Cal Poly

Orfalea College of Business

The Hothouse Heats Up

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship SLO HotHouse Sign

Alumni and supporters mentor student startups over a busy summer at the SLO HotHouse.

For most Cal Poly students, summer is a time to sleep late, take vacations, and enjoy a break between classes. But for the student entrepreneurs in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Accelerator program, summer is when the work really starts.

In June, eight teams took up residence in CIE’s SLO HotHouse on Higuera Street for a 13-week sprint, aiming to make their ventures as viable as possible before the ultimate pitch to investors, business leaders and the community in September. With office space and $10,000 of seed funding in hand, each startup encountered its first tests of concept validation, customer interviews, market research and branding.

SLO HotHouse Accelerator TeamsBut these young, hungry entrepreneurs didn’t go it alone. They benefited from the wisdom and guidance of CIE’s staff and faculty, dedicated lead mentors and more than a dozen other seasoned entrepreneurs who hosted round table discussions, open office hours and one-on-one consultation throughout the summer.

“Mentors are critical to the success of companies that are part of CIE,” said Lori Jordan, CIE director of student innovation programs. “They provide valuable guidance, resources and networking opportunities to help founders move faster and more efficiently as they start and build their business.”

Alumni entrepreneurs and community partners hosted workshops on topics like building company culture, strategic planning and bootstrapping. One of those entrepreneurs was Dustin Yoder (Business Administration, ’08), CEO of Sureify. As the founder of his own startup, he says he wants to help others save time and money building their companies.

“I gave a talk on how relationships will grow the notoriety of your company through direct contacts, LinkedIn, emails and conferences,” he said. “That’s where I could really add value. It was more like a pep rally.”

Cal Poly’s students embraced the frank feedback each mentor and visiting entrepreneur brought to the table. “They were monumental in really showing me that mistakes and failure are inevitable,” said Kiley Becker, business student and co-founder of PCkit. “The failing part isn’t what these speakers emphasized, but rather how you deal with a failure. All of the speakers went about dealing with their failures in an optimistic manner, which was so important to hear.”

“Time is my most valuable resource, but it’s what I want to give now. I’m probably going to be hands on with Cal Poly forever.”

— Dustin Yoder (Business Administration, ‘08), CEO of Sureify

Scroll down for a glance at the HotHouse’s busy summer schedule of volunteers, mentors and supporters who worked with student startups.

Date Mentor Company Cal Poly Graduation
Monday, June 13 JEFF WITOUS CEO of Teqspring Inc. Business Administration, ‘83
Tuesday, June 21 RICK STOLLMEYER Founder and CEOof MINDBODY
Wednesday, June 22 MIKE CANNON President of Cannon Civil Engineering, ‘83
Wednesday, June 29 BILL DOAK Owner of Kirvin Doak Communications Ag Management, ‘89
Thursday, July 7 MIKE EYNON CTO and VP of Engineering at Unitive Computer Science, ‘93
Thursday, July 7 MARC AUSMAN COO of iCracked Industrial Technology, ‘88
Wednesday, July 13 PAUL EDMONDSON CEO and Co-founder of HubPages Business Administration, ‘98
Wednesday, July 13 PAUL EDMONDSON CEO and Co-founder
of HubPages
Business Administration, ‘98
Thursday, July 14 CLINT ORAM Co-founder and CTO
of SugarCRM
Computer Science, ‘96
Tuesday, July 19 DUSTIN YODER CEO of Sureify


Business Administration, ‘08
Wednesday, July 20 RUSS NASH Founder and Managing Partner

at Professional Education Services

Business Administration, ‘82
Tuesday, August 2 HAYES METZGER Founder of Brandcast Inc. Business Administration, ‘07
Wednesday, August 10 JOE O’CONNOR Serial Entrepreneur
Friday, August 12 HUBERT BROMMA Founder and CEO

The Entrust Group

Liberal Arts, ‘67
Tuesday, August 16 DAN HARRELSON Design Director for

Predix at GE

Graphic Communication, ‘98
Wednesday, August 17 JOEL FLORY Co-founder and CEO

of Visual Supply Co.

Industrial Technology, ‘03
Monday, August 29 CHRIS O’REILLY CEO of Globalyceum Electrical Engineering, ‘96

For more information on programs like the Accelerator, Hatchery or Incubator, contact Cory Karpin at Learn about all CIE programs and upcoming events at

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