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Category: Get Involved With CIE

Become a CIE Mentor Today

Here at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), we do a lot of work with teams and companies to help get their venture off the ground. This work includes on-campus programming in The Hatchery, the Summer Accelerator and the two-year Incubator. The cornerstone to all of our programs is mentorship.

We have over 140 mentors working with the CIE who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to all of our teams and companies. The CIE mentor program includes entrepreneurs from high tech, venture capital, big retail, niche products and more. From San Luis Obispo, Bay Area, Los Angeles and out of state, we have mentors who provide guidance for multiple business types and help young entrepreneurs build, grow and sustain their businesses.

During the past Summer Accelerator, we had over 30 mentors come through the building to host workshops, meet with teams’ one-on-one and lead round table discussions. In addition to this, each of the eight teams had a Lead Mentor who met with them every week as they set milestones, worked through issues and grew their business.

Our amazing mentors make it possible for the CIE to provide a wide range of resources to teams and companies. We are so grateful for all of the time each mentor has given to the program, and look forward to the future!

If you, or someone you know is interested in mentorship, please fill out an application here.

Why You Need to Try Coworking at the SLO HotHouse

Have you ever heard of the phrase two minds are better than one? This phrase definitely holds its truth when it comes to coworking.

Coworking is about being independently productive around people who share similar values and goals. It’s about learning from and connecting with one another to achieve success. Research has shown that coworking spaces lead to a culture that drives innovation and furthers success of entrepreneurs and business professionals. So, whether you are interested in the synergy of like-minded people or just want a place to work with fast Wi-Fi and your own space, coworking may be a great option for you.

The SLO HotHouse is a community hub with more than 50 individuals and over two-dozen companies working out of the space. Members include professionals in real estate, marketing, law, photography, and development. With affordable 24/7 workspace, no leases, all the office amenities you could ask for and a location in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, the SLO HotHouse is the perfect place to work toward accomplishing your goals.

“Before the SLO HotHouse I was running my business out of my home or in coffee shops,”said Luke Fox, CEO of WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc. and a SLO HotHouse coworker. “Being at home meant constant distractions. Coffee shops were costing me about $100 a month and were loud with limited hours. My business has really taken off since being at the HotHouse. The environment and culture they cultivate is an experience to behold!”

Take your company to the next level and come see for yourself why coworking at the SLO HotHouse would be a great choice for you! Book a tour today or click here for more information.

How to Get Involved in Forums

At once both a foundational and an educational pillar of CIE, the forum series unifies a community and a university around the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Hosted on a bi-monthly basis, CIE Forums explore innovative ideas and up-and-coming startups within an interactive and collaborative environment.

At times, the forum series serves as a host for the Elevator Pitch Competition finals or the introduction of the SLO HotHouse Accelerator companies. At other events, the forum is home to game-show style competitions and club showcases. Regardless of the content, though, CIE Forums provide attendees with a unique perspective into the startup scene on the Central Coast.

Each forum is divided into two sections: the P.E.N. (Pitches, Exhibits, Networking) and the panel.

During the P.E.N., attendees are introduced to the latest innovations on the Central Coast. Through networking, brainstorming or even competing, community members, faculty, and students can discover new connections and new ideas.

Following the P.EN., each forum transitions to the forum panel. Showcasing experts from the startup world, the panel centers its discussion around core issues crucial for success in entrepreneurship. Attendees are also able to submit questions for the panel to discuss, allowing the collaborative environment of the P.E.N. to continue throughout the evening.

From 4:30p.m.-7:30 p.m., the forum series enables freshman students to connect with venture capitalists and local business owners to brainstorm with Cal Poly faculty. While SLO may never possess the resources of Silicon Valley, the forum series offers a vision of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that fosters community alongside innovation.

To register for our free February forum, click here! 

Get Involved With CIE: Innovation Sandbox

One of the few buildings at Cal Poly with a 3D printer, Innovation Sandbox provides students with the space and freedom to create and imagine unlike any other place on campus.

Located in the Bonderson Project Center (building 197, room 205), Innovation Sandbox is stocked with state-of-the-art equipment and technology: from the Oculus Rift to the Leap Motion to 3D printers. The space serves to both inspire and engage with students at all stages of ideas.

For students with a workable idea, Innovations Sandbox provides the tools and collaborative workspace to help develop and build an idea into something real.

Similarly, for students looking to expand their technological fluency, Innovation Sandbox operates as a hands-on classroom where students across all majors learn and interact together, exploring the potential of frontline innovation.

Mantis Composites, a 2015 SLO HotHouse Accelerator company, found their origins in Innovation Sandbox—imagining the possibilities of carbon fiber 3D printing.

“David and I came to Innovation Sandbox with a crazy idea to build a printer that could print carbon fiber,” said Ryan Dunn, co-founder of Mantis Composites. “Innovation Sandbox provided us the environment and resources to build our idea into not only a real device, but also a business.”

Whether you’ve discovered the future of virtual reality or you’re just curious how to code, Innovation Sandbox holds tools for inspiration and a Learn by Doing experience unmatched on campus.

For more information, go to: theinnovationsandbox.com

Get Involved With CIE: Innovation Quest (iQ)

It may be as simple as free pizza. That’s all it took for Cal Poly graduate Ian Alexander to stop by an Innovation Quest (iQ) info session. Ten weeks later he had $15,000 in his bank account and a team of investors who believed in his business plan.

Innovation Quest was founded to fund student innovation at Cal Poly, enabling students with big ideas to help build their companies. The annual competition takes place over the Winter and Spring Quarters at Cal Poly and features a $15,000 grand prize for the winning team. Based in the college setting, the competition is designed for young innovators who lack access to serious funding.

So, how does it work?

iQ is unique among our business competitions. Instead of a pitch in front of a large crowd, students complete an application detailing their company, their goals and their needs. After this initial application process, a team of judges narrows the field and selects a number of companies to pitch to a panel of entrepreneurial experts. From there, a winner is chosen and several other awards totaling $20,000 are handed out as well.

For many of our most successful startups, iQ served as the crucial first step towards launching a successful business.

“[iQ] can take you from a college student with an idea to actually starting a business,” said Alexander.

The first iQ info session will take place later this quarter. Be sure to stop by, even if you just want free pizza—because who knows, that pizza might win you $15,000.

For more info, check out our video from last year.

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To stay updated, like the Innovation Quest Facebook page.

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