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13th Annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay Competition Results & Winners!

This past Friday, the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) and the College of Business at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) hosted the 13th Annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay in person for the first time in three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Twenty-six teams of entrepreneurs competed for over $32,000 in cash prizes, business services, and mentorship. 

Held at the CSUMB University Center, teams presented their business ideas to regional business experts who served as judges in the Final Round of the competition. Fifty teams of entrepreneurs entered the Challenge and twenty-six teams remained to compete on Friday, May 6, 2022. 

Startup Challenge Participants

The finalists, all from the Monterey Bay region, competed in a “shark tank” style final round hoping to join the likes of past winners (which include Cruz Foam, Carmel Honey Company, HeavyConnect) who’ve since seen great success in their business ventures.

The Challenge offers four divisions – Venture, Main Street, Student, and Social Venture.  The Venture division is for businesses that intend 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 in high school through graduate school. The Social Venture division is for individuals seeking to launch non-profits or for-profit businesses with a social mission.

Attendees received $30,000 in Otter dollars, which they were encouraged to “invest” in the Startup Challenge finalist companies at the event’s Venture Showcase. The Startup Challenge entrepreneur team with the most Otter dollars received the Crowd Favorite award.

This year’s winners by division:

Venture Division:

Main Street Division:

Social Venture Division:

  • Grand Prize: WorkArk – staffing, education, business development
  • Runners-Up (2): 
    • A Treasured Tree – Holiday trees with shelves that can be decorated to display holiday treats and gifts
    • Set Free Monterey Bay – Committed to serving survivors of sex trafficking. Serving women (18 and over) in ongoing case management, therapy, and helping them find residential care.

Student Division:

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is supported by CSU, Monterey Bay’s Institute for Innovation and Economic Development. Major supporters and sponsors of the Challenge were Bank of America, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Monterey County California, Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange (EIX), California State University Monterey Bay’s College of Business, and White Summers Caffee & James, LLP. Marketing partners include 90.3 KAZU Radio, Monterey County Weekly, and Santa Cruz Works.

The Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) is a community outreach program of the College of Business at CSUMB. Supported through community contributions, sponsorships, and grants, the iiED staff, faculty, students, and business volunteers have worked with over 4,800 aspiring entrepreneurs, supported over 840 startup companies which have created over 200 jobs and have raised over $35,000,000 in capital.

If you would like to support the activities of the iiED, please contact Dan Ripke at dripke@csumb.edu to learn more.

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