I hope all our alumni had the chance to experience adventure and renewal this summer. The Orfalea College of Business is proud of the contributions you are making to society and grateful for the many ways you support our mission.
As some of you know, I lost my wife, Bridget, in a bicycling accident in July. The support of the Cal Poly community has meant so much to me and my family during this tough time. In November, I will return to Portland to pursue new professional endeavors and to be closer to my family.
However, you will not see a pause in the momentum during the year as the college searches for a new dean. We have a highly capable leadership team in place that will be pursuing initiatives in the college’s 2016-17 annual plan.
Expect to see a continuation of engagement outside the college through Executives in Residence, alumni events, and student tours. We will also welcome ten new members to the Dean’s Advisory Council meeting in October and start them on an ambitious agenda that includes planning for an outstanding alumni event in the Bay Area in fall 2017.
The momentum of the college’s career readiness initiative is continuing in numerous directions. Amy Carter, formerly Director of Student Services, will bring her significant leadership capabilities to her new role as Assistant Dean for Student Success. One of Amy’s projects this year is enlisting young alumni to provide career mentoring for students and implementing new software to improve resume quality. We are thrilled to welcome Alyssa Graudins, a Cal Poly alumna, as our new employer relations specialist. Alyssa brings significant experience, including working for the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, to a role that will expand and improve relationships with employers who need the expertise of Orfalea graduates.
I leave Cal Poly with a heavy heart. Working with Orfalea’s faculty, and truly amazing students and alumni the last few years has been an honor and deeply fulfilling. I hope the alumni community continues its support of the Orfalea College of Business and its vision of taking Learn by Doing to new heights.
I wish you all the very best.
Economics Professor Eduardo Zambrano has proposed a reformulation of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Centre.
The index aims to measure and analyze the origins of inequalities in 110 countries, including formal and informal laws, social norms, and practices that restrict or exclude women. According to research, social institutions, when discriminatory, limit progress on gender equality on education, employment, levels of poverty and marginalization, and participation in the political sphere.
The SIGI aggregates information regarding gender inequalities in the following five broad categories: discriminatory family code (including rules around early marriage and inheritance), restricted physical integrity (including violence against women or genital mutilation), son bias, restricted resources and assets (including secure access to land and financial services), and restricted civil liberties (including access to public space and a political voice). Zambrano aims to adjust the substitutability between indicators and how each variable is weighted within the index to better reflect progress made in these core variables.
Zambrano presented his findings to the OECD in Paris in early September.
He has worked on similar international index efforts on behalf of the United Nations’ programs on development and the environment. Zambrano has also been recognized as one of Orfalea’s outstanding professors. In 2015, he was named a Jacobsen Faculty Fellow and was honored with the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Eight startups founded by Cal Poly students and recent grads pitched to a packed house at Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entreprenurship’s Demo Day on Friday, Sept. 9. The event marked the conclusion of CIE’s Summer Accelerator, where each team received seed funding, intensive mentoring from leading entrepreneurs and innovators, and work space in the SLO HotHouse for 13 weeks.
The entrepreneurs networked with a crowd of more than 300 community members, Cal Poly supporters and potential investors at the Performing Arts Center. Orfalea College of Business students and alumni were part of six of the eight companies presenting.
Finance senior Matt Maxwell and his team developed a scalable electric bike rental company aiming to revolutionize transportation in college towns and in busy urban areas. The company empowers commuters to choose a more sustainable way to get around by offering high-quality bikes, maintenance, and month-to-month rental options.
Biomedical engineering major Griffin Paul and mechanical engineering grad Ricky Riedl engineered sturdy, adaptable parts that enable a variety of bicycles to carry significant loads. The new rack design is designed to lower the center of gravity of a bicycle’s front wheel to carry cargo safely.
Finance major Maxwell Fong and industrial technology and packaging senior Elan Timmons teamed up to create a smartphone case with a built-in stun gun used for self defense. The product’s integrated app also dispatches police to the scene of the incident, notifies emergency contacts, and starts recording video to help identify and apprehend an assailant.
Ashley Tovar, a liberal studies senior, and Naomi Faud, a graphic communications sophomore, established an all-in-one website where brides and event planners can book space and vendors directly. Their vision is to create a marketplace that allows homeowners, landowners, and businesses to list their properties and event services.
Entrepreneurship student Lucas Toohey and computer engineering student Jacob Copus helped create unique technology that allows multiple streaming of 2D content in a 3D environment. Its interactive features and functions take advantage of booming virtual reality technology.
Entrepreneurship senior Kiley Becker, computer engineering senior Nicholas Verhage and industrial engineering junior Michael Wong are behind PCkit, a cost-efficient gaming computer kit that customers could build themselves. The kits would be adaptable to specific games and would come complete with all tools, parts, and instructions necessary.
Business students Gannon Daynes, Sonya Bengali and Kendall Melton teamed up with mechanical engineer Jared Becker to create the Vibro hydration backpack that vibrates bass frequencies from the music played at live music festivals. The company looks to tap into the growing market of electronic dance music (EDM) festivals around the world.
Entrepreneurship alumna Kaitlyn Henry and mechanical engineering junior Adrian Eaton presented their sustainable drip irrigation technology that helps the agricultural community save water and grow more consistent crops. The team targeted the Central Coast’s grape growing industry, and plans to expand to other crops and regions.
CIE’s Accelerator program is one of many ways Cal Poly students can explore their own business idea or innovate a new product or service. Throughout the year, it also offers pitch competitions, hackathons, industry tours, and community forums. The CIE also offers an on-campus Hatchery for young startus, and an Incubator program for more mature ventures looking for co-working space in a thriving entrepreneurial environment in Downtown San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit www.cie.calpoly.edu.
Finance senior Hannah Poplack was selected this past May as a “Nominated Changemaker” out of thousands of nominees to attend the first-ever United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House in Washington, D.C in June.
The Summit, convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls, and hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, aimed to celebrate the strides made in gender equity. The summit focused on six pillar topics, ranging from economic empowerment and violence against women to entrepreneurship and innovation and leadership and civic engagement. Hundreds of government leaders, celebrities, and executives came together to participate in breakout sessions and listen to speeches from leaders like President Obama, Vice President Biden, Amy Poehler, Cecile Richards, Warren Buffet, Gloria Steinem, and Nancy Pelosi.
“In many ways, the Summit felt like a celebration of how far women have come — especially given that the Summit convened only a week after Hillary Clinton became the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States,” said Poplack. “However, what I really enjoyed, was how the Summit focused on how far we need to go. The speakers focused on a wide range of issues that still profoundly impact women today- from rape culture to the wage gap to the absence of opportunities for women worldwide. It was incredibly inspiring to hear from the leaders heading these initiatives- and seeing real action, like the signing of the White House’s Equal Pay Pledge at the Summit.”
“I left the Summit profoundly inspired to continue creating change for young women, and empowered with a new level of understanding about the issues impacting women today.”
Hannah co-founded Cal Poly’s Women in Business Association, which has become the model for collegiate professional organizations for women nationwide, and provides programming that benefits hundreds young women each year. Hannah is a five-time United States Presidential Service Award Winner (Gold Level), a United States Jefferson Award Recipient, the most recently, the recipient of the 2016 Cal Poly Panhellenic Women of the Year Award.
Dylan Brodsky has checked quite a few things off his bucket list for a second year student in the Orfalea College of Business. In just the past year, he’s experienced the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program, landed his first capital investment, and, most recently, debuted his product at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
He owes the wild ride to a device called Spritely, a smart alarm clock and sleep analytics system developed as a senior project at Cal Poly. With its smart sensor that communicates via Bluetooth with your smartphone, Spritely can detect when you are in and out of bed. The catch? Once your alarm goes off, it won’t stop until you get out — and stay out — of bed.
Brodsky was part of a team that was accepted into the CIE’s 2015 Summer Accelerator program, where he and CTO Fred Wilby worked for three months to refine the technology and lay out a business plan. They were able to raise a small amount of seed funding from investors, but knew they needed something more to get the company off the ground and help their new product go viral in the swelling health and wellness technology space.
Now leading the team as Spritely’s CEO, Dylan Brodsky set his sights on attending the much-lauded CES event, one of the world’s largest technology trade shows held once a year in Las Vegas. The annual gathering has been a hotbed of tech product splashes from major players like Apple and Samsung, but small scale startups have been known to make their mark on the trade show floor. With this opportunity at hand, Brodsky went into full planning mode, beefing up his team with nearly a dozen fellow students specialized in marketing, UX (user experience), product development and entrepreneurship.
Thanks to some planning help from Mary O’Brian, a CIE advisor, and travel funding from the Orfalea College of Business, the team made their way to the show in early January. Brodsky says the experience was a lot to take in at first, from the paid models hocking other products at CES to his entire team bonding in one hotel suite. With an intense itinerary of appointments, the team had the chance to present a Spritely prototype to the consumer electronics world and network with innovators and retailers from around the globe. Brodsky found he was making fast progress with online and brick-and-mortar outfits interested in one day carrying Spritely.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Brodsky. “It was like Learn by Talking. I realized that in-person marketing has a huge impact.” While there, Spritely earned mentions in major media outlets like NBC, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, CNET, Silicon Angel, and CRN. The mentions are helpful, and they’re igniting buzz — Brodsky says — for its first litmus test with consumers.
The trade show was the launch pad for Spritely’s crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. They’ve set a goal of raising $100,0000 in order to commission the product’s first manufacturing run. Brodsky says getting this initial funding is a crucial next step in bringing Spritely to a larger market.
“All guns are around the campaign now,” said Brodsky. “Once we get the funding, it’s on product development, getting orders filled, manufacturing them, and shipping them. Hopefully simultaneously capitalizing on all the relationships we made with retailers at CES.”
Looking ahead, Brodsky and his team hope to return to CES next year and start selling market-ready Spritely devices to the larger retail community. To his fellow students looking for entrepreneurial advice, Brodsky says his major takeaway from CES wasn’t just true at the convention, it was true for the entire startup process:
“Plan everything out. And always expect the unexpected.”