Startup Challenge Monterey Bay 2021 Winners Announced!

Congratulations to AGXactly, Seeds4STEM, Social Monterey and Ironwood Makerspace

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the pandemic, it’s great to have something to look forward to. And the newly announced winners of Startup Challenge Monterey Bay are bringing us just that. From edtech to agtech, to social media to a creator’s space, the diverse group of winners have big plans for the Monterey Bay region.

The Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (IIED) at California State Monterey Bay held the 12th annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay Finale Friday, May 7, 2021. After an exciting Otter Tank pitch competition, and much deliberation, judges announced the winners.

Congratulations to Venture Division winner AGXactly, Social Venture Division Winner Seeds4STEM, Main Street Division Winner Social Monterey and Student Division Winner Ironwood Makerspace.

This year 49 participants entered the Challenge and submitted five minute pitch videos for the Qualifying Round on April 9, 2021. Judges then selected 26 finalists who were paired with mentors and attended workshops to prepare their business summary and perfect their final pitch in time for the Finale.

The Startup Challenge also introduced and presented the Best Woman-Owned Business Award award to Main Street Division finalist XterminatriX. The award was sponsored and presented by the Regional Women’s Business Center of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation. 

Missed out on the action? Watch footage from the Otter Tank and learn more about the winners, runners-up and other finalists by registering for a free account.

Meet the Winners

Venture Division 

  • Winner: AGXactly: an agriculture informatics company that helps cultivators of specialty row crops reduce crop losses, resulting in greater yields, revenues and supply chain produce.
  • Runner Up and People’s Choice Winner: UrbanicFarm: a marketplace that connects local farmers to consumers, creating a platform for community-based micro-gardening to buy & sell local fresh food.
  • Runner Up: Segura Enterprise: a public safety startup providing pedestrians more time to react to oncoming first responders and reducing response time for first responders.

Social Venture Division 

  • Winner: Seeds4STEM: an edtech startup providing STEM curriculum to parents of 3rd-8th graders, intended for use with groups of children in STEM clubs.
  • Runner-Up: Connections: a nonprofit featuring a website with activities, events, and connection opportunities for seniors, organized by county.
  • Runner-Up: Rework: a sustainable fashion cooperative that harvests usable parts from damaged textiles and provides entrepreneurs with communal tools, joint marketing opportunities and online sales to create ‘upcycled’ fashion lines.

Main Street Division 

  • Winner: Social Monterey: a social media audit, management and strategy startup helping small business owners save time, ditch the overwhelm and build thriving online communities 
  • Runner-Up & People’s Choice Award Winner: Saucy Otter Brewing Co.: a family-friendly brewery and tap house microbrewery offering craft beer, selected wines and simple farm to table tasty bites.
  • Runner-Up: Red Engine Rides: an entertainment and event company featuring a converted 1970 American LaFrance fire engine with adding bench seating for ten guests, available for scenic rides around town, brewery/winery tours, birthday parties and private events.

Student Division 

  • Winner: Ironwood Makerspace: a creator’s space and workshop providing studio space and equipment for hobbyists and crafters in a community based atmosphere.

Startup Challenge and IIED extend a warm congratulations to all who placed in the competition.

About Startup Challenge

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.

Startup Challenge currently has four divisions: Venture, Social Venture, Main Street 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. 

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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