Other honorees included the MIT Enterprise Forum, which received the Excellence in Service Award; Mission Linen, recipient of the Company of the Year Award; Ron Werft of Cottage Health System, named Executive of the Year; and Fred Gluck, who received the Pioneer Award.
More than 700 guests thronged Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort for the event, which benefits the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara while honoring individuals and businesses that helped boost Santa Barbara County’s economic vitality.
The benefit also raises more than $125,000 in scholarship funding for business and technology majors at UCSB, SBCC and Westmont College. Event sponsors have helped raise $1.3 million for more than 550 students since 1995.
In accepting his Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the smartly dressed Schauser first explained his “unusual” attire.
“Getting ready for tonight, I looked in my closet and realized that my wetsuits outnumbered my business suits,” he said to laughs, before noting that he was wearing the only suit he had ever owned — one he purchased for his first job interview at UCSB. In 1993.
Calling Santa Barbara “a great community to be a startup,” Schauser shared some advice for others who aspire to follow in his entrepreneurial shoes if not his suits. He said he realized the most important lesson — market validation — after “a $10 million oops” the first time out and he’s paid close attention to that research in his subsequent ventures.
The serial entrepreneur said recruiting “a great and flexible team” is key to creating success from the inside. From the outside? “Find investors you like,” he said.
Bob Johnson, a longtime leader of the MIT Enterprise Forum, accepted the Service Award on behalf of his organization, which provides a platform for local entrepreneurs and business leaders to discuss cutting-edge technologies and network with other innovators.
“The South Coast actually breeds technology companies,” he said. “... To us, the innovation is making the inconceivable inevitable.”
Jeff DeVine, president and CEO of American Riviera Bank and co-chairman of the awards dinner’s steering committee, said the event has three objectives.
“It’s an evening to celebrate excellence in the South Coast business community, a networking opportunity with hundreds of top business leaders and an avenue to support our future business leaders through the funds raised for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara,” he said.
Danna McGrew, a partner at Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP who co-chaired the event with DeVine, said the dinner is Santa Barbara’s marquee event.
“The event brings together businesses from a variety of industries to honor key innovators and executives who help drive and grow our local economy,” she said. “As a local business owner, my partners and I are proud to be part of such a dynamic event that celebrates remarkable successes and creates resources to educate and inspire future leaders.”
Click here for more information on the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, or call 805.687.6065. Click here to make an online donation. Connect with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara on Facebook.