Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business Celebrates Alumni with Inaugural Spotlight Awards


Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business hosted the inaugural Spotlight Alumni Awards in San Francisco on Saturday, January 20. More than 200 alumni, faculty and students gathered to network and celebrate the success of business graduates.

The event included remarks from Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson about the future of business education and how the network of more than 28,000 alumni can shape opportunities for students.

The event established the Spotlight Awards, given by the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council. The honor is given to alumni who have achieved inspiring career success through ethical leadership, innovation and philanthropic work. Alumni submitted nominations to the committee, which selected two winners.

The Green Spotlight Award went to Jessie Becker (Business Administration, ‘11), who co-founded medical device company InPress Technologies. Becker worked as the first Innovation Coordinator at Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship when she helped found InPress Technologies, which manufactures a patented device that stops post-partum hemorrhage in new mothers without medication or surgery. The company has completed first in woman trials in Indonesia and is currently enrolling in their pivotal study in the United States and Uganda.

The Gold Spotlight Award was given to Gary Erickson (Business Administration, ‘80), founder, co-owner and co-chief visionary officer of Clif Bar & Company. Erickson and his wife, Kit Crawford, transformed a small bakery into one of the biggest, privately-held food brands in the world through an expanding line of energy bars, organic foods and drinks. The company now employs more than 1,000 employees across locations in Emeryville, Calif. and Twin Falls, ID. In addition to emphasizing organic ingredients and carbon-neutral power for its facilities, Clif Bar consistently ranks as one of the best places to work.

“Celebrating the success of alumni like Jessie and Gary is the ultimate validation of our mission,” said Dean Dawson, “and is a shot of adrenaline for all of the Orfalea College of Business community.”

Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships for Orfalea International Business Tours sponsored by the college. The 10-day excursions provide international experience to students who many not be able to study abroad. During the event, business senior Brittany Oliveira of San Jose also shared highlights from tours where she learned from business leaders and cultural experiences in China, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Cal Poly Center Places Second for National Entrepreneurship Award


The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was named runner up for the 2018 National Model Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program award offered by the nation’s largest organization of teachers, scholars and practitioners in entrepreneurship.

The winners were announced Jan. 14 during the annual conference of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Los Angeles. Syracuse University took the top honor.

“This is a prestigious honor for our program,” said Jonathan York, CIE interim executive director and co-founder. “This recognition indicates that we are at the leading edge in our comprehensive approach to entrepreneurship education, and it is very gratifying for our efforts to be validated by our peers.”

USASBE, with more than 1,000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations and the public sector, is the largest independent, professional, academic organization dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship.

The Model Program award is given annually to a university entrepreneurship program that offers high-quality innovative programs to educate and develop future generations of entrepreneurs. Programs are evaluated on innovation, quality, comprehensiveness, sustainability, transferability, depth of support and impact.

Past award winners include San Diego State University, Baylor University, the University of Tampa, Wake Forest University, Oklahoma State University and Ball State to name a few.

Cal Poly Center Named Finalist for National Entrepreneurship Award


The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is one of two finalists for the 2018 United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) National Model Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program award.

The winner of the award will be announced during USASBE’s annual conference on Jan. 14 in Los Angeles. The other national model finalist is the University of Syracuse.

“Regardless of what happens, this is a prestigious honor for our program,” said Jonathan York, CIE interim executive director and co-founder. “This recognition indicates that we are at the leading edge in our comprehensive approach to entrepreneurship education, and it is very gratifying for our efforts to be validated by our peers.”

USASBE is the nation’s largest organization of teachers, scholars and practitioners in entrepreneurship.

USASBE’s Model Program award is given annually to a university entrepreneurship program that has developed and offers high-quality innovative programs to educate and develop future generations of entrepreneurs. Programs are evaluated on innovation, quality, comprehensiveness, sustainability, transferability, depth of support and impact.

Past winners for the USASBE National Model Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program award have included San Diego State University, Baylor University, the University of Tampa, Wake Forest, Oklahoma State University and Ball State.

Cal Poly CIE Welcomes Three New Faculty Fellows


Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has named three professors to its Faculty Fellows program: construction management professor Phil Barlow, industrial technology & packaging professor Ahmed Deif, and marketing professor Stern Neill join the multidisciplinary cohort in preparing students to become emerging entrepreneurial leaders.

These three new CIE Faculty Fellows become part of an interdisciplinary community that is committed to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. CIE Faculty Fellows raise awareness of CIE programs and provide guidance to students and faculty with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Deif’s project drives innovation in the rapidly evolving and increasingly entrepreneurial value chain space and opens up opportunities for the formation of startups. Dr. Barlow will focus on fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration to spur innovations that impact the built environment. Dr. Neill will focus on curricular and co-curricular innovation to bring customer discovery and creation skills to Cal Poly startups, which will enhance their chances for survival and success.

The 2017-2018 class of CIE Faculty Fellows joins fellows David Askay, communication studies; Graham Doig, aerospace engineering; Enrica Costello, art and design; Bob Crockett, biomedical engineering; Dale Dolan, Electrical Engineering; Lorraine Donegan, graphic communication; Charmaine Farber, graphic communication; Mary Glick, journalism; Brian Granger, physics; David Janzen, computer science; Lynn Metcalf, marketing; Clare Olsen, architecture; Christiane Schroeter, agribusiness; Lynne Slivovsky, computer engineering; Taryn Stanko, management & human resources; and Umut Toker, architecture.

Cal Poly to Host Demo Day for Startups on Sept. 8


The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) hosts its annual Demo Day on Friday, Sept. 8, at the Performing Arts Center on campus.

The event culminates CIE’s 2017 SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program — an intense 13-week program that helps students and recent graduates who have developed new products and ventures. Representatives of the six participating companies will give demonstrations, pitches and answer questions about their entrepreneurial efforts.

“It is truly incredible to watch the accelerator’s progress from start to finish,” said Tod Nelson, CIE executive director. “This unique program pushes them and encourages them to grow fast, and to grow smart. Demo Day is when we get to see how all this hard work is paying off.”

The summer accelerator program provides $10,000 in seed money to each company, hands-on strategic business guidance from Cal Poly faculty and mentors as well as dedicated office space at SLO HotHouse. The entrepreneurs receive training, introductions to investors and unlimited resources to help move their startup forward.

The CIE Accelerators constantly worked and pivoted throughout the program, and the startups are seeing this pay off.

“The SLO HotHouse Accelerator program has exceeded our expectations,” said Haley Pavone, CEO and founder of Pashion Footwear. “The program and resources at the CIE have allowed us to accomplish way more than we would have on our own. What I’ve learned here and the connections I’ve made are priceless.”

This year’s accelerator companies include a variety of industries and disciplines, making it a unique cohort. They include:

— Atsá Foods LLC is an innovative food company that integrates Native American superfoods into everyday nutritious snacks while positively impacting Native American communities where key ingredients are sourced. www.atsafoods.com

— DTE Materials manufactures hemp-based, high-performance, non-toxic and sustainable building insulation material. www.dtematerials.com

— LocalsOwn is a virtual farmstand offering local farmers’ market products online. It provides consumers with a way to see what the best local farms and food artisans have to offer with just a few clicks of the mouse.

— Pashion Footwear has designed an adaptable shoe that can easily convert from a pump into a flat that is an innovative and pain-free approach to women’s footwear. www.pashionfootwear.com

— PolyRents simplifies the housing rental process for landlords and their prospective tenants. www.polyrents.com

— The Lens is a global media brand that captures a familiar world through authentic perspectives. “We connect you to human stories on global affairs, race, and culture and empower you to take action on the issues you care about most,” the company says. www.yellowglassmedia.com

Demo Day is sponsored by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Professional Corporation.  The Sept. 8 event is free and open to the public; advance registration is required. For more information and to register, go to 2017demoday.eventbrite.com.