Santa Barbara City College recently announced the winners of the 11th annual Scheinfeld New Venture Challenge competition, held last month showcasing some of the region’s most innovative college and high school entrepreneurs.
Students from Santa Barbara City College and UCSB kicked off the collegiate tier of the event, followed by the high school tier, which featured students from San Marcos High School. The aspiring entrepreneurs competed for over $15,000 in cash awards and startup support.
Military veteran Steven Benavidez from SBCC took home the Military Veteran Startup Award for the highest scoring business plan. His venture Argonauts Tactical will manufacture textile tactical gear for civil, law enforcement, paramedic, and private security use, such as medical pouches, magazine pouches, tactical belts, plate carriers, chest rigs, and admin pouches.
The $5,500 grand prize in the collegiate tier went to Santa Barbara City College student Elvis Idunate for his venture, Texas Tacos, which will provide students in Isla Vista delicious and portable Tex-Mex style breakfast tacos at an affordable price.
Eva Krognes from UCSB took home second place and $3,000 for WTR Pearl, an innovative portable home water filter that uses a motor, impeller, and magnets to provide fast filtration and automatic shut-off once the water is completely filtered. The filter can be placed in any water container and it remineralizes water and adds electrolytes.
The third place prize of $2,000 went to UCSB student Mihir Shevgaonkar for Solaris, a venture that will manufacture and deploy drones to provide farmers actionable insights that lead to increased profits and reduced costs. Solaris will help farmers decrease water and fertilizer usage, quickly recognize disease and pests, increase yields, and optimize harvest to become more competitive in the market.
In the high school tier, San Marcos students Kennedy Frisell and Ben Webber won first place and $1,000 for their venture, Happy Patch, which provides aesthetically pleasing adhesive covers for medical insulin delivery devices to keep them securely on the skin and maximize the life of the device.
Ava Cannizzaro from San Marcos earned second place and a $600 award for her venture Soapgoat, which provides an eco-friendly plastic-free alternative to the everyday shampoo bottle along with environmentally safe soap.
Third place and $400 went to San Marcos student Adopho Gonzalez and Guilio Rambeili for their venture Strapped IN, which will manufacture a car seat accessory that stabilizes children’s heads to prevent whiplash, providing them a safe and fun journey.
The winners were determined by independent judges who are established entrepreneurs and investors in their own right and hold senior level positions in their companies. The collegiate judges panel included military veteran Curtis Riggs of the Military Influencer Conference; Nitin Pachisia of Unshackled Ventures; and Mateo Neri of Emerald Peak Private Equity. Serving the high school tier were judges Rita Mounir of Allthenticate; Ronnie Rich of Fitbanker; and Warren B Ritter II of Wealth Management Systems.
“After a demanding year that has laid bare many challenges in our region and across the globe, entrepreneurship and innovation restores hope in a bright future. Our region’s aspiring student entrepreneurs demonstrate that innovation, passion, and determination can succeed against all odds,” Julie Samson, director of the Scheinfeld Center, said in a statement. “We invite our entire community to join in supporting their success.”