We are proud to announce that our newest program, Startup Mendocino, is now open.

Startup Mendocino is a series of intense Business Bootcamp trainings culminating in a live pitch showcase gala event for Mendocino County entrepreneurs.

This exciting competition is the first of its kind in Mendocino County. It is designed to discover new and creative business opportunities and business ideas here in our local community. We’re looking for people who seek new ways to solve old problems, people with energy and passion, people who want to build new products and design services that enhance the community they love.

All applicants who are chosen to participate receive our Business Bootcamp training – a series of workshops that get businesses ready to pitch with a polished Powerpoint and verbal presentation. We give the participants expert training from instructors in finance, marketing and branding and teach them how to pitch their idea — all in preparation for a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize, $5,000 second prize, $2,500 third prize as well as other prizes.

The idea of Startup Mendocino came from a discussion between Mary Anne Petrillo and Jeff Parker in 2017 on their radio show, Mendocino Works, about program called the Angel Challenge in a rural part of Norway.) Read more about that here.

Petrillo notes, “Our county is filled with creative and talented people and businesses of all kinds. Understanding how to talk about your idea is crucial for the success of any business. We wanted to give our local entrepreneurs the skills to do this – and an opportunity to compete for prizes that would spur their development.â€

Our sponsors feel the same. John and Sandra Mayfield donated the grand prize of $10,000 through their fund at The John and Sandra Mayfield Economic Development Fund at The Community Foundation of Mendocino County. John Mayfield notes the importance of supporting entrepreneurial risk-taking, “”Over the years, I have started, sold, and been involved in many small businesses from retail lumber, to agriculture technology in Mendocino County. Our whole family is an entrepreneurial bunch.  We wanted to get involved with Startup Mendocino to help entrepreneurs to get started and encouraging people to take that risk and take the plunge. You’ll fail sometimes, but you will win more than you will lose. Supporting that entrepreneurial and risk-taking spirit is an important task for all of us and we look forward to seeing the entrepreneurs who compete in Startup Mendocino.”

Scott Yandell, CEO and President, Savings Bank of Mendocino County shares his view of economic success in the County and how it benefits quality of life for all, “Startup Mendocino is an innovative program that holds the promise of stimulating both current and long term economic growth that will provide broad benefits to the quality of life in the area.  This project is consistent with the Bank’s 115-year mission of helping local entrepreneurs and businesses succeed. We are very excited to be a part of this effort.â€

Jason Wells, president of Adventist Health Howard Memorial and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, agrees. “We’re proud to be part of this innovative program as it ties in with our commitment to improving the health and well-being of our community. Studies have shown that health is determined in part by access to social and economic opportunities. We are thrilled to help make Mendocino County a healthier, thriving place to live.â€

President of Mendocino College, Arturo Reyes talks about how these connections support our County,  “We are pleased to sponsor Startup Mendocino in partnership with West Business Development Center. Mendocino College embraces its role as an intellectual, economic, and cultural anchor for the region and is committed to graduating students who are workforce ready and prepared to attain living wages. We are thrilled to be part of this innovative initiative that will foster social mobility and fuel our regional economies.â€

Jennifer Owen, Chief Financial Officer of North Coast Brewery, adds “North Coast Brewery is very pleased to be a part of the inaugural Start-Up Mendocino event. We are no longer a small business, but the entrepreneurial spirit and characteristics of innovation, independence and resilience have always been and are still central to North Coast Brewing Company’s work. Let the competition begin!â€

Jennifer Bosma, Vice President of Harvest Market also support this view, “At Harvest Market we believe our local economy thrives when local entrepreneurs are able to successfully start a new and unique business within our county.  We support many local businesses throughout the county and sell many local products in our stores.  We look forward to continuing to help new local businesses in our county.â€

How it works:

Fill out an application online by going to: https://www.westcenter.org/startup-mendo/

Business Selection May 13 – June 10

12 businesses will be selected. Those twelve will attend our West Business Development Center Business Bootcamp.

Business Bootcamp June 24 – July 22

A series of three, four-hour workshops taking place through June to July. The Business Bootcamp will have sessions on marketing, finances, vision and most importantly, how to pitch your business idea to anyone.

Semi-finalist Round August 4

In early August, these 12 businesses will pitch their ideas to a live panel of judges and five will be selected to go on to the final round.

Finalist Round and Live Public Event August 25

3-6 pm, Open to the Public

At a gala event on August 25th at Mendocino College Theater, the five finalists will pitch their business before a live audience who will vote on who wins the cash prizes.

Who is eligible to apply:

Anyone who has a business or business idea in Mendocino County, is looking to hone their business skills and compete for cash prizes.

All the FAQ’s right here. And FAQ’s in Spanish, right here.

Startup Mendocino is open to all residents of Mendocino County.

Click here to get started.

We are extremely grateful to our anchor sponsors, without whom which Startup Mendocino would have never become a reality. Their vision and passion for what they do inspires us everyday.

Startup Mendocino is also supported by the Small Business Administration and California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business & Economic Development.

Startup Mendocino is a Business Bootcamp and Pitch Competition designed to spark new thinking about what is possible in Mendocino County through entrepreneurship. Startup Mendocino is sponsored by the West Business Development Center, America’s SBDC, The John and Sandra Mayfield Economic Development Fund at the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, Adventist Hospital, Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Economic Development and Financing Corporation, Mendocino College, North Coast Brewery, Harvest Market, The John Pack and Linda Francis Family Fund at the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, Ukiah Chambers of Commerce, Mendocino Coast Chambers of Commerce, Willits Chambers of Commerce, The Coast – KOZT, and the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity.