Dive into the Otter Tank with Startup Challenge Finalists

By Sarah Vickers-Webb, April 28, 2021

Startup Challenge Finale is free,100% virtual and open to the public May 7, 2021 from 2-6 PM PDT. RSVP at startupchallengemb.com.

After weeks of workshops, mentoring, and pitch perfecting work, 26 finalists will compete at the Startup Challenge Monterey Bay Finale on May 7, 2021. From agtech informatics, to pizza sauce, to circular market cooperatives, viewers can meet finalists, discover exciting new businesses, and watch the Otter Tank competition— all from the comfort of your own home.

During the online Startup Challenge Qualifying Round on April 9, 2021, participating businesses submitted five-minute pitch videos. After viewing the pitches, judges selected 26 finalists and provided feedback to all businesses who participated. Finalists are now in the process of attending workshops, meeting with mentors, and utilizing other resources supplied by Startup Challenge Monterey Bay, to enhance their pitch and get ready to compete at the Otter Tank.

This year’s Startup Challenge Finale is free, 100% virtual, and open to the public. Viewers can discover new startups at an online Venture Showcase. Beginning at 2 pm on Friday, May 7th, tune in for the Otter Tank— a shark tank-like pitch competition where Main Street and Venture finalists compete for cash prizes and additional mentorship opportunities, and stick around to meet the winners of all divisions, announced throughout the afternoon.

Startup Challenge has four divisions: Venture, Social Venture, Mainstreet and Student. Businesses intended to scale and provide venture-investor level returns compete in the Venture division. Those with a significant social mission compete in the Social Venture division. Small businesses and sole proprietorships compete in the Main Street Division, and students from middle to graduate school compete in the Student division. 

While only Venture and Mainstreet divisions will compete in the Otter Tank this year, viewers will have a chance to meet Student and Social Venture division winners and hear about their business during the Q&A interviews throughout the afternoon

Learn more about the finalists and Startup Challenge below, and RSVP today! See you at the Otter Tank!

Meet the Finalists

Venture Division Finalists

  • AGXactly Crop Insights: An informatics platform that helps determine contributing events to the farmer’s crop loss totals.
  • Blacksite Solutions, Inc: A company offering a wide variety of products and services for SMB’s to Enterprise.
  • Campus Buddy: A user friendly navigation system to help students easily find destinations.
  • Segura Enterprise: A device warning drivers and pedestrians of oncoming emergency vehicles, helping first responders avoid traffic.
  • Shreddit LLC: A mobile game and social media integrated app committed to bringing an environmentally conscious shift to the global skateboarding community and industry. 
  • The Local Thrive: A platform allowing producers to list and notify followers of upcoming events.
  • Trailblazer: An innovative platform assisting entrepreneurs with finding investors and presenting pitches.
  • Urbanicfarm: A local food network allowing people to buy and sell local food.
  • StressFree TC, LLC: An automated platform for 50 manual tasks related to Real Estate transactions, offering transparency to buyers, sellers, and agents.
  • Vission by Stratus Media Group: A group providing superior pay and representation among content creators with direct access to an administrative board, where members can air grievances and advocate for change.                                                

Main Street division finalists 

  • AADE Gaming: An online gaming platform allowing worldwide gamers to compete, earn rank, gain exposure and receive updates with the latest gaming information.
  • Pizzauce: A delicious and chimichurri pizza sauce, providing another option besides crushed pepper.
  • Paradox Point: A Seaside food park, beer and wine garden, and community lot providing a location for food trucks and vendors to showcase their local businesses.
  • Red Engine Rides: A ride to put a smile on your face and provide that instagramable moment that you won’t forget.
  • Saucy Otter Brewing Co: A Microbrewery and venue in Pacific Grove.
  • Social Monterey: A platform helping small business owners save time, ditch the overwhelm and build thriving online communities with social media services.
  • Solar Optimisation Labs aka Dirty Solar: A mobile phone app ensuring photovoltaic array owners get the most out of their investment by letting them know when it is cost effective and coupling them with array cleaners.
  • Xterminatrix: A holistic pest management control that minimizes chemical use and utilizes biological knowledge of pest species without causing undue harm to the non-targeted species.

Social Venture Division Finalists 

  • Connections: A program to address social isolation and loneliness for adults and seniors by making local events and activities easier to find for locals and visitors.
  • Seeds4STEM: A product to keep 3rd-8th graders engaged with real-world, hands-on STEM experiences.
  • Plush World: A program with a mission to eliminate word learning gaps across socio-economic status and revolutionize Bilingual Learning.
  • Rework Co-Op: An artisan cooperative for the circular fashion economy, providing entrepreneurs with access to textile waste, a communal workspace, sewing tools, joint marketing & online sales for their upcycled creations.

Student Division Finalists

  • Hempowered: An antibacterial hemp products company seeking to reduce waste, deforestation and erosion in the paper industry 
  • Ironwood Design Studio: A creator’s space and workshop providing studio space and equipment for hobbyists and crafters, equipped with a wide variety of tools, as well as computers.
  • Rainberry Beauty: A sugar-based lip scrub with moisturizing vitamin e and coconut oils to address and prevent chapped lips, irritation, and hyperpigmentation.
  • The Sweat Lodge: A family-owned and operated establishment focused on naturally healing military members and their families while giving back to the community through education, friendship, and kindness.

Startup Challenge History

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is the premier competitive startup competition for new businesses across Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, with a mission to provide a platform for visibility, connections and funding to local entrepreneurs and offer them the tools they need to succeed in the marketplace.

The Startup Challenge began in 2010 as the Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition, and was created by the Marina Tech Cluster, a business incubator located at the MBEST Center in Marina. When the Marina Tech Cluster closed in 2013, the Challenge moved to its current home at the Institute for Innovation & Economic Development (iiED) in the College of Business at CSUMB. 

Over the past 11 years, the Challenge has provided a launch pad for a variety of businesses across the Central Coast. Since 2010, over 840 businesses have entered the Challenge. Past finalists include infiniRel, Yoderm (now Apostrophe), Cruz Foam, HeavyConnect, New Wave Programs, Monterey Bay MovesNece’s Gluten Free Baked Goods in Monterey, New Bohemian Brewing Company in Santa Cruz, Open Ground Studios in Seaside, and the Carmel Honey Company in Carmel and Monterey.

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