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Business

Surf-Themed Men’s Underwear Line Takes Top Honors in SBCC New Venture Challenge

10 Santa Barbara City College student entrepreneurs and their teams present their burgeoning businesses in 7th annual competition

Santa Barbara City College student Thomas Lundgard won the SBCC Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge on Friday with his Meraki Surf line of men’s underwear. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara City College student Thomas Lundgard won the SBCC Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge on Friday with his Meraki Surf line of men’s underwear. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Surf imagery may be ubiquitous on shirts, shorts, sweaters and other garb in Santa Barbara, but not much thought has been given to imbuing one underappreciated type of apparel with the community’s unofficial-official sport: men’s underwear.

That may soon change, however, with Meraki Surf, the brainchild of Santa Barbara City College business major Thomas Lundgard, who won first place on Friday in the SBCC Scheinfeld Center’s seventh annual New Venture Challenge.

With the funding infusion that comes along with first place, Lundgard plans to order his first bulk shipment of surf-themed underwear, which he pitched to local business leaders and entrepreneurs as more comfortable and affordable — not to mention more stylish — than what’s currently on the market.

All 10 of the New Venture Challenge’s finalists hail from SBCC, whose Scheinfeld Center programming features courses on launching an enterprise, business plan development, production design and rapid prototyping.

Students, most of whom are 18 to 30 years old, can also find internships, networking opportunities, mentoring and post-startup support. Some 35 students enroll each semester, yielding seven to 12 businesses that launch by the end, according to the center’s director, Julie Samson.

Named for the late James Scheinfeld, an SBCC donor and SBCC Foundation board member, the center was founded in 2007. The enterprise launch program started up three years later, originally as a campus club.

After rapidly developing their business concepts, competitors had 10 minutes to explain their venture, along with the problem or issue it addresses, its target consumers, why it’s better than industry competitors and how they plan to get it off the ground.

Lundgard told judges at SBCC’s Fé Bland Forum that his product-development process included narrowing down a list of 40 potential manufacturers in China to one, and utilizing a material three times softer than cotton. He said his 10 years of surfing have made him connections with pro surfers who are willing to market his products.

The designs of Meraki Surf’s small to extra-large skivvies include “a floral print inspired by Hawaiian leaves, a tribal print inspired by Aztec prints, and a design with palm trees, surf fins and other surf-related things,” he said.

Taking second Friday was Silvia Franco, who pitched Casa de Comer and its Smokin’ Good Salsa, a grilling-flavored homemade salsa she said she planned to market at festivals, fundraisers, tailgate parties and to food reviewers.

Judge Scott Hamilton called Franco and her husband’s creation “absolutely delicious.”

The third-place honor went to Piper Lovegreen and Piper Swimwear, a line of athletic women’s swimwear. Lovegreen said the line counters a surplus of uncomfortable, expensive or bad-looking swimwear in the local market.

Following the collegiate competition was one for 10 high school finalists from San Marcos High School and Cabrillo High School in Lompoc.

Taking first was San Marcos' Elizabeth Kravchuk, whose TuneIn app calls interpreters for any language during an emergency if first responders are unable to converse with a patient.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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