Business / Economy

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay 2017 orientation in downtown Hollister

Business competition and accelerator program offers thousands in prizes for new businesses; orientation on Thursday, March 2
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Hollister City Hall. File photo.
Hollister City Hall. File photo.

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is a new business competition and accelerator program that supports the founding, funding and growth of new and innovative businesses in the Monterey Bay region. It offers workshops, feedback, and mentoring to empower entrepreneurs in a competitive process.

The City of Hollister is sponsoring an orientation to be hosted 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, March 2 at the Hollister City Hall Council Chambers located at 375 5th Street in downtown Hollister. 

Applications are due by midnight, Monday, March 13 for the 2017 Startup Challenge Monterey Bay. The Challenge is open to all entrepreneurs and start up companies in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, as well as the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill. Applications are to be completed online at

The competition has three divisions: The Venture Division for businesses designed to grow into large businesses; the Main Street Division for small businesses, sole proprietorships, and nonprofits; and the Student Division for student teams at all levels from high school through graduate school.

Prizes offered by the Challenge include $1,500 cash for the winning Student Division team, $10,000 cash and $2,500 in professional services for the winning Main Street company, and a $20,000 grand prize in cash and $10,000 in professional services for the winning Venture Division company

Following the March 13 application deadline, the qualifying round pitches will take place on April 8, and the final round and venture showcase will be May 12.

The Startup Challenge Monterey Bay is organized by a committee of community members and managed by the Institute for Innovation & Economic Development (iiED). The iiED supports the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem to provide resources entrepreneurs need to be successful.  The Institute also offers programs that engage entrepreneurs and managers worldwide in learning about innovation and entrepreneurial practice. The iiED is an institute of the College of Business at CSU Monterey Bay. For more information, email  or call (831) 582-3230.

Kristina Chavez Wyatt

With more than a decade of community engagement, business advocacy, public relations and government affairs experience, Kristina Chavez Wyatt specializes in building and favorably positioning projects, programs, products and organizations via building coalitions of support through grassroots community engagement. She currently focuses on developing and executing strategic communications programs, building relationships, economic development strategy, business advocacy and navigating processes of government. Kristina formed Farmhouse Communications in 2011 following serving as a senior account executive for prominent national public affairs firm Meridian Pacific, Inc. and a central coast public relations firm Armanasco Public Relations, Inc. where she specialized in community relations, government affairs and media relations with a primary focus on PR, public affairs, land use and environmental policy, hospitality & tourism development, business advocacy, agriculture and grassroots community engagement. Kristina serves as Executive Director of the San Benito County Business Council, as a community engagement consultant in business development, energy, land use, agriculture and public policy sectors. She also serves as a Client Advisor for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC). She is active throughout the Central Coast region in Farm Day agricultural education programs, area Chambers of Commerce, Farm Bureaus of San Benito, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties, Rotary Club of Hollister and California Women for Agriculture. She was appointed by Governor Brown in July 2014 to serve as a Trustee of the 33rd Agricultural District/San Benito County Fair. Kristina has been recognized as the 2009 Salinas Jaycees Outstanding Young Citizen, the 2010 Central Coast Young Farmers and Ranchers Member of the Year and 2010 Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year. Under her leadership, Farmhouse Communications was honored by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau as 2015 Service Business of the Year. Kristina’s work in community engagement as a member of the project team on the City of Salinas Economic Development Element was lauded in May and July 2015 by the American Planning Association Northern California and California State Chapters with awards of excellence for economic development planning and in April 2016 with an Outstanding Award in planning by the Association of Environmental Professionals. Kristina is a 5th generation Californian, raised in Gilroy. She is a graduate of Gavilan College and the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Agriculture and lives in Hollister with her husband Craig Wyatt who works as an agricultural crop production supervisor, their twin daughters Hailey and Molly and dog Rabbit.