Orfalea College of Business alumni made a big impact on the fourth annual TechPitch event on October 22, hosted by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the Economic Vitality Corporation and Softec. The event brought together six early-stage technology startups from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties to pitch to a panel of angel investors for a $5,000 prize.
The Cardboard Guys, founded and run by three business alumni, pitched their product line of inexpensive, recyclable corrugated cardboard furniture for kids and college students. Justin Farr (Industrial Technology ’14), Jordan Keplar (Industrial Technology ’14) and Jake Disraeli (Entrepreneurship ’13) shared their plans for a crowd-sourcing campaign to propel production forward.
Tyler Dycus, recent Orfalea College of Business graduate and co-founder of Tandemech Engineering, supported Tandemech’s presentation of its wall-scaling robot. Tandemech and The Cardboard Guys were both part of CIE’s HotHouse Accelerator program during the summer of 2014. The ventures are now involved with CIE’s Incubator program to help sustain key growth and secure funding.
The winning team from the pitch competition was Superior Solutions Manufacturing, who presented the removable lift gate for pickup trucks, called the LiftGator. Superior Solutions Manufacturing swept both the judge’s award and the audience choice award. Their cash prize also comes with professional consulting services to aid the business’ launch.
S. Brett Whitaker (Business Administration ’86), who owns Whitaker Construction, donated the cash prize for the pitch competition and served on the panel of judges. Fellow judges included Jo Anne Miller, co-founder of SLO Seed Ventures; Paul Meyer, managing partner of TechCXO; Laura Pickering, partner of Innovation Quest; Rick Stollmeyer, co-founder and CEO of MINDBODY Inc.; and Helio Fialho, founder of LeftLane Sports and CEO of Auspient Inc.
Douglas Hutcheson, former CEO of Leap Wireless, was the evening’s keynote speaker. He discussed how he founded Cricket Wireless to pioneer unlimited wireless calling in the 1990s. His business was acquired by AT&T in March 2014.
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