Startup Challenge 10th anniversary invite

Startup Challenge Monterey Bay – created at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) under the leadership of Brad Barbeau, the executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (iiED) and associate professor of entrepreneurship in the College of Business – will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Seaside on Friday, May 10 from 2 to 7:30 p.m.

Each ticket holder will receive 100,000 Otter Dollars to use in investing in an “Otter Tank” company of choice. CSUMB students who contact the iiED have preferential entry. The May 10 schedule is as follows: 2 p.m. – Venture Showcase Opens; 3 p.m. – Otter Tank Competition; 6:30 p.m. – Networking

“There are quite a few CSUMB students entered in the Challenge,” stated Barbeau, “although only one has made it to the finals. Several of the student businesses are planning to launch.” Many do not realize that the BUS 410: New Venture Design course – which incorporates the Challenge as part of the curriculum – is open to non-business students and has no prerequisites.

The iiED, housed in the College of Business, is the entrepreneurial hub of the region, organizing events such as the Startup Challenge “to promote entrepreneurship in the Monterey Bay Region and foster the development of a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region,” stated Barbeau.

Over the past decade of its history, more than 600 companies have participated and more than $300,000 has been awarded. More than 150 jobs have been created by 2,200 aspiring entrepreneurs who have raised more than $10 million in capital.

This year, there will be $65,000 in prizes. The challenge has four divisions: Venture, Social Venture, Main Street and Student. The Venture division is for businesses that are intended to scale into large enterprises and that can provide venture-capital level returns to investors.
“The new venture competition is an opportunity for people to start a business and to receive some coaching and mentoring to help them understand how to start their business,” Barbeau said.

The Social Venture division is open to nonprofits and companies who make social welfare a significant part of their company mission statement. The Main Street division is for small businesses while the Student division is for students in graduate, undergraduate, junior college or high school levels. This year, there are eight Startup Challenge finalists in each of the Venture, Social Venture and Main Street divisions, and three in the Student division.

“The goal of the startup challenge isn’t so much to crown a winner, as it is to encourage people to go after their dreams to start a business,” stated Barbeau.

The three requirements to be eligible participate are: a start-up not yet operational or emerging business in the launch phase; a business located in the Monterey Bay region; and the business idea is original and personally proprietary.

Students are encouraged to attend and cheer on their favorite finalist at the event. Go to for more information.

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