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SBCC Scheinfeld Center Announces Student Winners of 6th Annual New Venture Challenge

Santa Barbara City College’s Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation announced student winners of the sixth Annual New Venture Challenge pitch competition held Friday, April 29, 2016 at SBCC.

The $5,500 collegiate grand prize went to SBCC student Johannes Beck for his electric longboard skateboard, Melonboard. He formulated Melonboard after breaking his ankle, seeking a better and more affordable solution to traveling short distances.

Whether his destination was too far to walk, too short to drive, too sweaty to bike uphill or too unsafe a place to secure his bike, he realized traveling small distances created challenges that many people experience. 

Beck created Melonboard as a sustainable transportation solution for commuting around urban areas, solving many of the problems traveling short distances creates.  Congratulations to Johannes for winning this year’s New Venture Challenge!

The second-place collegiate award, worth $3,000, went to student Tommy Kelly. His winning product, CannaCentrix, is a jewelry line hand-crafted from real cannabis leaves dipped in precious metals. 

Kelly’s vision for the company is to bring luxury and fashion to the fast-growing, billion-dollar cannabis industry.

The third-place collegiate award, totaling $2,000, went to SBCC student Mary Beth Larkin for LARKIN, a fashion brand that revolutionizes the industry by ending the fashion-conscious woman’s relentless search for comfortable, versatile clothing without sacrificing the glamor, beauty and quality that defines them. Her concept of comfort and chic aesthetic is simply unavailable from other popular activewear brands.

According to Julie Samson, the Scheinfeld Center’s director, the presenters were polished and ready at the standing-room-only event.

“The hard work, dedication and innovation of these students were apparent by their high-quality pitches and the diversity of concepts presented. Even more, by advancing their business concepts, these students have gained critical entrepreneurial skills needed for success in our rapidly changing business environment. All presenters have good reason to celebrate their accomplishments,” she said.

The collegiate judges were a formidable team including Lynda Weinman (entrepreneur and co-founder of lynda.com), Kathy Odell (NutraHealth Partners) and Jason Spievak (Invoca). 

At the high school level, first place went to San Marcos High School student Dakota Crowley and team for Surf Alert; second place went to San Marcos High School student Mildred Gonzales Salazar and team for DulceCultura; and third place went to Cabrillo High School student Kaiden Silva and team for Music Voice Printing. 

The high school panel of judges, including Nathalie Gensac (Youth Interactive) and Paul Daniel (Gibraltar CFO Services), brought extensive industry experience with startup ventures.

The high school winners received their awards at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner May 6, 2016 at the Bacara Resort & Spa. 

Hosted by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, the awards banquet serves as a fundraiser for the following year’s awards, and foundation generously sponsors the attendance of the student winners and their guests.

The Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge is a two-tiered pitch competition honoring the business concepts of local college and high school students.

The following sponsors support the $15,000 in cash, scholarship and various in-kind opportunities for the collegiate winners: the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, American Riviera Bank and Bank of the West.

The Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge is also co-sponsored in part by the Santa Barbara County Small Business Development Center, a public service offering no-cost one-on-one counseling and coaching to small business owners. 

For more information about the New Venture Challenge or this year’s winners, visit scheinfeld.sbcc.edu.

— Luz Reyes-Martin is the interim public information officer at Santa Barbara City College.


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