The gala awards event will honor 10 women who exemplify what it means to be a successful entrepreneur as well as the student winners of a business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge, put on by Santa Barbara City College’s Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
This unique collaboration is designed to celebrate entrepreneurship at all levels in Santa Barbara County. Both the women and student winners will receive their awards at the dinner on May 9.
According to Cathy Feldman, board chair/CEO of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, the partnership with the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is a great opportunity for both organizations.
“We know that entrepreneurship is one of the key drivers in the economy and women business owners are one of the fastest-growing groups,” Feldman said. “We had over 80 women nominated for our Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards this year, so it was not easy for our independent judges to select winners in the nine categories. At the same time, we believe it is important to support future entrepreneurs, which is why the proceeds from our Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner go toward prizes and scholarships for the student winners of the Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge.”
The Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge competition is a two-tiered business plan competition for the region’s college students, as well as area high school students, to promote youth entrepreneurship.
Melissa Moreno, Scheinfeld Center Director, points out, “The New Venture Challenge gives our high school and college students an opportunity to showcase their business concepts to the community. Thanks to our generous donors including Bank of Santa Barbara, Lynda.com, Montecito Bank and Trust and the SOE Foundation, the winning students will be receiving scholarships or start-up cash, totaling at least $15,000.”
Moreno and Feldman cite some examples of the successes that have been achieved by both the student and women winners. The top collegiate winners in 2013 is company called Fertile Grounds that recycles coffee grounds for fertilizer and have developed a method to liquefy them that is finding customers in the agricultural community. The winning women entrepreneurs serve as role models for the students and have their own success stories. Ali Bauerlein, the winner of the Science and Technology Award in 2013 and one of the founders of Inogen, successfully took the company public in February, and Kathy Odell, the founding CEO of that company ( and several others) won the Rock Star: Life Achievement Award.
Susanne Chess, the winner of the Retail/Wholesale/Manufacturing Award for 2013, has developed a whole new business, Car Pods, with her partner while her Fine Fabrics of Santa Barbara and ForceFins continue to grow.
Lynda Weinman, co-founder and executive chair of lynda.com will once again be the emcee. And one of the women winners has already been announced: Betty Hatch will receive the Rock Star: Life Achievement Award for 2014 for being one of the pioneering women entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara.
Information about tickets and sponsorships for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner is available by clicking here, or contact Feldman at 805.682.8775.
— Cathy Feldman is the board chairwoman/CEO for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.