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Startup Challenge Monterey Bay seeking applicants

Social Venture Division is a new category for competition and will appeal to nonprofit organizations.
Joel Esqueda, center, founder of ARTI-Culture, with Hollister Councilman Rolan Resendiz and Lynda Reyna at the annual Startup Challenge Monterey Bay in 2018. ARTI-Culture won a $2,500 runner-up prize. File photo by Tom Leyde.

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is back in 2019, offering regional businesses and entrepreneurs a chance to gain additional funding for their endeavors.

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is a business competition and accelerator program that supports the founding, funding and growth of new and innovative businesses in San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties. The event is a project of CSU-Monterey Bay’s Institute for Innovation and Economic Development.

The challenge features workshops, feedback and mentoring to empower entrepreneurs in a competitive process. This is the startup challenge’s 10th year.

Applications are due March 11 and can be submitted on the website.

There are four divisions that businesses and entrepreneurs can choose from:

  • Venture Division: Businesses intended to scale into large enterprises and provide venture capital-level returns to investors. Total prize money available: $30,000.
  • Social Venture Division: Open to companies and organizations (either for profit or nonprofit) that have a strong social mission. Total prize money available: $15,000.
  • Main Street Division: Open to small businesses and sole proprietorships. Total prize money available: $15,000.
  • Student Division: Student entrepreneurs and teams at the graduate, undergraduate, junior college, or high school level. Total prize money available: $15,000.

Social Venture is the latest addition to the program. Organizers expect this to be a strong division, as the region has traditionally been strong in the number and variety of nonprofit organizations that participate.

The qualifying round for the startup challenge is expected to take place April 6, followed by a final round May 10.

A series of workshops will be held prior to the application deadline to help applicants learn about the rules, eligibility requirements and competitive divisions of the startup challenge.

The workshops will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at these locations:

  • Feb. 26: Small Business Development Center, 106 Lincoln Ave., Salinas
  • Feb. 28: Hollister City Hall, 375 Fifth St., Hollister
  • March 4: Seaside Creates, 656 Broadway, Seaside
  • March 5: NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz, 100 Cooper St., Santa Cruz
  • March 7: CSUMB Gambord Building Room 111, 3054 Divarty St., Seaside

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is familiar to San Benito County businesses. That Garlic Stuff, owned by Michelle Doty, won $10,000 in prize money in the Main Street division in 2018. Arti-Culture was runner-up in the division and won $2,500. Ohana Shave Ice competed in the Venture division, but did not win money. They were runner-up in the Main Street division in 2017. Credo Studio in San Juan Bautista won the competition in 2017.

For more information on the 2019 competition, visit the Startup Challenge Monterey Bay website.


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