Twenty-Seven Local Startups Advance to the Final Round Startup Challenge Monterey Bay 2023

Twenty-seven innovative and exciting new businesses have been selected to be this year’s finalists in the 2023 Startup Challenge Monterey Bay.

The following companies from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties have been selected to move onto the Final Round:

The eight finalists in the Venture division (businesses intending to scale and provide venture investor-level returns) are:

  • FinalDrafter 
  • Friendly Robots Company 
  • KnowZ 
  • RedRider LLC
  • Sports:Next 
  • Stellaria Creative Company 
  • Sweet Prairie Haskap 

The eight finalists in the Main Street division (small businesses and sole proprietorships) are: 

  • 101 Coffee Bar
  • Brewjee Coffee Co 
  • Chezza Jewelry 
  • Locally Lit
  • Manzi’s Venezuelan Cuisine 
  • PassoDoble 
  • Monterey Conservatory of Therapeutic Arts 
  • The Bus Stop Beer Garden 

The six finalists in the Social Venture division (for profit and not-for-profit businesses with a significant social mission) are: 

  • AK Productions 
  • Art Abilities 
  • CSUMB Observer
  • Get Up and Move (GUM)
  • Play Brightly Youth Charitable Foundation
  • Saving the Earth One Bite at a Time 

The five finalists in the Student division (students in middle school through graduate school) are: 

  • Bubbly Hill Wines 
  • Danceography! 
  • Micro Home Village & Manufacturing Center
  • Nexus Electronics 

This year’s Startup Challenge Qualifying Round was held online. Applicants submitted a 5-minute pitch video that was reviewed by a panel of judges on April 7th. The judges selected the finalists and provided feedback to the businesses.

The Startup Challenge will provide workshops, mentors, and other resources to the 27 finalists to prepare the businesses to compete in the Final Round competition on April 28th.  

Meet the finalists and celebrate the winners on April 28, 2023, 1-4 pm at CSU Monterey Bay’s Otter Student Union. For more information and to RSVP click here

The annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is hosted by the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) at Cal State Monterey Bay.  The iiED, a leading entrepreneurship center in California, promotes entrepreneurship and fosters the development of a diverse and dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Monterey Bay region. Each year the iiED challenges and supports entrepreneurs with the Startup Factory, Startup Challenge, and monthly Startup Connect events. The iiED also supports startups through the Startup Launchpad business incubator program for regional entrepreneurs.

For more information regarding the Startup Challenge and the 2023 Finalists, visit

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