Sonoma-USA, maker of bags, luggage and other fashion accessories from used promotional banners, beat a dozen other local startups to be crowned the North Bay’s Top Innovator.
The Santa Rosa-based company was among 13 startups competing for up to $10,000 in prizes at the eighth annual North Bay Innovation Summit, held at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park on Sept. 16.
Sonoma-USA helps local businesses divert some waste from landfills to a second life as a consumer product, supporting the local economy, according to Steffen Kuehr, founder and CEO.
“… we get to grow our local workforce and work with unique materials that come with a unique story,” he said. Customers “receive one-of-a-kind, locally made products.”
Each company team had three minutes to present their product or service, followed by five minutes of questions from experts in four categories. The judges selected a winner from each category, and each winner had one minute to stump for Top Innovator, and its $7,000 grand prize.
Startups were represented in four categories: Food & Ag; Web, SaaS, Web, IoT, Cloud and Social Media; Healthcare and Med Tech; and Clean Tech. After the one-minute pitches, the audience voted with their “Innovator Bucks” for their favorite startups. Green-Go cactus water, PhotoBloomAR augmented reality gifts and Tueo Health each won their respective categories and took home $1,000 each. Sonoma-USA won the Clean Tech category.
2016 North Bay Innovation Summit winners
Food & Ag: Green-Go cactus water
Web, SaaS, Web, IoT, Cloud and Social Media: PhotoBloomAR augmented-reality gifts
Healthcare and Med Tech: Tueo Health
Clean Tech: Sonoma-USA