition, I learned how to effectively communicate our business to customers and investors” (personal communication, September 14, 2017).

His team has continued their work on WorkinSpot, with guidance from their advisor Brad Barbeau, who’s “guidance is phenomenal” according to Sal (personal communication, September 14, 2017). The team hopes to move to beta testing before the end of the year, and plans to make another run at Startup Challenge in early 2018.

Through all of the hard work and countless hours that has gone into it, WorkinSpot is coming closer and closer to being a reality. It is certainly something to keep watch for as one day you may be in need for an office space for a day or a week.

Startup Hackathon Monterey Bay 2017


Features: TBD

The theme for this year’s Startup Hackathon will be set soon.  Save the date!

Free for CSUMB students, other students $49, General $99

Greater Vision Water Forum

Visions, Visionaries, and Innovations

A one-day forum addressing innovative water management strategies for the Central Coast. Over 30 speakers, including researchers, policy makers, and industry innovators from around the world will discuss ideas, policies, and technologies to advance sustainable water management for an adequate water supply for the residential, agricultural, and industrial needs of our region.

The forum will take place on October 6th, 2017 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1441 Canyon Del Rey Blvd in Seaside, CA.

Who Should Attend

  • Agricultural and Industrial Water Leaders and Managers
  • Government Officials and Policy Makers
  • Trade associations and development organizations
  • Educational Leaders, Researchers, Faculty, and Students
  • Water Researchers from Public and Private Institutions
  • Water Industry Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Developers
  • Anyone interested in this issue

Goals of the Forum

  • Examine strategies and policies
  • Engage discussion on practical solutions
  • Encourage research and investment

Keiretsu Forum to Present at First Annual Monterey Startup Investment Expo in October

Originally published on Santa Cruz Tech Beat



September 13, 2017 — Monterey, CA


Keiretsu Forum, a world-wide angel investment group, will present at the Monterey Startup Investment Expo in October 26, 2017

Keiretsu Forum, with almost 3,000 members in 52 chapters world wide, will be one of the angel investment groups bringing a local company to present at the first annual Startup Investment Expo this fall.

Judith Iglehart, International Vice President of Keiretsu Forum will be the luncheon speaker, and will discuss how she has worked with communities all around the world to help them kick start their local economies by building their angel investment ecosystems. Along with her, Monterey Bay area Keiretsu Forum portfolio company LinqTo will be prese

nting details of its current investment round and growth in the fin-tech area. Also supporting the effort is Fred Cohen, the Pebble Beach chapter President, who will be acting as the moderator for presentations and panels.

There are a number of events happening to boost the local economy, and one of them is the Monterey Bay Startup Investment Expo. The Expo is an opportunity to learn more about the regional startup ecosystem. This is drawing Keiretsu Forum members from the San Francisco and Oakland areas as well as other angel investors and groups to the region, with the potential to fund startups and engage in community building across the tri-county region. The Expo is on October 26 from 8AM to 4PM, and is cosponsored by The MPCC and Management Analytics, a local company. The Expo will include representatives from local and regional funds, startups, incubators, accelerators, municipalities, law offices, Universities and colleges, financial institutions, and other organizations and institutions involved in funding and supporting startups.

For more information about the expo or the local Keiretsu Forum chapter and its activities, contact or visit




Schoolze App Revolutionizing How Parents Engage with their Kids’ Education.

  Aug 24, 2017

Originally published on Monterey County Weekly.

Growing up in India, Avneesh Kumar saw firsthand how a lack of parental engagement could affect a student’s success. His father was a teacher and his sister was a principal, and he’d often listen to their workday grievances. He eventually went into IT as a career, but Kumar was reacquainted with the issues when he became a father and his son enrolled in preschool.

He saw teachers scramble to send out parent newsletters and observed how late he’d receive first-day-of-school notifications. With a bit of research, he saw the U.S. Department of Education was mulling over parent engagement as well, ranking it as one of the top three problems schools face. It was a problem he thought was solvable.

The Pacific Grove man created an app called Schoolze (pronounced “school-zee”) in 2015. At first, it was a platform for teachers to disseminate newsletters to parents. It’s evolved and can now help raise money for schools. “Schoolze looks nothing like it did when we launched it,” Kumar says. He spoke with the Weekly about how the app transformed.

Weekly: How does the app raise money for schools?

Kumar: There are multiple ways to raise money. When it comes time to make a yearbook, parents can now upload quality photos for a yearbook. Schools can also use Schoolze to sell yearbooks. This helps to monetize the feature.

[Schoolze] also helps raise funds for [parent teacher associations]. It digitizes traditional ways of fundraising. If you have a donation fundraiser, you can track the progress to the goal like on similar crowd-funding platforms like GoFundMe.

How many schools are using Schoolze?

Eighty-plus schools in 16 states, with usage from Canada and the UK [too]. We’re trying to focus primarily in U.S.

Right now, we’re not focusing on growing the company, but focusing on the product. That means gathering results and data, mapping it and measuring, so that schools can track how successful their school is.

How do schools usually track success?

Most schools can only go off of grades, test scores or graduation rates. But success is so much more than that; you have to contextualize those measurements too. How do you measure the environment a child is in? Or the community they’re embedded in? Those are harder questions and harder to measure.

Nobody has been able to put a number on family engagement, so we’re starting there and we think that’s another way of tracking progress.

It looks like this app can do a lot of good for schools in high-need communities. Have you tried reaching out to any of those schools?

Yes, we’ve worked with some summer schools in Salinas and the East Coast where students come from less affluent neighborhoods. Socio-economic issues are directly correlated with how involved parents are in their students’ lives. For many of these families, they’re just trying to survive.

We also found out that these schools have about 20 percent of positive parent engagement; the rest of the 80 percent are disengaged.

That 20 percent is all that’s needed to start a specific campaign to help the 80 percent. For, example, get an iPad for every family, so that families can have some sort of computer in the household. You only need to mobilize a little to get a big impact. It’s about creating a bridge.

How do you engage parents who don’t speak English? That’s a gap that needs to bridged in Monterey County.

When we make new features, we make them as inclusive as possible. Say a teacher sends out a newsletter in English. There’s a feature that translates it into different languages. Say I have a student that comes up to me and says, “Hey, my mom speaks Spanish but she can’t read.” We created a feature that translates text into audio in different languages. It’s important that everything we add expands on parent involvement.

Are you an involved parent?

In the beginning, I wasn’t too involved. I’d say my wife is still more involved with our son. But the more I develop Schoolze, the more I have a sight of his and the teachers’ worlds. I see his education and growth from all sides, and this project definitely helped with that.

Visit the Schoolze Website!

Open Ground Studios’ “Art Oasis” at the 16th Annual West End Celebration

WHEN: August 26th & 27th, 2017

ABOUT THE EVENT: Open Ground Studios will hit the streets of Sand City for the fifth consecutive year during the 16th Annual West End Celebration. OGS’s Art Oasis will be a combination gallery and outdoor arts hub featuring works by our co-op artist members and teaching artists! In addition to fine art prints, paintings and drawings for sale, we’ll have unique, hand-printed T-shirts and bags and fabric paint so people can add their own embellishments. We’ll also be providing Artist Trading Cards for locals to make, swap and share.

NEW THIS YEAR: Three Featured Artists will be on site working on their art and sharing their process, passions and stories with the larger community.


11:00 – 2:30

Paul Richmond is an internationally recognized figure painter and arts activist. During the festival he will be working on his latest piece featuring transgender military veterans to promote his upcoming exhibition at Open Ground Studios entitled, Face to Face. On Saturday, Paul will launch PiecedTogether, a community art project inviting all ages to contribute to a wall mural installation that will be unveiled during his exhibition in September.

3:00 – 6:00

Alyssa Endo is an exquisite and detailed large-scale reduction woodcut artist who will be on-site carving the last layer of her 10th piece in The Beauty Series, a thirteen-piece exploration of Geisha culture, identity and traditional Japanese imagery.


1:00 – 4:30

Renata Abma is a local architect who grew up in Brazil where color, texture and the environment became integral to how she sees the world. She works in oils, pastels and printmaking and will be on-site to share her journey back into art-making while working on an oil painting.

ABOUT THE STUDIO: Award winning Open Ground Studios is a fine art school, cooperative visual art studio and coworking space that provides dedicated, inspiring and sustainable workspace for artists, creative adults, professionals and teens. OGS is an affordable and accessible shared facility offering 24/7 access to co-op and coworking members. OGS promotes community entrée into creative productivity by hosting workshops, open studio time, classes, social events, and exhibition space.

For More Information:

Denese Sanders, OGS Artistic Director

Tel: 831-241-6919 | Cell: 861-236-8636



Instagram: @opengroundstudios


Paul Richmond:

Alyssa Endo:

Renata Abma:

Carmel Honey Company

Carmel, CA. (July 21, 2017) — Members of the Reisdorf family of Carmel are industrious as a colony of honey bees these days as they prepare to open Carmel Honey Company’s first brick-and-mortar store at the Carmel Plaza in downtown Carmel. Carmel Honey Company was founded by Jake Reisdorf, now 14, as a school project that took off. He not only founded the company, but is a passionate advocate for saving bee populations. He is a knowledgeable speaker who regularly gives talks, demonstrations and workshops to schools, civic groups, companies and nonprofits on the importance of bees. “We’re super excited to be in the Plaza, it’s a great location. They’re remodeling the whole courtyard, it’s becoming a foodie paradise.” says Jake Reisdorf, the leader of this honey-passionate family, about the store which is on the lower level of the Plaza. Dad Jeff is a general contractor and he’ll be responsible for the build-out of the space, mom Becky will be the contact for day to day operations, while sister Brooke, 11, will take on window and store display and will also assist in choosing the various hive related products.

The Carmel Honey Company store will be an upscale honey store, stocked with honey and hive-related merchandise, including apparel, unique gifts, bath & body items and specialty edibles.
And of course, Jake is still a student, so there is an educational component to the store. Since most people haven’t tasted real, raw, premium honey guests will be able to sample honeys from all over the country, discover beekeeping practices from around the world, and learn about the importance of pollinators to the eco system and the human race. Jake and his family plan to travel and bring the best honey in world back to Carmel By-the-Sea. They already have a sample program from the East Coast ready and will be traveling to Istanbul this fall.

“There are a lot of different kinds of honey with different flavor profiles,” says Jake. “In Europe, for example, the honey is more savory than here. It’s fun to see people’s faces light up when they taste the quality of my honey and it’s cool to answer questions about honey bees. Some of the kids actually ask some tough ones.” So why did the family decide to open a brick-and-mortar store for their honey products? “It was from overwhelming demand,” says Jake. “People kept asking us where our store was located. They wanted to learn more about bees and sample our honey. We feel lucky to be in this location.” The Reisdorfs say this store goes along with Jake’s original slogan he came up with when he was just 11 years old. “His slogan was ‘Carmel Honey Company, Bringing You the Best Honey in the World,’ ” says Becky. “And it’s actually coming true. It’s quite exciting.”

Carmel Honey Company store
Carmel Plaza, Suite 118,
Ocean Avenue & Mission Street
Carmel, CA 93921
Phone: 831.687.8511
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm, Sun 11am to 5pm

About Jake and Carmel Honey Company:
Jake Reisdorf is the chief beekeeper and owner of Carmel Honey Company. He started his business as part of a school project where his teacher assigned professions to each student and directed them to research the profession and build a presentation on it. While researching his assigned profession of website designer, Jake, 11 years old at the time, decided to take it one step further and actually create a real website. At that time, Jake had taken one beekeeping class with his Dad and thought it would be cool to design a website about honey bees. Not only did Jake get an “A” on the project, it inspired him and spurred him to start Carmel Honey Company. That was three years ago. His passion for honey bees grew as he learned about Colony Collapse Disorder and real honey. Expanding his research and education drove Jake to learn more about honey and bees and ultimately decide it was critical to give back. The “Jake Gives Back” program includes sharing honey bee knowledge with kids and adults of all ages. Whether he is in a classroom speaking to first-grade students, or at a corporate event talking with business owners and seasoned professionals, his passion and appreciation of how honey bees impact our world is infectious. He also “gives back” by making a financial donation to honey bee research and education organizations.