Hollister entrepreneurs eye cash prize

Ohana Ice, owned by Peter and Karina Hernandez, is one of the finalists for Start-Up Challenge Monterey Bay.

The next stop is Salinas for two Hollister finalists at the finals for Start-Up Challenge Monterey Bay, a yearly entrepreneur competition organized by California State University Monterey Bay.

Ohana Shaved Ice and Arti-Culture will vie for cash prizes at the finale on May 12, at the Salinas City Center in downtown Salinas. Before they can claim an award, both businesses will need to perform under the bright lights in a California State University Monterey Bay version of “Shark Tank,” a popular ABC reality show starring Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, and Kevin O’Leary.

Ohana Shaved Ice and Arti-Culture are among the 21 finalists, from a field that included 81 local small businesses and nonprofits.

Aside from cash prices, Startup Challenge Monterey Bay gives contestants an opportunity to rub shoulders with potential investors, and county and city officials who are looking for new opportunities for their areas.

California State Monterey Bay’s Institute for Innovation and Economic Development started Start-Up Challenge Monterey Bay in 2009 to help fuel further innovation and expertise for up-and-coming small businesses.

According to startupmontereybay.com is “a competitive acceleration process that teaches, coaches, mentors, networks, and connects entrepreneurs to the knowledge and resources they need.”

Ohana Shaved Ice will compete in the Venture division, vying for a $20,000 first place prize or, $5,000 for the runner-up.

Arti-Culture will compete for a $10,000 first place prize or, $2,500 runner-up price in the Main Street division.

Ohana Shaved Ice finished as a runner-up last year in the Main Street Division last year.

In the Student division, open to high school, college and graduate students, the winner earns $1,500.

The number of contestants has gone down this year, from 90 contestants to 81.

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