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

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

Cal Poly Adds Seven Startups to SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator Program

Cal Poly CIE Accelerator Teams 2017Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has accepted seven startup companies into this year’s SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program.

The intense 13-week program is designed for students and recent graduates who have developed new ventures and want help making them succeed.

The program provides $10,000 in seed money, hands-on strategic business guidance from faculty and mentors, and dedicated office space during the summer at the SLO HotHouse. Companies receive training, introductions to investors and resources to help move their ventures forward. At the culmination of the program, they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors during Demo Day.

The ventures represent a variety of concepts, including health foods, innovative footwear, sustainable building materials and smart solutions for San Luis Obispo house renters.

“Our accelerators are tackling the startup world head on,” said Lori Jordan, director of student innovation programs, who oversees the program. “We are giving them the tools they need to grow their company, and we are excited to see where their venture takes them and how they make an impact locally, nationally and throughout the world.”

Applicants representing disciplines from across campus competed for a place in the seventh annual accelerator program. Thirteen finalists presented their ideas to a panel of judges who chose the final seven companies.

“This program encourages risk takers, innovators and dreamers to pursue their passion,” said the CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson. “The accelerators are encouraged to think without limits. Through creativity, guidance, ambition and grit, these startups will grow to become pillars of the economy and supporters of our community.”

This year’s accelerator companies are:

Atsá Foods LLC is an innovative food company that is turning Native American superfoods into everyday nutritious snacks and returning value to the Navajo Nation Reservation. It was conceived by Rafael Pintor, agricultural business; Peter Haverkamp, food science; Neal Gorris, industrial technology and packaging; and Sam Baber, art and design.

Bluezone uses augmented reality, gamification and big data to inspire discovery and connection between users. It was developed by Brett, and Jimmy Kang, business administration.

DTE Materials manufactures hemp-based, high-performance, non-toxic and sustainable building insulation material. Created by Tanner Jolly, materials engineering, and Jose Urizar, civil engineering.

LocalzOwn is building a platform that its founders say is the smartest and easiest way to source and sell local artisan food products. It was started by Joseph Lyman, biomedical engineering; Michael Fekadu, computer engineering; and Leonel S. Farias, agricultural education.

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. It was designed by Haley Pavone, business administration, and Tyler Unbehand, industrial technology and packaging.

PolyRents has created technology that simplifies the housing rental process for landlords and their prospective tenants. It was created by Cameron Wiese, psychology, and Alexander Kavanaugh, software engineering.

Yellow Glass Media creates and curates socially relevant and unbiased media content to inspire viewers to listen, learn and empathize. It was conceived by Nesrine Majzoub, sociology, and Daniel Hornett, civil engineering.

The SLO HotHouse is a community space created through the efforts of Cal Poly, the city and county of San Luis Obispo, the business community and the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The goal of the SLO HotHouse is to support students and community members as they work to create new innovations and start business ventures. For more information, visit

The CIE opens a world of entrepreneurial opportunity to Cal Poly students, faculty and community members, and promotes entrepreneurial activity and dialogue across the university and throughout San Luis Obispo County. For more information, go to

Front row (from left): Rafael Pintor, Sam Baber, Peter Haverkamp , Michael Fekadu,  Haley Pavone, Tyler Unbehand and Nesrine Majzoub. Back row (from left): Neal Gorris, Jimmy Kang, Brett Foreman, Leonel Farias, Joseph Lyman, Cameron Wiese, Alexander Kavanaugh and Jose Urizar. Not pictured: Tanner Jolly and Daniel Hornett.

New SLO HotHouse Offers Community Coworking Space in Downtown San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly CIE SLO HotHouse

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) — which is providing workplace solutions for freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs — has space for new members at its new SLO HotHouse location in the heart of downtown.

Business professionals looking for a welcoming coworking space to set up shop with other business-minded members, a place to launch the next big idea or American dream, or a convenient place to meet with clients, now have affordable solutions.

The CIE SLO HotHouse offers its members a comfortable work environment with fast Internet, 24/7 access, educational and social events plus business consulting at an all-inclusive price. Members also have access to meeting rooms, high-quality printers and a full kitchen with premium coffee.

With more than 15,000 square feet of space, the SLO HotHouse offers flexible short- and long-term memberships and an open area for coworking, along with a private phone booth, a lounge, three conference rooms, private offices, dedicated desk spaces and event space.

“As hotel brokers, the HotHouse has provided us with an energetic and progressive environment for building our business,” said Aaron Graves, principal of California Hotel Brokers and a SLO HotHouse coworker. “We are able to collaborate with other companies involved in technology, tourism and sustainability all under one roof. The input from other cutting-edge entrepreneurs helps to challenge us and forces California Hotel Brokers to become the best in the industry.”

The SLO HotHouse is a community hub with more than 50 individuals and more than two-dozen companies working out of the space. Members include experts in real estate, marketing, law, photography, and development.

“The SLO HotHouse was created for the community,” said CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson. “San Luis Obispo is full of talented entrepreneurs and visionaries, and the SLO HotHouse provides a collaborative environment. Our coworking space is a melting pot of creativity that generates a level of synergy that results from the proximity and collaboration of like-minded people. New relationships are developed. Ideas are challenged. Problems are solved.”

The SLO HotHouse is at 872 Higuera St. in downtown San Luis Obispo. For more information, go to