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 CIE’s SLO HotHouse Incubator Program Graduates Six Startup Companies


SLO HotHouseSix companies with more than two dozen employees and $1.8 million in venture capital have completed the SLO HotHouse Incubator program, a Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) program devoted to taking businesses from startup to sustainable.

“CIE provides a structured, two-year program for early-stage startups that includes all the resources needed to facilitate smarter, faster growth,” said CIE Incubator Director Judy Mahan. “After working closely with these companies over the course of their development, we are excited to see where the future takes them as they continue to expand and grow locally.”

The companies graduating from the CIE SLO HotHouse Incubator program include:

– App Scrolls, an online community platform that increases player engagement and retention for any game;

– Bottlefly, a firm that uses flavor chemistry and data science to help retailers increase wine sales and margins and reach their target demographic;

– Brandplug, software that helps marketers buy high quality, high return-on-investment promotion from social media celebrities;

– Calwise Spirits Co., which produces rum and gin that is handcrafted on the Central Coast with the fruits and herbs that define West Coast life;

– Flume, which puts household water usage in users’ hands with an innovative IoT sensor, which protects homes from water damage, conserves water, and avoida costly water bills with Flume’s technology; and

– Reduce. Reuse. Grow, which aims to replace unsustainable packaging products with smarter, more eco-friendly solutions that also restore local communities’ native landscapes.

“The SLO HotHouse Incubator program helped us launch our company and gave us the tools we needed to create a sustainable business,” said Alex Henige, co-founder and CEO of Reduce. Reuse. Grow. “The resources, mentorships and connections made through this program have allowed us to grow to where we are today.”

Since its inception in 2010, the CIE has promoted regional economic development. To date, these six companies have created 27 jobs, benefitted from 644 hours of one-on-one consultations and raised $1,836,000 in capital. All six companies will remain in San Luis Obispo County.

The CIE recently added five community startups to the SLO HotHouse Incubator program. They will join five other ventures that are in their second year of the 24-month incubator program and five in their first year of the program, making a total of 15 startups currently incubating at the SLO HotHouse.

CIE offers faculty, students and community members the tools to transform their innovative ideas into viable businesses. By providing quality coaching, professional consulting and connections with industry professionals, the CIE creates an environment in which new businesses can develop and thrive.

“As we progress towards the future, startups play a critical role not only in the growth of our economy but also in discovering solutions to solve real-world problems,” said CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson. “We are proud to drive entrepreneurship forward, and we are committed to building an environment that will help nurture innovative ideas and facilitate success.

For more information on the CIE programs, visit cie.calpoly.edu.

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.