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Orfalea College of Business Graduates Debut Start-Ups with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Several teams of Orfalea College of Business graduates showcased their start-up businesses at Demo Day, the culmination of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s HotHouse Summer Accelerator Program.

The Accelerator Program fostered nine teams of Cal Poly students and recent graduates over the past 12 weeks. Each team received $7,500 in seed funding, workspace at the HotHouse location in downtown San Luis Obispo, weekly development workshops, and mentoring from industry partners. Of the nine businesses, four were co-founded by Orfalea College of Business graduates and three others have hired current business students or recent graduates to fill key roles.

At the event, representatives from each venture shared their business models, demonstrated products and discussed future plans before a packed house of CIE faculty, donors, alumni, university leaders and industry mentors.

“I’m truly impressed by the creativity and hard work of our recent graduates who presented here today,” said Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “The quality of presentations and business ventures was on par with any university in the nation. The breadth of majors represented by these promising companies is a testament to the collaborative, creative spirit that CIE carries throughout the entire campus.”

Of the teams, four Orfalea College of Business graduates made formal presentations for the projects they founded in technology, social retail and consumer products.

Justin Farr and Jordan Keplar, two industrial techonology and packaging graduates, presented their corrugated cardboard furniture company called The Cardboard Guys. Their products, including light-yet-strong adult and child-sized desks and chairs, are meant to be sustainable alternatives to cumbersome traditional products. The two say they found the inspiration for this project while watching Cal Poly freshmen move heavy furniture in and out of their dorms each year.

Sander DiAngelis, an entrepreneurship graduate from the Orfalea College of Business, presented on behalf of Moja Outdoors.  He founded the venture along with international relations and liberal arts graduates as he developed the concept in Cal Poly’s CIE Hatchery program on campus. Its first endeavor, Moja Gear, is a community-driven marketplace that connects outdoor enthusiasts with emerging apparel and gear brands. DiAngelis describes the site as “a hybrid between Etsy and eBay, but for the outdoors.”

Josh Hirahara spoke about his company Boost Acquisitions, a venture he founded with fellow industrial technology graduate Scott Santore and a fellow computer science alumnus. Its software automates the used-car acquisition process for dealerships. The web application sources cars from online marketplaces at the best price while saving employees’ time. The team has begun using its software platform with local car dealers interested in growing their inventory.

Orfalea College of Business students and graduates have also assumed key roles with Superior Solutions Manufacturing, Upward Automation, Resound.fm, and Tandemech Engineering, all of which presented at the Demo Day event.

This year marked the fourth anniversary of the Accelerator Program. Each of Cal Poly’s six colleges were represented within the Accelerator teams. These businesses now have the option to become part of Cal Poly CIE’s Incubator Program for an additional two years of support from CIE.

For more information on the Cal Poly CIE, visit http://cie.calpoly.edu/

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