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.
Entrepreneurship senior Gannon Daynes is finishing his career at Cal Poly on a strong note, despite encountering several challenges along the way.
When Daynes first arrived at Cal Poly, he was ranked top 50 in the nation for men’s tennis in his age group; however, despite his successes after 15 years of playing tennis, he struggled to adjust to the dynamic of college athletics.
“I struggled to connect with my peers during my first two years of college due to the diminished confidence that I had in myself — it felt like I had lost my identity for a period of time there,” said Daynes. “Prior to college I perceived myself as an elite student and athlete, but during those first two years I felt like I had lost many attributes that were special to me, I was truly lost.”
At the end of his sophomore year, Daynes knew he had to make a change and resign from his tennis career.
“This was an extremely emotional decision for me,” said Daynes. “I came to the conclusion that I had to take ownership of my life and realized that tennis was a driving negative factor of my happiness.”
After leaving the tennis team, Daynes’ life turned around completely. Throughout his junior year, he began to regain his confidence both socially and academically. He began to set — and achieve — goals he had never before thought were possible.
After his junior year, Daynes had the opportunity to intern for Gothic Landscape Inc. – the largest privately owned commercial landscape company in North America. His work that summer gave him the drive to not only succeed academically but to set out to leave a lasting impression on Cal Poly during his last year here.
Now, in his senior year, Daynes is thriving. He has made Dean’s list both quarters this year — a goal he has always struggled to achieve — and is actively involved in the marketing mentors program.
The Marketing Mentor Program is a new program at Cal Poly that pairs elite students with freshman and sophomore marketing students to help advise and guide them through the development of a marketing plan. Daynes is currently the only entrepreneurship student who is a mentor in the program, but that hasn’t held him back; this past year he spent months writing the training manual that will be used for years to come.
“I attribute all of my success to finally taking charge of my life and making decisions that made me happy and fulfilled instead of focusing on others,” Daynes said. “Although that may sound selfish, I believe that if you are not happy and confident with yourself you will never be able to help anyone else.”
After graduation, Daynes will be participating in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Summer Accelerator Program to further develop his startup Sectrvm. Spectrvm is a wearable bass shaker geared toward committed Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fans that will improve the communal and immersive experience of EDM music festivals.
Daynes’ final note the he would like to leave for all readers is, “I hope everyone who reads my spotlight will take away that it does not matter where you start, but where you finish. I am a living representation of that and I am only getting started.”