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.

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

— 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.

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

— 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.

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

Student Startups Pitch at Cal Poly CIE’s Demo Day

CIE Demo Day 2016Eight 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.

Matt Maxwell of BoltAbout presents during Demo DayBoltAbout
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.

Burro Components
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.

Kiley Becker of PCkit presents at Demo Day.PCkit
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

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,, 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