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Spirit of Entrepreneurship Winners’ Circle Soiree Salutes Women Empowerment

Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences receives the inaugural Santa Barbara Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award with a $10,000 prize

Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation board members, from left, director Caroline MacDougall, founder of Teeccino and 2011 Wholesale/Manufacturing winner; secretary Carol Holdsworth, co-founder of Three Sixty Marketing; chairwoman Cathy Feldman, CEO and publisher of Blue Point Books; vice president Darya Bronston, founder of Annovium and 2012 Science/Technology/Manufacturing winner; and director Sabrina Tinajero, vice president of Wells Fargo at the foundation’s Winners’ Circle Soirée held at the Montecito Event Center. Click to view larger
Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation board members, from left, director Caroline MacDougall, founder of Teeccino and 2011 Wholesale/Manufacturing winner; secretary Carol Holdsworth, co-founder of Three Sixty Marketing; chairwoman Cathy Feldman, CEO and publisher of Blue Point Books; vice president Darya Bronston, founder of Annovium and 2012 Science/Technology/Manufacturing winner; and director Sabrina Tinajero, vice president of Wells Fargo at the foundation’s Winners’ Circle Soirée held at the Montecito Event Center. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The inspirational theme of women empowerment held center stage at the Montecito Event Center where the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards Winners’ Circle Soirée featured a group of successful businesswomen from across Santa Barbara County.

The mission of the SOE Foundation is to support entrepreneurship at all levels in Santa Barbara County. Now in its sixth year, the SOE Awards have honored 56 winners and more than 100 finalists with an array of student winners.

The latest gathering reunited many of these past and current winners, assembling old friends and new acquaintances alike in the same room to share past accomplishments and future plans.

“One of our future goals is to create a program that other cities and counties around the country can use to create their own SOE Foundation to support women and student entrepreneurs in their own venues,” board chairwoman Cathy Feldman said. “We have created a blueprint over the past six years, and it is definitely transportable.”

The organization reached another milestone with the inaugural Santa Barbara Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award by providing a special cash award for one of the women winners who had been in business for five years or less.

“Another goal is to grow our Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award, where successful Santa Barbara entrepreneurs donate to a special cash award given to an emerging business who is selected as a winner in one of the 11 categories for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards,” Feldman said.

Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences, who was the 2016 Science/Technology winner, received a $10,000 prize donated by entrepreneurs who are founders of successful businesses, live in Santa Barbara and helped choose the recipient. The generous 2016 donors included Lynda Weinman and Sara Miller McCune, among others.

Based in Goleta, the startup Blue Ocean Sciences brings together experts in chemistry, engineering, biology and business to create solutions for today’s biggest environmental problems.

Specialized technologies from Blue Ocean Sciences include detection systems for hundreds of chemicals in the environment, food or water samples, and a series of water remediation products to clean contaminated water. 

In the spirit of the SB Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award, Blue Ocean Sciences is using the money from the award to create a program to loan out its environmental detection devices to nonprofit and citizen groups.

SOE is not a membership organization and does not hold regular meetings. The efforts of volunteers are key to success to the success of the May awards event. For new volunteer opportunities, email [email protected] or call 805.682.8380.

Mary Beth Larkin, left, collegiate winner of the New Venture Challenge for her clothing line LARKIN, and Andrea Neal, 2016 Science/Technology winner and recipient of the first Santa Barbara Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award for her company, Blue Ocean Sciences.
Mary Beth Larkin, left, collegiate winner of the New Venture Challenge for her clothing line LARKIN, and Andrea Neal, 2016 Science/Technology winner and recipient of the first Santa Barbara Entrepreneurs Giving Back Award for her company, Blue Ocean Sciences. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

“The mission of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation is to support entrepreneurship at all levels because entrepreneurs are the engine for growing our economy,” Feldman said.  “By recognizing women entrepreneurs for the benefit of student entrepreneurs, we believe we are making an important contribution.”

The foundation honors women as well as students associated with the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, business academic programs offered at Santa Barbara City College.

“The SOE is the only nonprofit that honors successful women entrepreneurs for the benefit of student entrepreneurs,” Feldman said. “Since the money we raise from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards goes as seed money and scholarships to the high school and college winners of SBCC Scheinfeld Center's New Venture Challenge business pitch competition, we are adding to the future growth of SB County while acknowledging how many great women entrepreneurs we have here.”

Proceeds from the awards event benefited the winners of the New Venture Challenge. The experimental curriculum teaches youths the tools necessary to build and launch their businesses in a class taught by successful entrepreneurs, a combination that was clearly in evidence from the overwhelming support and in the words of the award winners themselves.

A special student startup showcase of past and current student finalists and winners proudly displayed products and services at the awards dinner with San Marcos High School represented by Dakota Crowley for Surf Alert, Mildred Salazar for Dulce Cultura, Kaiden Silva for Musical Voice Printing and Kadie Pulliam for The Blue Puzzle Project from Lompoc High School. Collegiate winners from SBCC included Johannes Beck for MelonBoard, Tommy Kelly for CannaCentrix and Mary Beth Larkin for LARKIN, with 2015 winner John Harmon for Oil Slick.

“I was honored with the prestige of not only being selected to compete but to actually be selected as one of the winners of the New Venture Challenge. None of this would be possible without the generosity of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation,” Larkin told Noozhawk. “I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of all they have done for me, and entrepreneurs in general. Collaboration is the future of success in Santa Barbara and on a global platform.”

The seventh annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards will be held May 5, 2017, with Lynda Weinman returning to emcee the gala event.

Click here for more information about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, or call 805.682.8775. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

The 2016 SOE winners — seated: Kristi Cooper of Pilates Anytime (Media/Communications), Judy Hawkins of Ruby Road Leadership (Professional Services); Sara Miller McCune of SAGE Publications (Rock Star) and Robin Walker of Core Fitness Training (Health); standing: Randee Disraeli of Kanaloa Seafood (Green/Social Entrepreneurship), Sherry Villanueva of Acme Hospitality (Hospitality/Tourism), Norah Eddy of Salty Girl Seafood (Emerging Business), Mahri Kerley of Chaucer’s Bookstore (Retail), Nathalie Gensac of Youth Interactive (Nonprofit), Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences (Science/Technology), emcee Lynda Weinman and Morgan Clendenen of Cold Heaven Cellars (Agricultural/Wineries). Click to view larger
The 2016 SOE winners — seated: Kristi Cooper of Pilates Anytime (Media/Communications), Judy Hawkins of Ruby Road Leadership (Professional Services); Sara Miller McCune of SAGE Publications (Rock Star) and Robin Walker of Core Fitness Training (Health); standing: Randee Disraeli of Kanaloa Seafood (Green/Social Entrepreneurship), Sherry Villanueva of Acme Hospitality (Hospitality/Tourism), Norah Eddy of Salty Girl Seafood (Emerging Business), Mahri Kerley of Chaucer’s Bookstore (Retail), Nathalie Gensac of Youth Interactive (Nonprofit), Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences (Science/Technology), emcee Lynda Weinman and Morgan Clendenen of Cold Heaven Cellars (Agricultural/Wineries). (Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation photo)
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