Hartnell College Maker Space

Hartnell College MakerSpace: Creativity at Work

By Esmeralda Montenegro Owen
Hartnell College
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

June 7, 2018 — Salinas, CA

(Photo above: Guests check out robots at the opening of the dirty lab at Hartnell College. Contributed)

Hartnell College continues to innovate and engage, opening up the minds of the youth in Salinas to imagine and create with the help of the latest technology. This is a possibility thanks to the MakerSpace or Maker movement.

This spring 2018, Hartnell College was awarded 2-years of funding for this project by the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office totaling $500,000. This special grant is being used for implementation, equipment, staffing, supplies and stipends for faculty and others that are involved in creating workshops and classes for college students, K-12 students and the community at large.

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That garlic stuff check

BenitoLink Covers Startup Challenge Monterey Bay

Hollister business wins Startup Challenge Monterey Bay


Startup Challenge Grand Prize winner Cruz Foam

Congratulations to the 2018 Startup Challenge winners!

The winners of this year’s Startup Challenge Monterey Bay were selected on May 12, 2018 at this year’s Finale celebration at CSUMB @ Salinas City Center.

The Venture Division winner Cruz Foam transforms shrimp shell waste into the eco-friendly equivalent of Styrofoam.  CruzFoam won the $20,000 Venture Division with a fabulous presentation in the Startup Challenge Otter Tank, with AudibleRx and Radicle Snacks landing the runners-up prizes of $5,000 each.

That Garlic Stuff, a homemade garlic sauce made with locally sourced garlic won the Main Street Division, earning a $10,000 cash prize.  Runners-up companies Arti-Culture and Splendid Blended each earned $2,500 prizes.

BOHO Marketplace won the Student Division to earn the $1,500 prize. BOHO, founded by two students from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, is an innovative and values-based insurance marketplace that provides customers an easy way to compare and purchase insurance policies while also providing insurance to someone in need in an emerging market.

This year, 82 entrepreneurs from the Monterey Bay region entered the Startup Challenge. The Challenge includes three divisions: Venture, for businesses intended to grow into large enterprises; Main Street, for small businesses; and Student, for high school through graduate school students.

These applicants presented their ideas to a panel of judges in the Qualifying Round on April 7th. From that group, 25 finalists were selected to expand their business idea and prepare a 10-minute presentation to a panel of judges in the morning on May 12th.  From these, the top three Venture finalists and the top three Main Street finalists competed in the Otter Tank pitch competition.


Startup Challenge Monterey Bay logo

Finalists Announced for the 2018 Startup Challenge

Startup Monterey Bay logo

Eighty-One businesses entered this year’s Startup Challenge, and the field has been narrowed to 25 finalists!  This year’s Finalists are:


Student Division:

  • Ammodo Recruiting
  • BOHO Marketplace
  • Sauce
  • Worknight Creations LLC


Main Street Division:

  • 360 Health Café
  • Abilities Café
  • Arti-Culture
  • CGC Dog Training
  • Monterey Moments
  • Salad Bytes Media
  • Spice of Life Catering
  • Splendid Blended
  • Turn Key (101 Vapes)


Venture Division:

  • Audible RX
  • Check Your Engine Light
  • Cruz Foam
  • Einsigns
  • Levered Learning
  • Leviathan Foods
  • Litmus Box
  • New Wave Programs
  • Ohana Shave Ice
  • Passion Slam
  • Sea Change
  • Time Lock Documentation


Finalists will receive mentoring and pitch workshops to help them prepare for the Finale of this year’s Startup Challenge.  The Finales will feature exhibits of the Finalist businesses at the Venture Showcase and the championship competition at the Otter Tank.  The Finale will be held on May 12th at CSUMB @ Salinas City Center in downtown Salinas.

RSVP Link: https://csumb.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1339&cid=168&p=1 .

More information is available at www.startupmontereybay.com.


Congratulations to everyone that pitched their businesses at the 2018 Startup Challenge Qualifying Round!



Otters in the “Shark Tank”

Note: This article was originally published by The Lutrinae, please follow the link to read the original.

This past Friday through Sunday, Cal State University, Monterey Bay hosted the sixth annual Startup Weekend for the Monterey Bay area. Taking place every January, the event gives young entrepreneurs the chance to learn in an environment that encourages “startup magic,” working together to create startups in one chaotic weekend. Their goal is to help teach through doing, foregoing long panels and textbooks in favor of workshops and collaboration. This is to encourage entrepreneurs to learn through experience, and not just through hypothetical situations.

The main event of the weekend is the startup challenge, where teams compete by delivering short presentations to practice pitching their company to investors or in other professional situations. This “Shark Tank”-style environment doesn’t just offer experience for entrepreneurs, but also gives them a chance to win money in both cash prizes and legal or other business services. The teams are split up into three categories: Venture, for startups aiming high and hoping to grow into proper enterprises; Main Street, for small businesses; and Student, for young entrepreneurs somewhere in between highschool and graduate school.

Landing in first place this year was the proposed service Swoop, which aims to connect homeowners with people seeking parking for venues. Taking second was Line Jumper, a service that would rock the queue-economy by allowing people to buy, sell, and auction their place in line. Coming in third, but winning the ultimate favour of the crowd, was Furever. Furever would set out to connect homeless pets with willing and able owners, a good idea with a lovely sentiment, leaving no surprise as to why in won crowd favourite.

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!

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.

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 MS@k4pb.com or visit http://fc0.co/k4pb.com/.




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

Email: info@opengroundstudios.com

Website: opengroundstudios.com

Instagram: @opengroundstudios

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opengroundstudio

Paul Richmond: https://paulrichmondstudio.com/

Alyssa Endo: https://alyssaendo.com/

Renata Abma: rca-art.com