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A COVID-19 Message from the CIE Executive Director

Dear CIE Family and Friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered uncertainty and complications in the entrepreneur community that you no-doubt have been grappling with over the past few weeks. We know it’s been hard. This medical crisis is unprecedented. But know that despite these stormy and uncharted waters, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is here to champion the entrepreneurial spirit.

While the SLO HotHouse and HotHouse Annex remain closed to protect our CIE community, we continue supporting our students, companies, alumni and coworkers. Instead of our typical in-person events or classes, this spring we plan to virtually host many of our events, programs and resources, and we invite you to join us for as many as possible. We will be sharing news and updates via our social media channels and email newsletters.

If you are a San Luis Obispo County business needing assistance because of unexpected revenue loss resulting from the COVID-19 virus, our Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center can help.

The CIE SBDC can assist in finding numerous funding sources to support your business and employees. The center’s task force is made up of expert business consultants who will guide you through the application process for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program, which is offering low-interest federal disaster aid to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are here to help!

For more details on how the SBDC can help your business, email slosbdc@gmail.com. If you have questions about a specific CIE event or program or if you need additional information, please email us. For ongoing updates related to coronavirus, COVID-19 and its impact on Cal Poly and our community of entrepreneurs, please visit https://coronavirus.calpoly.edu/.

Remember, we are your community. Together, we will weather this global medical maelstrom and when the sun returns emerge stronger than ever.

With warm regards,

John Townsend, CIE executive director, and the CIE team

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7 Tips for Working from Home | COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

Working from home can bring challenges, especially when you’re used to working at a designated office space. Not to mention, being forced to work at home at a moment’s notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic can make it trickier. 

To help our community of entrepreneurs, coworkers, small business owners and everyone in between, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has some helpful tips for those working from home and several resources to help small businesses persevere.

If you utilize these tips, inspire others by posting a picture of your home workspace or how you’re taking advantage of lunch breaks and tagging us on Instagram @ciecalpoly. 

Work-from-home Tips

Set a morning routine

Whether your ideal morning looks like a run through the neighborhood followed by breakfast, or catching up on news while you sip your coffee, make sure you have an enjoyable morning routine to motivate you for the day. With less of the hustle and bustle of getting to work, take a moment for yourself in the morning instead of hopping on the computer right away. 

Designate your workspace

Having a designated workspace is the best way to stay focused and motivated while you work. As enticing as it may sound to switch up your arrangement, like moving your laptop to the couch, it can cause less productivity and much more distraction. Plus, it’s best to keep work as separate from home as possible. Let the couch be your spot for the post-work Netflix binge. 

Business as usual

Work hours are work hours. Working from home doesn’t mean you get to take extra time off, but it also doesn’t mean you should work 12 hours a day. Remember that you can always wrap things up on a project tomorrow and that sometimes you need a fresh take on things the next morning.

Take breaks

A normal workday calls for breaks. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean work is easier, so allow yourself time to destress, call a friend, grab some food or get some fresh air. It’ll be better for your productivity, mind and body. Don’t forget to look away from your screen every once in a while to stay sane and stay healthy.

Communicate

Communication is key in any setting, especially when working from home. Never feel like your weekly webcam meetings are where the office communication has to stop. At a time like this, there is no such a thing as over-communicating about plans or problems. Email and call your coworkers often, and maybe suggest your team uses communication tools like Slack (if they don’t already). Everyone is in this together.

Stay connected

While work-oriented communication is important, so are your usual office conversations. Remember to stay connected with your coworkers about all of the things you usually talk about, like must-see movies, funny stories or how your 10-year-old is begging for an iPhone. The people who make your workday fun might not be a desk over, but they’re just a call or text away.

Take advantage of being home

If working from home isn’t your thing, remember to stay positive and find the perks of your situation. Now that you’re home all day, you can make your breaks more fun by taking the dog for a walk or doing some baking. Not to mention you can put dinner in the oven earlier than 7 p.m. for once and blast music as loud as you want. Despite the challenges of working from home, find a way to make it more enjoyable every day.

 

COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

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Graduated Accelerator Company: Wayve, Inc.

Sierra Scolaro went from working on a senior project while finishing her undergraduate degree to becoming a CEO in one year.

What got her there? The HotHouse Summer Accelerator. 

“When we started at the beginning of the summer, we were just three people with an idea and a really not-so-great prototype,” Scolaro, CEO of Wayve, Inc., said. “Going through the accelerator program with all of the mentorship, the dedicated office space and the $10,000 gift really propelled us forward.”

The Wayve team was able to utilize their $10,000 in startup funding from the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) to prototype and patent their idea of a reusable water bottle that allows for filtered water from any spout.

While the business-development side of the program is what directly helped Wayve grow this idea into a company, she also believes the atmosphere of the HotHouse made the summer even more impactful.

“The best thing about the accelerator has to be the community,” the business entrepreneurship graduate said. “When you’re surrounded by all of that energy and other people working on their passions, it makes you all the more excited to pursue your own.”

Scolaro is grateful that she still has the support and motivation she needs to continue advancing her startup since graduating from the accelerator and joining the CIE’s two-year incubator.

“Now that we’re in the incubator program, it’s definitely not as much hand holding as the accelerator, but it’s not like all the support just disappeared,” she explained. “Working out of the HotHouse Annex, surrounded by other entrepreneurs, really provides an energy to keep the momentum going.”

Scolaro says her team really values the mentors, funding opportunities and network of helpful people they have now, but notes that a lot of these resources were first gained through the HotHouse Accelerator. That alone, she said, is enough of a reason to apply for the program.

Plus, she truly loves that the program allowed her to be an entrepreneur.

“I want to enjoy life and I want to enjoy work and I don’t want there to be a distinct separation between the two,” she said. “If I have the opportunity to create that for other people as well, to employ someone who loves what they do and feels like they’re contributing to an overall larger mission for the world, I would love to.”

So, to anyone considering taking their innovative ideas to the next level and building their business community, Scolaro has just one bit of advice for Cal Poly’s aspiring entrepreneurs.

“The HotHouse Summer Accelerator had to be one of the best summers of my life,” she said. “If you’re on the fence, just do it. There’s nothing to lose.” 

Take the leap, launch your dream business, and spend your summer in San Luis Obispo with the HotHouse Summer Accelerator. Find out more and apply for the program at https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-accelerator/

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Meet a Hatchery Startup | Intego Sports

Whether it’s 7 a.m. or midnight, the Intego Sports team can usually be found in the Hatchery. From Elevator Pitch Competition and Startup Marathon, to now being part of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) on-campus incubator, Intego Sports CEO Alexandra Joelson is on a path to turn her innovative footwear idea into a viable company. 

“The top and bottom of cleats deteriorate at different rates,” she explained. “We are creating cleats with interchangeable soles, so you can just replace the part that wears down instead of buying a whole new pair of cleats.”

Joelson, a first-year business administration major, came to Cal Poly already passionate about solving this problem of quickly-deteriorating athletic footwear.

However, the San Diego native and her team didn’t make this idea come alive overnight. Joelson first took a slightly different idea she had started in high school to the Elevator Pitch Competition, winning the $1,000 prize. She then took her idea to Cal Poly Entrepreneurs’ Startup Marathon, where the all-freshman Intego Sports team was formed.

“There seemed to be a lot of traction for it and people seemed to like the idea, so I got involved in the CIE,” Joelson said of her original idea. “After talking to all of the advisors [in the Hatchery], we came up with a better solution and since me and part of my team play soccer, it was something we were all passionate about. We really want this problem to be solved.”

Joelson stressed how important it is to have a team of people with a common goal but diverse perspectives, even if that poses challenges. 

Intego Sports consists of a business student, aerospace engineer, electrical engineer and a physics major, so their thought processes often differ. However, Joelson says having different minds come together is what helps them progress and grow.

“I think the biggest thing is making sure you’re solving the right problem and then making sure you have the right people to help you do it,” she explained. “As a CEO, I’ve been trying to make sure everyone is motivated and the advisors put us on the right path to get us to the right goals.”

Now that the Intego Sports team has come together and established their place in the Hatchery among several other student startups, what’s in store for them?

First, prototyping at the CIE’s on-campus Innovation Sandbox and filing for a provisional patent. 

Then the team has plans to compete in Innovation Quest to win from $30,000 in cash prizes to help fund their startup, as well as apply for the HotHouse Summer Accelerator. Basically, Joelson and her team are ready to launch their business as soon as possible.

“We’d love to have inventory in our dorm rooms and be running a company out of yakʔitʸutʸu,” she joked. “But we’re all living in the [Cal Poly] Lofts next year as well. We all want to live together and take the company off the ground so we can be college grads with an income. That would be fantastic.”

Until all these future plans come together, though, the team is soaking up every moment in the Hatchery by taking advantage of their access to industry professionals, experienced entrepreneurial advisors and an inspiring community.

“Most people don’t have advice and advisors like this. Either you have to pay someone to do it or do a ton of research to find someone you actually trust, but everyone here truly cares about us and our success,” Joelson explained. “I get to meet a lot of great people and it’s a great place to work and a great environment.” 

Joelson says that anyone with an entrepreneurial aspiration should apply to the Hatchery program because there aren’t any downfalls — just tons of resources and support in a program she dubs “the entrepreneurship hub.”

To stay updated on Intego Sport’s progress, visit https://www.integosports.com/ or find them on Instagram at @integosports. If you’re ready to get after your startup goals and learn more about the program, visit https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Graphic Communicator’s Perspective

When Joe Sobrero came to Cal Poly, he was already determined to be an entrepreneur. As surprising as it may sound, that’s exactly why he chose to study graphic communications with a minor in philosophy.

He didn’t even consider being a business major.

“I think the most important thing that an entrepreneur needs to be is a good communicator,” Sobrero reasoned. “If you’re not a good communicator, you won’t be able to get people on your team, get investments or communicate to your customers why they need your product or service.”

As the co-founder of Ropegun, a mobile application that allows rock climbers to track their progress and compete with friends, he says that his knowledge of communicating, branding and UX/UI design has been invaluable, saving them from having to outsource. Sobrero also noted that his studies of philosophy improved his critical thinking skills, getting him through the endless problems he faces as an entrepreneur. 

After graduating in the spring of 2019, Sobrero and his co-founder Nathan Furbeyre went straight into the HotHouse Accelerator program with their startup idea. Since the program’s end, the pair have kept working with mentors and investors in the two-year HotHouse Incubator.

“To get feedback from advisors who know what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur is absolutely essential and has made a huge difference for me,” he said. “It just gives you confidence when they think you’re doing the right thing because there’s so much uncertainty when you’re an entrepreneur.”

As of January 2020, the team has launched the Ropegun app for iPhones, pushing through their entrepreneurial uncertainty with endless support.

So, what does it really take to get through the tumultuous startup world? According to Sobrero, it requires a lot of passion and risk-taking.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s really hard and it’s high risk,” he explained. “But anyone can do it, if they have the passion and the will to do it. You don’t have to be any certain major.”

While entrepreneurship can be high risk, it can also lead to high rewards, especially if you’re creating something you’re enthusiastic about. When it comes to passion, Sobrero emphasizes that an entrepreneur absolutely needs to love what they’re doing.

“There’s definitely a lot of times as an entrepreneur where you lose a little bit of motivation or you don’t get the validation that you wanted,” he says. “But what keeps me motivated to continue with Ropegun is my obsession with climbing and how much I truly care about the climbing community.”

Want to let your passions run wild? No matter your skill set, the entrepreneurial journey might be for you. Visit https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-accelerator/ to learn how you can turn your interests into a career of your own with our HotHouse Summer Accelerator program.

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The Making of a CIE Donor: Russ Nash

In 1982, Russ Nash graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Business Administration, leaving with the dreams that everyone at the time had: working for a big firm. Nash successfully landed that dream job and began working for a Fortune Top 20 company.

Flash forward a few years, though, and Nash decided to walk away from that company and build his own. In the past 32 years of working for himself, not only has he done so with great enthusiasm, but also with great impact on fellow entrepreneurs at his alma mater.

“I got involved with the CIE from the very beginning. Jon York and Lou Tornatzky had a vision to start the CIE and they got a hold of a friend of mine, Jeff Witous,” Nash said. “He called about 20 of his friends and said ‘Hey, we need to get together and hear these professors out,’ and from that point they basically said ‘If you guys believe in the vision, we need a commitment of time and we need money now.’ So, I got involved in that on day one.”

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was founded 10 years ago, but Nash’s years of experience before that was valuable for his program involvement. 

Nash’s specialty since becoming self-employed is in small businesses, which he had previously done mentoring for on a small-scale basis. He also has a strong passion for public education, specifically for Cal Poly, and had spent time working with his children’s school board. When Nash took on his CIE role, not only was he well-prepared to help student entrepreneurs, he was thrilled to do so.

“My favorite part of working with student entrepreneurs is the level of excitement,” he explained. “They are so fired up and so excited that it’s contagious. It’s just really something special.”

Along with his mentorship and guidance of these young innovators, his support has also come in the form of financial aid.

“Investing in the startups is a combination of a gamble and a passion, and the hope is that at some point in time one or two out of 10 will actually make some money,” Nash said. “But initially, the real goal at this level of [CIE] startups is to help the program go forward.”

Nash notes that had the CIE been around when he was a student, it would have made his self-employment career easier; however, there really wasn’t a market for such a program at the time.

“When I left school, the bottom line was that you had to leave San Luis Obispo because there were no jobs here. You went north or you went south,” Nash explained. “Now there’s enough infrastructure in town to start and grow a large business, and this is a place people dream about living, so it’s a very nice place to do it.”

Luckily, people like Nash helped the CIE grow, allowing countless students to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams through mentorship, access to investors and other entrepreneurs, as well as tangible resources to launch them forward.

Over the past 10 years of Nash’s support, not only has the CIE gained a lot from him, but he, too, has gained a lot from the experience. One thing he learned is the value in giving back.

“I think alumni should follow in my footsteps of supporting Cal Poly in general. They should find their niche in what they can get involved with–and we should give back to the future generation,” Nash prompted. “Getting involved in the CIE just happens to be in my wheelhouse. I enjoy it and others should do that, too, if that’s their expertise.”

That’s the advice Nash has for his fellow Cal Poly alumni, but what is his go-to advice for the students he mentors? It’s to take advantage of the human capital around them.

“What I would say to a young entrepreneur who is just starting to build their company is to look around at all the people throughout the CIE, the older teams and the volunteers who come back, and ask and ask and ask more questions,” Nash said. “Starting a business from scratch is difficult, but that’s okay. You just need to know what you’re getting into.”

If you are ready to get involved with the CIE and make an impact on entrepreneurship and innovation like Nash, consider donating to the program, becoming a mentor or joining our Founder’s Circle today.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Manufacturing Engineer’s Perspective

For many entrepreneurs, knowing how to run a business isn’t what they learn in class. Sometimes entrepreneurs are the ones with the manufacturing ability. That’s the way CEO and co-founder of Armadillo Designs, Sam Hunt, sees it.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been a tinkerer and loved to create things,” Hunt said. “Here at Cal Poly, I was able to learn how to really take that to the next level and turn that into a company or just a product that people could really benefit from.”

Now a third-year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Hunt is studying manufacturing engineering while growing his startup with co-founder Fabian Araujo in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) HotHouse Incubator. While he’s pursuing his degree and his company, he is also working to refine his CEO skills.

“I definitely don’t have a business mindset or business background,” he explained. “I have been working to develop entrepreneurship as a mindset and to understand the business behind what we’re doing, and I’ve been able to do that through the CIE and the Cal Poly programs.”

As the engineer of the company, Hunt wants to make sure he still understands the how-to when it comes to running the business. However, he knows there’s value in the specialized manufacturing knowledge he offers to Armadillo Designs.

“Having a diverse team is definitely something super crucial to growing a company,” he explained. “A lot of times you’re told as an entrepreneur that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.’ The idea there is that you can create whatever you want, but you’ll need a team to do it because you can’t always focus on all sides of a company.”

Building interdisciplinary teams is something that the CIE encourages, always looking for students from any major to join programs such as the on-campus Hatchery program. Like Hunt believes, entrepreneurship is not just for business majors. Instead, entrepreneurship is for the people with the will to make an innovative dream a successful reality.

“What defines an entrepreneur is the ability to get after what you’re interested in and bring an idea to life,” Hunt said. “I think anyone can do that. Everyone has ideas and so really it comes down to you. If you have the drive to get after what you want, then CIE is here to support you.”

Hunt also stresses that there is no negative side to building an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of where you decide to take your skills post-grad. He says that even if his future doesn’t involve working for his own company, he knows he can be of value anywhere by bringing entrepreneurial knowledge and thinking to the job.

Because the entrepreneurial mindset is applicable in all fields of work, anyone can benefit by learning how to think like an entrepreneur. When more people adopt that critical thinking, problem-solving and determined mindset, innovative ideas can begin spurring from a more diverse set of minds.

“The great thing about entrepreneurship is that it’s really open to anybody regardless of their background or major,” Hunt said. “So, if you have a big idea or even a small idea that you’re passionate about getting after, I really encourage it.”

Basically, he, along with the CIE, wants to make sure that anyone with a great idea and motivation to do something big feel supported to go after their dreams.

As Hunt says, “The world has many problems and as an entrepreneur you can be the one who solves them.”

If you are ready to solve a problem with your innovative ideas in an energetic and flexible environment, head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/. Let the CIE help you think like an entrepreneur so you can take your ideas to the next level.

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Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset: An Intrapreneur’s Journey

The entrepreneurial mindset is about a certain way of thinking — it is about the way in which you approach challenges and mistakes. It is about an inherent drive to improve your skill set and to try and try again.  

But why is this important? The entrepreneurial mindset is what you need to propel yourself forward in building a professional career, even if you’re not aiming to become a business owner in the near future. It can help you become more resourceful, flexible and ready to adapt, regardless of what the current situation is like.

For students like fourth-year computer science major Josiah Pang, that’s what taking on Cal Poly’s entrepreneurship minor is all about.

“I knew that coming out of Cal Poly with a degree in computer science would set me up for success technically, but I think there’s a lot of aspects of a job that aren’t covered by pure technical knowledge,” Pang explained. “I kind of view computer science as a square and the [entrepreneurship] minor is what rounds me out into a circle.”

As Pang believes, entrepreneurship isn’t just for the business student looking to create a startup. Rather, studying entrepreneurship can set anyone up for professional success in all fields.

“No matter what role you’re in, you’re going to be interfacing as a component of a larger structure and understanding that larger structure would never put you at a disadvantage,” he said. “It’s good to understand the entrepreneurial mindset because it gives you more context and I think context is what sets you up for even more success in your role.”

When Pang talks about gaining context through the entrepreneurial mindset, he means having the ability to look at the larger, societal picture and utilize that knowledge to innovate for a company in a meaningful way.

His goal with entrepreneurship has been to develop a mindset that makes him a vital asset to the organization he goes on to work for post-grad. By taking courses like design thinking and interdisciplinary senior project for his minor, Pang has gained experience in critical thinking and working with all types of minds.

“It’s interesting to see how through different majors and disciplines, even though we’re all Cal Poly students, the way in which we’ve been trained is very different,” he said of his senior project team. “To have all of these different perspectives and mindsets in the same room working together 100 percent translates into the workplace.”

But can’t you gain this type of knowledge through other areas of study? 

Not necessarily. When it comes to learning the entrepreneurial mindset, there’s a lot that you would miss out on in other fields. Entrepreneurship ties in business, design, risk-taking, management, empathy, leadership skills, failure-understanding and more. Plus, utilizing the mindset to be an intrapreneur doesn’t leave graduates at a corporate roadblock.

“‘Intrapreneur’ is the word I would use to describe myself; someone who has an entrepreneurial mindset within a larger organization and can tie in new ideas and innovate existing features, but not necessarily start something from the ground up,” Pang explained. “But [starting a business] could be something I want to do later, once I have the experience and the resources that you get from a bigger network and a bigger company.”

Whether your plan is to dive headfirst into your fresh business venture or apply to several established companies, having an entrepreneurial mindset can only advance your opportunity-seeking, problem-solving and innovative success.

Head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/ or https://www.cob.calpoly.edu/undergrad/entrepreneurship-minor/ to start cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset now.

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What iQ Can Do for You

Each year, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship holds Innovation Quest (iQ), a competition for students to pitch their product ideas to judges and investors in hopes of winning thousands of dollars in cold hard cash.

Since it is one of the more demanding competitions that the CIE offers, students may fear investing their time and energy only to not win in the end. However, past competitors say the value of Innovation Quest isn’t all in the money, but rather it’s in the process of competing.

Sam Hunt, CEO and co-founder of incubator company Armadillo Designs, knows that there’s still much to be gained even if you don’t take home the prize.

“My co-founder and I pitched our idea in Innovation Quest last spring,” he said. “We actually didn’t end up winning that year, but it was still a super valuable experience because we learned how to really craft a pitch in a short amount of time, how to display our product and how not to display it.”

Each student or team in iQ gets the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas from judge and investor feedback, ultimately gaining them the knowledge needed to perfect their pitches and products to find out what they’re lacking and if their idea could be a viable product.

CEO and co-founder of De Oro Devices, Sidney Collin, came out of the competition with a takeaway similar to Hunt’s.

“Any student that’s thinking about starting their own company should definitely apply to Innovation Quest because it allows you to really think through the business strategy,” Collin said. “Even if you don’t win, it’s a really valuable experience to show what needs to be worked on in the company to be able to pursue it further.”

Although winning is not the only source of value for competitors, ending the process with a check can be a game-changer for many. 

Past iQ winner Chad Kihm, CEO of GamerSpeak, says the competition is the reason he is a CEO today, as winning the $10,000 second place prize gave him the confidence and finances he needed to pursue his startup idea further. While Kihm says he understands that people might question if competing is worth it, he encourages them to at least try.

“I like to tell people who are thinking about Innovation Quest and are trying to decide how much they should really invest in this sort of competition to think about how long it would take them to make $10,000 working at $15 an hour,” Kihm explained. “If you put at least half as much effort as that into winning it, you’ll probably win the money, and much faster, too.”

Another winning innovation, Flume, went from being a senior project to a growing incubator company thanks to their iQ involvement. The company’s CEO and co-founder Eric Adler says that iQ was the first program the founders took Flume into and that winning the competition lead them to the HotHouse Accelerator and Incubator programs. He also said that any startup will have several pivots in their business plan and that iQ allowed the Flume team to move in the right direction early on.

“Any time you go apply for a program like Innovation Quest where you talk to investors or meet with advisors, you’re constantly getting feedback,” he explained. “You have people with a lot of expertise giving you feedback and you can take that to potentially change what you’re doing.”

Between critical feedback, pitch experience, momentum, confidence boosts and  money, Innovation Quest can do a lot for students looking to pursue their startup ideas. Like Kihm believes, time spent competing in Innovation Quest, regardless of outcome, is never wasted and is worth the potential knowledge and money gain.

Adler even sees a big-picture reason for competing in Innovation Quest.

“If you have a passion for trying something on your own, starting your own company, not working for the man,” Adler started. “it’s great to take an idea and see if you’re really making something innovative that can change the world.”

If you have an innovation that could help change the world, let Innovation Quest help change your world through guidance, support and maybe even financial support. Head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/innovation-quest/ for more information on how to get involved.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Architect’s Perspective

Jess Corr is the Chief Operations Officer of Ethic, but she’s better known as “The Architect” within her team. This is the tile she gained by being an architecture major, one area of study that is often overlooked in the startup world. 

“I really love architecture, I’m passionate about real estate and property, and I’m also super passionate about entrepreneurship,” said Corr.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, people tend to assume it’s a career reserved for business or engineering students. What they overlook is the fact that startups need teams of diverse backgrounds in order to find entrepreneurial success. Corr says that she has even learned the most important lessons and tips from entrepreneurs of unexpected majors.

She believes that it’s not what you study that makes you an entrepreneur, but rather it’s about passion, drive and putting your area of study to use in the startup setting.

“Architecture has had a huge role in helping me figure out who I am in regards to entrepreneurship,” she explained. “We do a lot of group projects in architecture, we have a lot of late nights, we’re constantly kind of collaborating with other people. I slowly started to realize what I enjoyed the most was collaborating with others and leading projects.”

Corr recognizes that being an entrepreneur, especially while in college can be challenging. However, she also notes that there are benefits to match the struggles.

“It’s definitely a juggle, being a student and entrepreneur, but I think that’s kind of what makes my day really exciting,” she said. “You’re getting new challenges thrown at you all the time which is exhausting and stressful, but also really fun, and you know that you’re constantly growing into the kind of person that you want to be.”

What surprised her the most, though, is the fact that her entrepreneurial spirit came out almost unexpectedly. Corr says she went on a whim to the 2018 Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Startup Weekend, now known as Startup Marathon, where Ethic co-founder Garret Perkins pitched the idea for a sustainable shopping platform.

“I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I didn’t really know it,” Corr began. “I heard about Ethic and just felt really connected to the vision and the passion that the people involved had for it. When I joined the team, I was like, ‘Whoa, this world’s for me.’”

Since then, the duo has taken their startup through the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Hatchery and HotHouse Accelerator programs. Now, Ethic is a HotHouse Incubator company, officially launched with a running site full of ethical and sustainable-focused products for sale. 

“As being one of the youngest people, one of the only females and being an architecture major having no business background, I definitely felt somewhat intimidated going into it,” Corr said of her entrepreneurship experience. “It was just really nice to have different mentors within the CIE and all of the introductions they made for us, allowing me to have different people to go to when I was unsure about something within our own business.”

Corr sees entering the entrepreneurial world as a valuable experience, even if her pursuits will change in the future.

“I want to be doing something that I love everyday and I know that’s going to involve entrepreneurship in some way, whether it’s in architecture, real estate, Ethic or something completely different,” she said. “If you have a passion for something, you need to put it somewhere and let other people share in that.”

If you have a passion for something innovative, but never thought it was your place to pursue it, find out how you can make your dream business happen through the CIE’s Hatchery program at https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/. Not the right program for you? Contact us and we’ll help you find your best fit for success.

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