Santa Cruz Tech Beat

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The Startup Challenge 2014: an acceleration program for startups

TheStartupChallange-logo“When it comes to starting a tech company in the Santa Cruz Monterey Bay Area, you don’t have to feel like the Lone Ranger,” says Susan Barich of Barich Business Services in Santa Cruz.

Susan reeled off the rich mix of resources — Nextspace, Cruzio, SBDC, incubator programs, angel investors, college and university business programs, Meetups, Santa Cruz Tech Beat, Chambers of Commerce, LinkedIn discussion groups, and Event Santa Cruz — and then introduced me to a competition she founded: The Startup Challenge.

Now in its fifth year, the competition, formerly known as the Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition, is being morphed into an acceleration program for startups, with an increased emphasis on working with entrepreneurs to help them with the business end of business.

“No one can tell you about your technology or your area of expertise,” says Barich.  “You are an innovator, and you know exactly where you’re going with your technology. But the Startup Challenge will teach you the fundamentals of how to form and grow a business that will get your solution into the market place and prosper.”

The Startup Challenge has in its first four years served more than 200 entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to regional, state and nation-wide problems, from telemedicine to life-saving technology for first responders.

Everyone who participates is a winner, Barich says, because applying and presenting at the Fever Pitch elimination round is an intense learning process.

Amy Doherty is founder of Tech by Chocolate, a startup that makes chocolates that are organic and fair trade and shaped like technology devices. In an interview at the 2013 Fever Pitch, the elimination round held last March where all applicants give a 5-minute pitch, Amy said, “It’s always going to be valuable that I did this because I now have a business plan that is completely scalable.”

lunaWhat are some past winners up to now?

•  2010 Winner Larrel, a company established by dentist Larry Wallace and his wife, Ellen, that provides high-quality dentures in an hour for those who cannot afford the traditional process, has established itself as an international leader in providing life-saving dental repair to thousands.  View a video of Larrel’s process here.

•  2012 Runner Up Luma Family Yoga renovated, moved into and provides services from a previously discarded building in downtown Santa Cruz.

•  yoderm2012 Winner YoDerm has secured angel funding, launched its teledermatology app to the general public, and gained paying customers with the active support of practicing dermatologists across California.

Events coming up for The 2014 Startup Challenge:

  • Introductory Workshops: w/ Alan Barich:
    • Tuesday, December 10, 2014, 4-6pm, NextSpace
    • Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 4-6pm, NextSpace
    • Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 4-6pm, NextSpace
    • (Note: More workshops will be planned for Cruzio, as well.)
  • Preparatory Workshops:  February/March
  • Applications Due:  March 10, 2014
  • Fever Pitch Round:  March 28, 2014
  • Finalist Workshops:  April
  • Business Plans Due:  April 21, 2014
  • Final Event:  May 2, 2014.

Oh . . . there are $50,000 of prizes in cash and services.  Learn more at http://www.TheStartupChallenge.org.

Sara Isenberg
Producer, editor, curator
Santa Cruz Tech Beata news digest for folks who want to know and share what’s up in the Santa Cruz technology community.

Sara Isenberg curates and publishes Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the benefit of the extended business and technology community. When she is not volunteering her time for the tech scene, Sara makes her living by managing software projects, web strategy planning, and providing development team services (including account management, vendor management, strategic partner management, beta project management, referrals to qualified technical team members, and more). Please visit http://saraisenberg.com or contact Sara by email at sara@saraisenberg.com if you have any project management, account management, or Development Team leadership or service needs.
Judges Chuck Erickson, former director of the Software Business Cluster in San Jose;  Angel and entrepreneur Brooks McChesney of Carmel Valley, and Eric Tao, Director and Professor of Information Technology and Communication Design at CSUMB listen to 5-minute pitches at last year's Fever Pitch.

Judges Chuck Erickson, former director of the Software Business Cluster in San Jose; Angel and entrepreneur Brooks McChesney of Carmel Valley, and Eric Tao, Director and Professor of Information Technology and Communication Design at CSUMB listen to 5-minute pitches at last year’s Fever Pitch.

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