Campus News

SBCC's Scheinfeld Center Announces Student Winners of its 5th Annual New Venture Challenge

May 5, 2015

Santa Barbara City College’s Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation announced student winners of the 5th Annual New Venture Challenge pitch competition held Friday, May 1 at the Fé Bland Forum on SBCC’s West Campus.

The $5,000 collegiate grand prize went to SBCC student John Harmon, for his eco-friendly non-toxic beach tar remover. He formulated his winning product, Oil Slick,™ after tiring of removing tar from his feet with harsh chemicals after surfing. John launched Oil Slick™ in the Scheinfeld Center's popular Enterprise Launch™ program last fall and currently sells his product online and in six stores. Students in the Enterprise Launch™ program develop a product or service in a single semester, and the program consistently produces winners of the New Venture Challenge. Last year’s winner, Doni Nahmias, has gone on to launch his own clothing line, Fortune Designs™, which he currently sells in six local stores after only one year in development.  Doni was also a finalist in this year’s New Venture Challenge.   

The second-place collegiate award ($3,000) went to the SBCC team of Spencer Shulem and Lincoln Liechti. Their winning product, Onus Retail TM is a software application designed for small retail business managers that combines employee communication functionality with a task management system to ultimately increase employee productivity. The mission of their business, Onus Technologies,TM is to create simple products that make people productive. The third-place collegiate award ($2,000) went to SBCC student Dan Stroud for his collapsible diving fins. Dan's business, Wyvern,TM  creates and sells innovative high-quality diving equipment.

In a standing-room-only event, the presenters were polished and ready. “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," said Julie Samson, Scheinfeld Center Director. The collegiate judges were a formidable team including Lynda Weinman (, Kathy Odell (NutraHealth Partners), and Susan Block (business merger and acquisition consultant). 

At the high school level, first place went to Santa Barbara High School student Mackenzie Fell presenting Fell Design,TM a student-run graphic design, marketing, and social media management business; second place went to Lompoc High School student Sarahy Guzman for SGC Gluten-Free Bakery;TM and third went to Lompoc High School student Kadie Pulliam for The Blue Puzzle Project, which designs and sells T-shirts with unique designs to spread awareness and raise funds for special needs education and assistance related to autism. Honorable Mention went to the Finding Common Ground TM  team from Santa Barbara High School (Madalyn Mender, Julia Danalevich, Victor Valdadez and Elizabeth Ramirez) for their international social enterprise venture. The high school panel of judges brought extensive industry experience with startup ventures: Michael Holliday (Synergy Business & Technology Center), Dan Colbert (Colbert Venture Consulting), and David Goldmuntz (business equity and finance expert).

The winners receive their awards at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner on May 8 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.  The awards banquet serves as a fundraiser for next year’s awards, and the attendance of the student winners and their guests are generously sponsored by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation. 

The Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge is a two-tiered pitch competition honoring the business concepts of local college and high school students.  $15,000 in cash awards for the collegiate winners is generously supported by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation and Montecito Bank & Trust.  The Bank of Santa Barbara has sponsored a $25,000 rolling scholarship fund for the high school winners. 

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

For more information please visit the Scheinfeld Center website at


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