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CSUMB Press Release: Startup Challenge 2019

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay Prepares for 10th Annual Competition

SEASIDE, Calif., March 4, 2019– California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) is set to host the 10th annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay this spring.


The challenge, offering a total of $65K in prizes across four divisions of competition, has seen more than 600 companies participate over ten years and has awarded more than $300K in prize money.

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is a new business competition and accelerator program that supports the founding, funding and growth of new and innovative businesses in the Monterey Bay region. It offers workshops, feedback, and mentoring to empower entrepreneurs in a competitive process while empowering entrepreneurs to communicate their ideas effectively to investors, customers and employees.

In ten years of competition, Startup Challenge Monterey Bay has trained 2,200 aspiring entrepreneurs from 620 participating companies who have gone on to create more than 150 jobs and raise more than $10 million in capital.

Read the entire press release here.

CSUMB magazine article in iiED

CSUMB Magazine highlights Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) efforts to build local startup ecosystem

Fueling Entrepreneurs

COB’s Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) building region’s business ecosystem


What do surfboards made from shrimp shells, organic cold-pressed juice and an ag-tech mobile app for farm management have in common?

They’re all products made by winners of Startup Challenge Monterey Bay, an annual competition for entrepreneurs sponsored by the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) at Cal State Monterey Bay’s College of Business (COB). More importantly, the entrepreneurs and their businesses are now part of a thriving “economic ecosystem” in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.


Brad Barbeau and Shyam Kamath discussing the institute's success.

Photo by: Joan Iguban Galiguis

Brad Barbeau and Shyam Kamath discuss the iiED’s impact on the region’s entrepreneurs.

“The iiEd has been the fulcrum of the lever to bring the ecosystem into existence,” said COB Dean Shyam Kamath. “If you look at the contribution the iiEd has made, it’s quite fantastic.”

Read the entire article here!

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.

Read More…

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: .

More information is available at


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.