Hatchery Spotlight: GamRewired

Two and a half million U.S. adults are considered severe gambling addicts, and another 5-8 million are considered moderate gamblers, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. 

Problem gambling, also referred to as “gambling addiction” or “gambling disorder” is a compulsive behavior that prevents victims from being able to control their urge to gamble despite negative consequences on finances, relationships and overall well-being. 

Meet Austin Hatfield and Diana Koralski, two young entrepreneurs from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) actively working to decrease the above statistics with their startup, GamRewired.

GamRewired aims to help gambling addicts replace their addictions with healthy habits through cognitive behavioral therapy. It will also act as a tool for those who regularly attend therapy and want to see progress in the days between sessions. 

Hatfield, CEO and co-founder of GamRewired, found the current solutions for gambling addiction such as therapy to be insufficient. These solutions and recovery processes are best described as a yo-yo effect in which addicts experience highs during therapy sessions and lows in between sessions, Hatfield explained. 

“With GamRewired, you get to keep making strides and replace your addiction, which is the part I fell in love with,” said Hatfield. 

The idea for GamRewired originated from Hatfield’s interest in the field of psychology. He felt that options like therapy aren’t adequately meeting the needs of addicts and wanted to create something that enhances the effects of psychology to fully eliminate the inconsistent yo-yo effect. 

Hatfield met his co-founder and CTO Koralski, soon-to-be computer science and business administration graduate from Cal Poly, through the Hatchery. The Hatchery is an on-campus startup incubator that provides student entrepreneurs with the resources to launch a business idea. 

Koralski was looking for entrepreneurial opportunities through the Hatchery and was quickly introduced to Hatfield. Their partnership blossomed by leveraging their different, yet complimentary, skill sets, she said. 

The Hatchery helped develop GamRewired in two crucial ways: connecting Hatfield and Koralski as business partners and providing a third-party perspective, he said.

Both Hatfield and Koralski credit the Hatchery for connecting them with other like-minded entrepreneurs and peers navigating a startup journey for the first time as well. 

“When you’re working like 12, 14 hours a day, it feels like you’re missing out on the college experience. It feels like you’re missing out on life a lot of the time; but when you have someone else literally right next to you doing that, or even someone from another team doing that, it makes you feel like you’re not crazy in that sense, and it feels like you actually have a community,” said Hatfield. 

Koralski encourages other students to get involved with the Hatchery because of the direction it gave her when facing the uncertainty attached to college, graduating and career pursuits.

 “The Hatchery has provided a lot of guidance. I had an idea that I wanted to be a part of a tech startup or something like that, but I didn’t really know where to get started. The Hatchery has a really well-structured program with mentors who give feedback and open up a lot more opportunities,” Koralski said. 

GamRewired participated in Innovation Quest (iQ) and received the second-place award of $10,000. iQ is a high-stakes competition where Cal Poly students pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges in the hopes of winning funding for their startups. 

“Winning iQ gave us the confidence that we are moving in the right direction. We got a lot of great feedback,” Koralski said. “It was really affirming of our idea and obviously, now we have some funding so we can start making the product come to life.” 

GamRewired has several goals in the near future, including participating in the  Summer Accelerator, an intensive 12-week program that provides Cal Poly students and recent graduates with the resources necessary to turn their innovative ideas into full-fledged startups. 

Hatfield and Koralski look forward to working with great mentors, building their team and gaining expertise in the fields of AI and cognitive behavioral therapy by working with in-field professionals through the Summer Accelerator, they said.

On a long-term scale, GamRewired hopes to combat more than just gambling addiction. A few years down the line, they aim to enter the field of therapy on a broader scale and expand from gambling addiction into other co-addictions.

Hatfield calls for a need to revolutionize the field of psychology, and believes GamRewired is “just the platform to do that.”

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Hatchery Spotlight: Anemo AI

In a world where innovation is the key to progress, Anemo AI emerges as a beacon of hope for researchers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field. 

Anemo AI is accelerating the research process for STEM researchers, specifically for Computer Science (CS) statistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). They plan to conduct Research and Development (R&D) focused on AI which helps increase the rate of innovation. R&D enables professionals to push the boundaries of possibilities and accelerate advancements in the field. 

The idea for the startup originated during Ameer Arsala’s, co-founder and computer science junior, co-led research project. While conducting AI research, Arsala encountered numerous obstacles that slowed down their research process. For the first month, they performed a literature review when the research goal is to begin experimentation as quickly as possible, Arsala explained. They wanted to speed up the process. 

Ishan Meher, co-founder and computer science sophomore, met Amira through a Cal Poly Computer Science club where he was co-leading a different project. Miguel Flora, co-founder and computer science freshman, also participated in the same clubs. After casually talking about the idea for Anemo AI and recognizing their compatibility, they collectively decided to bring their idea to fruition. 

Last fall, Meher participated in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Startup Launch Weekend, a 52 hour-long event where innovators create interdisciplinary teams and develop a business over the weekend. From there, Ishanna learned about more CIE programs, including the CIE Hatchery. Since the co-founders developed a plan and mission for their company, they thought it would be beneficial to join the Hatchery and receive help, Ishanna said.  

The CIE Hatchery is an on-campus startup incubator open to all Cal Poly students interested in learning how to take a business from an idea to launch. Student entrepreneurs are provided with resources like mentorship, coaching and weekly workshops. 

“As a non-business major, the Hatchery helped us get a second opinion on our approaches and our strategy,” Meher said. “As Computer Science majors, we are pretty dead set on the technical side of things and it’s good to have an outside view on how to run a business.” 

As student entrepreneurs, these cofounders value the Hatchery’s role in providing a safe space to fail, Arsala said. Failure is a part of the learning process and they appreciate the environment the Hatchery fosters for that purpose. They believe their opportunity to experiment and test themselves will help in the future to deliver when it truly matters, Arsala explained. 

Looking ahead, the co-founders want to use Animo AI as a tool for their own research. They hope to use their product to accelerate their research and STEM research as a whole. 

In the near future, the cofounders hope to join the CIE Summer Accelerator program and iteratively approve their product. The Summer Accelerator is a 12-week program that provides participants the funding, hands-on mentorship and resources to build a business. 

The co-founders of Anemo AI are excited to grow their business and grow as individuals with the contribution of CIE resources. 

“The Hatchery provides a space to be around like-minded entrepreneurs and it motivates you to work on your own business,” Meher said. “I get really inspired and riled up when I see a bunch of people working on their product or company. It inspires me to take our product to the next level.” 


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The 2023 Summer Accelerator Cohort: Where are They Now?

It’s been more than six months since the 2023 Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Summer Accelerator came to an end. During the Accelerator, Cal Poly students and recent graduates spent 12 weeks immersed in the startup process, turning their startup ideas into real, viable businesses. 

The program culminated at Demo Day, where the participating teams showcased the progress they made on their startups throughout the summer and pitched their companies. 

Since Demo Day, the 2023 Summer Accelerator cohort has embarked on new professional, educational and entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of what the cohort has been up to: 

Ecoternatives | ENTEIN | Horizen Technologies | Mí Tiara | Nexstera Tech | Social Spark | TensorMaker | Té Piña



Aiden Riehl, founder and CEO of Ecoternatives.

Aiden Riehl, founder and CEO of Ecoternatives, joined the Summer Accelerator after working on his company from his room for the previous two-and-a-half years. 

“The Accelerator was the first time where I met other people my age doing the same thing as me and where I felt normal in terms of entrepreneurial desires,” Riehl explained. “Although it lasted a summer, I think it impacts you for the rest of your life.” 

Ecoternatives is an online marketplace that sells sustainable and plastic-free products at more affordable prices. 

Since the Summer Accelerator, Riehl traveled for five months spanning from Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. 

Reflecting on his pre-Accelerator state, Riehl acknowledged feeling disorganized without procedures in place to improve his operations. During the Accelerator, he learned how to create these. 

“With the help of the Accelerator, I was able to streamline a lot of the tedious tasks by building systems into my company,” Riehl said. 

Amidst Riehl’s travels, he remained dedicated to advancing Ecoternatives. He introduced new processes for future employers, collaborated with content creators to bolster Ecoternatives and built out a marketing strategy. 

Riehl finally completed one of his biggest goals: automating tasks onto people he trusts, he said. With his new operations, he could finally hire two employees who in turn allowed for Riehl’s travel. 

In response to high customer demand, Riehl’s team is working on an Ecoternatives app for iPhones. Furthermore, Ecoternatives is creating a Build-a-Box subscription feature enabling customers to curate product bundles on a subscription basis. 

Lastly, Ecoternatives expanded to 15 more eco-friendly products. 

“With the Accelerator, I started thinking about my business long-term,” Riehl said. “ It made Ecoternatives into a real company with normal business practices and something I wouldn’t be embarrassed talking to investors and professionals about.” 


William Burns, founder of ENTEIN, and Cameron Yartz, former co-founder of ENTEIN (from left to right).

William Burns, a mechanical engineering major, began his CIE journey when he pitched his startup ENTEIN at Innovation Quest (iQ) 2023 and won the Environmental Impact Award. 

ENTEIN is utilizing food waste to grow insects as an affordable animal feed protein supplement. 

Feeling motivated by his success at iQ and eager to lift his startup off the ground, Burns joined the Summer Accelerator. For the summer, Cameron Yartz, a mechanical engineering major, also joined the project. 

“The Summer Accelerator allowed us to move forward in ways we would not have been able to alone,” Burns said. 

With the help of the Summer Accelerator, ENTEIN was able to monetize different aspects of their business, increasing investor interest, Burns explained. 

Burns attributed much of their success to the networking opportunities over the summer. 

“The connections I made through the Summer Accelerator were priceless. I could not have started a company if I didn’t have our lead mentor and the CIE staff helping with different aspects of Entein,” Burns said. “The people made it happen.”  

Thinking back to Burns’ first pitch versus pitch at Demo Day, he said he grew a lot. The Summer Accelerator helped him better communicate about ENTEIN and relate their startup to various types of audience members, especially those not familiar with agriculture, he said. 

Since completing the Accelerator, Yartz is now working on a different project with an interdisciplinary team to create a Prosthetic Aid for Lifting (PAL) so Madeline Everson, born with ulna and radius in her left hand, can continue lifting in the gym. 

“This project is definitely out of our comfort zone, but we are motivated to succeed,” Yartz said. 

Burns has continued to put full effort into ENTEIN while a full-time student. He is running testing on their product from multiple waste sources and has expanded in their greenhouse. 

ENTEIN also doubled in growth capacity and is sending more samples to third-party suppliers to build production in the Sacramento and Fresno areas.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have a full summer to follow my passion and work on ENTEIN,” Burns explained. “The Accelerator prepared me to run my business and gave me the tools and confidence I now use every single day.” 

Horizen Technologies

Owen Work and Camden Ford, co-founders of Horizen Technologies (from left to right).

Owen Works and Camden Ford, co-founders of Horizen Technologies (formerly known as Horizen Biotech and DrinkWise), went into the Summer Accelerator viewing their startup as a college assignment. However, during the summer, their perspective underwent a significant shift. 

“Throughout the Summer Accelerator, Horizen Technologies changed from being an academic project into becoming a real business,” Ford said.  

Horizen Technologies aims to create a drinking culture that prioritizes safety, health and well-being through their biosensor platform which monitors Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels.

Ford, a biomedical engineering graduate, initially hesitated to ask questions because of his limited entrepreneurial knowledge, he explained. However, he soon realized that everyone in the Accelerator was learning and he gradually became comfortable asking questions, failing, and ultimately gaining more, he said.

Following the Summer Accelerator, Horizen Technologies joined the CIE Incubator program. The Incubator is a two-year program providing early-stage companies the resources to develop into financially stable and high-growth companies. 

“Getting into the Incubator was a huge accomplishment,” Ford said. “It’s guiding us in the right direction of how to operate, helping us raise funds and explore the customer we want while giving us a place to headquarter at.” 

Since last summer, Works has been working on the company full-time while Ford is finishing his Master’s of Science (MS) in Biomedical Engineering at Cal Poly, dedicating his capstone project towards their product development. 

Both have led various undergraduate student teams within the Orfalea College of Business and College of Engineering. 

Recently, Horizen Technologies qualified as one of the top six finalists for AngelCon, an event where six qualified tech startups pitch their business for a chance to win $100,000+ in equity funding. 

As the co-founders prepare for AngelCon, they have been seeking fundraising options and have completed several grant programs.

Horizen Technologies was chosen for the VentureWell Spring 2024 E-Team program. Out of the twenty-five teams, they advanced with seven others to the second stage where they received a $20,000 grant to build their business further. 

The co-founders are grateful to the Accelerator for providing them with resources and connections who help mentor and teach them how to run their business, they said. 

“We are relatively young and we’ve never started a business before, so we rely on knowledge from mentors who have done this before,” Ford said. “The Accelerator gave us great connections with people who want to help us and has made us not afraid to do what it takes to accomplish our goals.” 

Buy your ticket for AngelCon and support Horizen Technologies on Thursday, May 2nd at 5:00 p.m. at Rod and Hammer Rock:

Mí Tiara

Luis Guzman, co-founder of Mí Tíara.

Computer science senior Luiz Guzman remembered the challenge of pitching his startup due to his “significant stage fright and public speaking issues,” he said. 

However, after advice from mentors, he realized how important it is to pitch his startup or else it would simply not exist. This mindset helped him push through his nerves and eventually, during Demo Day, Guzman found the experience “exhilarating.” 

Guzman and computer science senior Maricela Carillo co-founded Mí Tiara (formerly known as PlanForMí), a startup that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify the event-planning process by easily connecting local vendors and customers. 

Looking back on Demo Day, Guzman felt a significant achievement and immense satisfaction from completing the program, he said. 

“Representing my Hispanic community and showcasing diversity in the program added to my sense of pride and accomplishment,” Guzman explained. “It reinforced the importance of diverse perspectives in entrepreneurial endeavors and highlighted the value of inclusion and representation in the startup ecosystem.” 

Following the Accelerator, Guzman and Carillo focused on the Accelerator’s feedback to refine their platform. This included enhancing their product features, expanding their vendor network and deepening their engagement with the Hispanic community, Guzman said. 

Looking forward, Mí Tiara plans for a successful launch in Fresno County and plans on expanding into other regions with significant Hispanic populations. 

As the co-founders continue running Mí Tiara, they credit the Accelerator for deeply ingraining the principles necessary to run a successful business, Guzman explained.  

“The Summer Accelerator was a catalyst for growth, pushing me out of my comfort zone and enabling me to lead with confidence,” Guzman said. “The experience of pitching, networking, and strategizing under the Accelerator’s guidance was invaluable, laying a solid foundation for Mi Tiara’s journey beyond the program.”

Nexstera Tech  

Penny Lane Case, co-founder and CEO of Nexstera Tech.

Penny Lane Case, co-founder and CEO of Nexstera Tech, remembers her excitement when pitching her startup on Demo Day. She felt pre-pitch nerves but was also confident in what her team accomplished over the summer, she said. 

Nexstera Tech is pushing the boundaries of material differentiation and detection through AI-enhanced radar technology and transforming waste management operations. Their initial focus is identifying lithium-ion batteries in curbside buns before collection, aiming to mitigate the billion-dollar risk of battery-induced fires in the waste stream. 

Case reflected on her experience: “My confidence, my technical knowledge and the way I was able to compose my thoughts definitely changed throughout the Accelerator and that translated to my more powerful presence on stage,” she said. 

Case and her co-founders Stefany James and Kylene Landenberger have accomplished some big milestones since the Accelerator. 

Nexstera Tech expanded its data collection operation by renting out a space to house their two labs and hiring three testing technicians. At these labs, they are collecting thousands of scans every week and sometimes over one thousand in one day, Case explained. 

Furthermore, Nexstera Tech retrofit their first prototype on a Waste Connections Recycling vehicle at their San Luis Obispo Facility in December of 2023. They placed it on the oldest truck with the most challenging route to ensure their hardware could withstand the harshest conditions. 

Alongside installing their product, Nexstera Tech joined the CIE Incubator and recently qualified as an AngelCon finalist with five other companies.

AngelCon is an event where six qualified tech startups pitch their business for a chance to win $100,000+ in equity funding. 

“Getting into AngelCon was very reassuring.” Case said. “I love talking about what we do because I have immense confidence in our team and solution coupled with a deep passion for addressing this problem.” 

Case attributes much of her success in learning how to run her company to the support from her advisors and the Summer Accelerator experience, she explained. 

“The Accelerator truly made it possible for us to launch our company. It’s an incredible program full of resources, including valuable workshops and mentorship opportunities, that accelerate personal, business, and technical growth. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given as a member of the 2023 cohort.” Case said.

Buy your ticket for AngelCon and support Nexstera Tech on Thursday, May 2nd at 5:00 p.m. at Rod and Hammer Rock:

Social Spark 

Samantha Moberly, founder and CEO of Social Spark.

Samantha Moberly, the founder and CEO of Social Spark, expressed gratitude towards the Summer Accelerator for its role in nurturing her startup. She credited the program for transforming her startup from a class project into the beginning of a real business, she said.

Social Spark is a social networking platform aimed to combat loneliness by helping recent graduates and early-in-career individuals create new friendships through in-person events and outings. 

“We started out thinking we already had the start of a business. But, the more we talked to advisors and learned the different components needed for a business, the more we were able to really build a foundation for something that could actually turn into a real company,” Moberly said. 

During the Accelerator, Moberly realized how important it is to work around people when taking on big endeavors like building a startup. One of her favorite parts of the program was working with mentors — who she still frequently speaks to — and other startups to help build ideas, she explained. 

“When you get to spend the whole summer talking to amazing people who have created fantastic businesses and they engage with you like a peer, it really grows your confidence knowing you can actually speak with people like that,” Moberly said.  

After Demo Day, Moberly felt more solidified in Social Spark and confident to answer any questions presented to her. 

Since the accelerator, Social Spark hosted more successful events in the Bay Area, trying out different kinds including single-evening events, single-day events, and day-and-a-half events. She also developed a Social Spark membership where their algorithm matches members based on similarities, forming smaller groups for casual outings. 

Social Spark has been receiving positive customer reviews and customers who return to multiple events. 

Moberly appreciated the Summer Accelerator for providing her tools to operate Social Spark. 

“It took some adjustment ending the Summer Accelerator and no longer having a structured environment every day with check-ins each week. But that’s the important part of the process — moving forward and having the tools to run your startup without as much guidance,” she said. 

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have a full summer to follow my passion and work on ENTEIN,” Burns explained. “The Accelerator prepared me to run my business and gave me the tools and confidence I now use every single day.” 


Avi Peltz, former founder of TensorMaker.

Following the Summer Accelerator, Avi Peltz, former founder of TensorMaker, moved to the San Francisco Bay. 

TensorMaker was a platform that made building machine learning applications fast, easy and accessible to everyday developers.  

Since living in San Francisco, Peltz reconnected with co-founder of BioGlyph and first-place winner of Innovation Quest 2023, McClain Kressman. Avi Peltz is now working full-time as CTO at BioGlyph. 

BioGlyph streamlines the process of biologic, or medicine, development and iteration — as well as user modification tools — allowing researchers to easily shift between visual, markup and serial representations of medications developed from living organisms. 

Té Piña 

Benjamin Arts and Matt Reis, co-founders of Té Piña (from left to right).

Business administration seniors Mathew Reis and Benjamin Arts were excited to join the 2023 Summer Accelerator to leverage its resources and grow their startup Té Piña, a pineapple-based beverage that provides consumers with a healthier alternative to energy drinks. 

“During the Summer Accelerator, you’re able to get mentorship, money, support and connections to really accelerate your business,” Arts said. “You grind out the work and can see your business progress every single day,” Arts said.   

Arts and Reis attributed both their company growth and business understanding to the mentorship they received during the program.

“I went into my last quarter of school after the Summer Accelerator with more proficiency and efficiency in my classes,” Reis said. “I was able to be more responsible and business-oriented.” 

Following the Summer Accelerator, Arts and Reis have continued their work on Té Piña while delving deeper into the startup world. 

Since January, Reis has been working for Quickie Delivery Co, a startup delivering convenience store essentials to college students quickly, affordably and sustainably. 

“Because of the mentorship and expertise I gained in the Accelerator, Quickie Delivery Co, a past Summer Accelerator team, saw my potential and decided to bring me on to run their finances and do their books,” Reis explained. 

Similarly to Reis, Arts also became involved in another startup. He co-founded Mr. Turtle Laundry, a refillable laundry detergent machine placed in grocery stores and laundromats. 

With Mr. Turtle Laundry, he won first place at the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Startup Marathon, a 54-hour-long event where innovators create interdisciplinary teams and develop a business over the weekend. 

“Without my experience around Té Piña, I would have been lost in this project,” Arts said. 

For Té Piña’s future plans, the co-founders intend to make the most of their current resources, putting aside further developments until they have the necessary funds. 

Reis and Arts believe Té Piña is a promising venture, enjoy running the company, and are eager to dedicate more time on it in the future, they said. 

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Abstract: decrypting the past to encrypt the future of cybersecurity

Leaving the corridors of Google behind in February 2023, Colby DeRodeff made a bold move into the startup world with Abstract, a cybersecurity platform aimed at empowering enterprises to detect and thwart breaches. 

Transitioning from the comfort of a tech giant to startup co-founder and CEO, DeRodeff’s commitment to safeguarding businesses from cyber adversity underscores his dedication to innovation and security in an ever-evolving landscape. 

After working generally in the cybersecurity space for 11 years and acquiring valuable knowledge in the field, DeRodeff wanted to start his own company focused primarily on cybersecurity.

“This problem space is near and dear to my heart,” DeRodeff said. “I think there’s better ways to do cybersecurity these days than has been done in the past, and so I figured I’d give it a shot.”

Abstract boasts a team of 15 professionals spread across the globe. DeRodeff focuses primarily on technical aspects, while Ryan Clough, co-founder and chief product officer, oversees product development and engineering. They have an international go-to-market worker in London, another in Dubai for the Middle East and three team members in Colombia, handling development. The remainder of the team is based in the U.S. spread across New York, Atlanta, Texas, the Bay Area and San Luis Obispo.

“I think the reason customers tend to look to us is because we’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve seen a lot of the mistakes that have been made in the past,” DeRodeff said. “A lot of the newer companies that don’t have that experience are repeating some of the mistakes that we made back in 2005/2006, so we’re trying to take all those lessons learned and roll that into the cybersecurity platform that customers are looking for that’s going to leapfrog the current solutions that are out there now.”

Joining the CIE Incubator program in 2023, through the virtual track, has been invaluable to Abstract, DeRodeff said.

The CIE Incubator helps develop early-stage startups into financially secure and scalable enterprises. Entrepreneurs in the program are provided with mentorship, funding opportunities and other resources to develop their business. 

 “The sense of community and seeing the struggles other people are having also helps a lot with your own mental state as you’re doing this, because it’s pretty crazy and a lot of pressure,” DeRodeff said. “Being able to get out of the house and get into an open environment with lots of founders who are doing different things is super motivating.”

The program has connected Abstract with a diverse range of professionals who have played a pivotal role in guiding the startup through the intricacies of the landscape.

“Our lead mentor Jeff Erramouspe is great to work with. I think of our relationship as an accountability check,” DeRodeff said. “We’re running fast, and he reminds us to hold on, take a step back, and see if we actually did the things we knew we were supposed to do. It’s also a relationship where we collaborate on different ideas like go to market, sales and financials.”

Unlike many of the interactions in business, DeRodeff said he was pleasantly surprised and grateful with the CIEs staffs’ genuine willingness to assist without any hidden agendas. 

DeRodeff recounted an instance when he used the wrong template for employment offers, causing issues with state laws. Unsure how to fix it, he turned to Judy Mahan, Cal Poly CIE Senior Economic Development Director, who promptly connected him with someone to revise the offer, ensuring compliance with California law and other state regulations. Notably, there were no hidden fees involved; DeRodeff explained how their sole intention was to provide genuine help—a rarity in his experience, he said, where most interactions come with ulterior motives.

When asked “what’s next for Abstract?” DeRodeff quickly replied “Well, a lot.”

Abstract has reached their minimum viable product (MVP) stage in their product design and are working on installing it with their design partners.

“It’s an interesting and tough process. We’re taking software that’s been developed in our labs and tested on our own systems, and now we’re trying to convince an enterprise customer to go install it into their environment. We can plan and plan, but when it gets to that day, there are things that happen that we couldn’t have planned for, so you have to readjust and go back to the drawing table.”

The startup is also planning the launch of the company and the general availability (GA) of their software in April. As the company keeps progressing and hitting new milestones, DeRodeff said it’s important to “celebrate the little victories” to maintain morale and momentum.

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Getting to know Karen Tillman

Meet Karen Tillman, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s newest employee as the Interim Executive Director. Tillman formerly worked as Chief Communications Officer at Oracle, Cisco, GoDaddy and Brex and brings more than 25 years of experience from the tech world. Growing up in San Luis Obispo and traveling through work, Tillman has found her way back to her community. 

Tillman recently sat down with us and discussed her passions and excitement for her new role: 

Q: You’ve had some big roles: Vice President at Oracle, Chief Communications Officer at Cisco, Senior Vice President at GoDaddy, and Chief Communications Officer at Brex. So, what intrigued you about working within Higher Education and why did you choose San Luis Obispo? 

In my tech career, I traveled a ton and I lived in the Bay Area for a little. But, for the most part, I’ve always lived in San Luis Obispo. The reason I wanted to change to this role specifically and work in higher education was that even though I worked on some amazing projects, I always felt pretty disconnected from where I lived. I’m pretty extroverted — when I go downtown, I love running into everyone I know. But, I wanted to understand what it felt like to work and live in the same community. I hope that some of my previous experiences will help shape the work that I do here on behalf of the University and local region. I always knew that I wanted to work at Cal Poly and I sort of rattled through the years’ different iterations of what that could look like. But this ended up being such a great fit.

Cal Poly has such an awesome community, the institution is so impressive. What the CIE is doing has to be one of the best in the U.S. and I think that the best days of the CIE are ahead of us!

Q: What is something that has surprised you about working in higher education? 

This wasn’t necessarily surprising, but when you actually experience it, it’s pretty amazing, which is the depth of knowledge in different areas at Cal Poly. I’ve sat in on some talks around campus, attended classes on various topics, and learned about so many different things — it’s totally mind-blowing. Every time I go to a talk, I always come out thinking: why didn’t I major in that, why didn’t I major in Social Science? It’s so eye-opening, the schools of study are so immense and fascinating. Where people specialize – how they do it and how people find their niche also fascinates me – I just love that part of the process. 

Q: What does the future look like for economic development in San Luis Obispo? 

The University has had pockets of economic development for years and some really cool projects. When President Armstrong made my role a position out of his office, it was because he saw there was so much opportunity in our region right now. For instance, the Morro Bay wind area and the three wind developers that are looking to build the first deepwater offshore wind installation in the US. We need to think, how do we as a community come together to not only shape these opportunities in alignment with our regional goals and values but also drive economic growth? We always have to think about how we can keep our community vibrant, innovative and alive. A lot of that comes from economic development. So, when you think about projects even in other spaces like Space Commercialization, Precision Manufacturing and Ag Tech, these are huge opportunities that could create massive jobs in our region which is also a huge opportunity for Cal Poly. 

In some respects, it’s an embarrassment of riches and I don’t know which amazing opportunity to focus on first because there are so many that have so much benefit for us! This is a very rich area to develop and over time it will become clear what paths are going to be the most beneficial. 

Q: Describe your perfect day. 

My husband and I wake up at five every day, by design. We love it because we sit and have coffee for an hour and stare out the window at Madonna Mountain. Then, I would go take my dog Frida out to run — we usually go to Madonna Mountain or Poly Canyon. Then, I would come back and have brunch somewhere yummy. After that, I would take a nap — a perfect day would have a nap. Then, in the afternoon, I would go up to our horse ranch in Creston and take my horse and maybe another horse out on a ride. Then, I would sit out with some friends, have wine in the backyard and look at the sun going down in Creston. That would really be a perfect day.

Q: What do you admire most in other people? 

Authenticity. I don’t know how you have a real relationship with somebody who isn’t authentic to who they are. I’m not interested in someone’s status. People who are completely themselves are fascinating and I love learning about who they are, what motivates them, what they love and what they don’t love. So, I think authenticity and vulnerability — vulnerability is kind of necessary to be authentic — are the things I deeply admire and am attracted to. I enjoy it when things don’t feel produced or forced. 

Q: What is something that you are passionate about and why? 

That’s part of my problem, I tend to swing back and forth between a few different passions. My family is an obvious one, I have a 19-year-old daughter at the University of Oregon. We have that kind of relationship where we just click and I cannot say how much I have loved being her mom. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever experienced. 

I’m also extraordinarily passionate about anything outdoors. I work with a nonprofit horse rescue that rescues Mustangs, so that’s probably where I spend the vast majority of my concentrated time. Our ranch has over 20 rescues right now and we adopt them, train them, then adopt them out to other homes. It’s pretty heartbreaking what we do to wild horses and so wild horse advocacy is something that I’m super interested in. 

I’m also really interested in women in technology issues, women’s rights issues and social activism. 

Q: What is a movie you could watch every day and why?

Pride and Prejudice. If I wake up too early and I can’t go back to sleep, I watch Pride and Prejudice. I was a literature major in college and I love the story. I love the way it budges around social classes and the role of women. It’s an extraordinarily progressive concept, especially for when it was written so I love that. 

Q: If you started a business, what would it be?  

I used to want to run a cheese shop. I love understanding what people are doing and how they are looking for cheese to be in their life. Then, I like matching them with the right cheese. In fact, at some point, I registered a domain called The Cheese Algorithm, which was basically matching somebody to cheese. 

The other thing I started at GoDaddy was a reverse mentorship program. I was blown away by how beneficial it was for people earlier in their careers to mentor more senior people. I always thought that would be just an amazing nonprofit to start in some capacity. 

Q: What makes you passionate about entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship defies logic in so many ways. I do not have an entrepreneur’s brain myself — I think I have an innovator’s brain but not an entrepreneur’s. The bravery and courage it takes to become an entrepreneur, it astounds me. I have an insane respect for those who are willing to walk that path because it’s not an easy one and it takes a special human. 

Spending almost three decades in Silicon Valley and seeing the actual impact and results of those who are brave enough to walk that path is amazing. When I started at Oracle, it had 40,000 employees and when I left Oracle, it had 120,000 employees. Cisco had 75,000 employees when I Ieft. You don’t know how people will do it but they make it work and end up employing hundreds of people around the world and powering governments, cities and corporations. It’s just mind-boggling what entrepreneurship and technology can do.

I have never lost my passion for the transformational power of technology. I think the pure nature of what many people try to do through entrepreneurship and in technology specifically is a marvel.

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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Entrepreneurship

This March was National Women’s History Month, a time dedicated to honoring women’s achievements and contributions throughout history. This year, we had the privilege of speaking with several remarkable female entrepreneurs and all-female teams in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) community. Let’s take a close look at these inspiring women: 

Maureen (Mo) Vasquez, Founder and Creative Director of Pipsticks 

Our first female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Maureen (Mo) Vasquez, founder and Creative Director of Pipsticks! Mo, sticker lover, designer and mother of four, founded Pipsticks back in 2014 and, years later, is still growing her business through hard work and bright ideas! Pipsticks is the world’s largest sticker subscription service with subscribers in over 60 countries. They bring creative and unique stickers to the mailbox of collectors every month.

Mo works on an all-female team with Abby Fulton and Penny Kippe. Fulton and Kippe said Mo has a wonderful ability to balance the chaos of running her own business and being a mother of four. 

“It is inspiring to see a hardworking, creative powerhouse who is so down to earth as a leader,” they said.  

Pipsticks breaks the glass ceiling with a predominantly female team. A simple glance into their day-to-day operations shows how Pipsticks defies the negative stereotypes of women in business and embodies a culture that is innovative, motivating and supportive, Fulton explained. 

Pipsticks challenges stereotypes about women in business, proving that they are nothing short of empowering. 

Judy Mahan, CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Senior Economic Director

Our second female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month is Judy Mahan, Cal Poly CIE SBDC Senior Economic Development Director. Judy has been a part of the CIE for more than 13 years and has created a huge impact! ⁠

Mahan leads a talented team of women who all consider themselves fortunate to be under her leadership.  

“Judy is such a wonderful role model; she inspires me every day to work harder and aspire to do great things. She is unapologetically herself and amazing at what she does,” Libbie Stone, SBDC Videography Intern. 

Furthermore, Lynsey Fowler, SBDC Admin and Graphic Design Coordinator, said, “Working with Judy as a leader, I feel freer to be myself and I can talk to her about anything. She makes people feel very comfortable and included and brings great energy.” 

Mahan’s positive addition to the CIE, alongside her remarkable leadership and influence on her team, establishes her as an inspiring figure in the world of economic development and entrepreneurship. 

Penny Lane Case, CEO and co-founder of Nexstera Tech

Our third female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Penny Lane Case, CEO and co-founder of Nexstera Tech. Nexstera tech is revolutionizing material detection with Artificial intelligence (AI) – driven radar technology. Penny Lane Case leads an all-female team and is currently working on her startup through the CIE Incubator, a program that provides early-stage companies tools, training and infrastructure to develop into high-grown enterprises.  

Case explained her experience as a female founder in a male-dominated field: “In the startup world, it is more common to find male presence and success, but it makes it much more impactful to make it as a female founder. I look forward to the day when I can support other women starting their founder journey.” 

Much of Case’s success is attributed to her co-founders Stefany James and Kylene Landenberger. They work tirelessly to create and bring their entire beings into everything they do, she said. 

“Working on an all-female team alongside these two compassionate and brilliant women breeds true transcendent innovation,” Case said. “It gives me an advantage because the communication and desire to understand each other is our top priority.”

Case’s leadership at Nexstera Tech and collaboration with her all-female team exemplifies the power of female entrepreneurship and proves the importance of diversity in driving innovation. 

McCall Brinskele, founder and CEO of Mense

Our fourth female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month is McCall Brinskele, founder and CEO of Mense. Mense is a period care company on a mission to destigmatize and elevate the conversation surrounding menstruation. They have been apart of the CIE Incubator for almost a year and participated in the CIE Summer Accelerator program during 2022.

On top of running Mense, McCall also recently started a position as a Orfalea College of Business lecturer for both Business 310: Intro to Entrepreneurship and Business 461: Senior Project, alongside Assistant Professor and CIE Director of Academic Programs, Thomas Katona.

Additionally, she is also a woman in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) having received her Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering and Masters in Engineering Management at Cal Poly.

Her students describe her as “an excellent instructor” and “very approachable and extremely enthusiastic”. They note that McCall’s incorporation of her own entrepreneurial journey into her teaching has significantly enhanced their learning in the classroom

Along with all of the above, McCall is the daughter of an entrepreneur and has a strong passion for the theater and arts. 

Karen Tillman, Cal Poly CIE’s Interim Executive Director

Our final female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Karen Tillman, the CIE’s Interim Executive Director
(check out the Q&A we had with her here).

Tillman formerly worked as Chief Communications Officer at Oracle, Cisco, GoDaddy and Brex and brings more than 25 years of experience from the tech world. Passionate about entrepreneurship and the opportunities in our region, she looks forward to the future of economic development in San Luis Obispo. 

“We always have to think about how we can keep our community vibrant, innovative and alive,” Tillman said. “There are huge opportunities that could create massive jobs in our region which is also a huge opportunity for Cal Poly.” 

Tillman is “extraordinarily excited” for San Luis Obispo’s future and says, “there’s a lot ahead of us.” 

On top of her work accomplishments, Tillman works with a nonprofit horse rescue where she adopts Mustangs, trains them and adopts them out to other homes. 

Tillman’s impressive background in the tech industry coupled with her passion for entrepreneurship and commitment to community development positions her as a valuable asset to Cal Poly and the San Luis Obispo region as a whole. 

These are just a few of the many hardworking female entrepreneurs in the CIE community who inspire us every day. Women’s History Month is a reminder to respect and celebrate women’s contributions to society, economy, innovation and beyond. Together, we can amplify women’s voices and support these trailblazers who are paving the way for the future of women in business.

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Venturing beyond the stars: Little Place Labs utilizes collaboration with Cal Poly classrooms for entrepreneurial growth

While pursuing their MBAs at Oxford University, the brains behind Little Place Labs brewed up their startup idea over pints of Guinness. It all kicked off with one, then turned into five, and soon enough co-founders Bosco Lai, acting CEO, and Gaurav Bajaj, acting CTO, were deep into brainstorming. Fueled by laughter, camaraderie, and a dash of liquid courage, these co-founders turned pub banter into a startup known as Little Place Labs.

Little Place Labs, a space tech company, specializes in developing solutions for near real-time space insights. In a world heavily reliant on space data collected by satellites, their innovative approach involves implementing software that operates directly on satellites, enabling the transformation of space-collected data into actionable information delivered quickly to ground stakeholders. Their software is particularly crucial in situations where real-time decisions are imperative.

At the heart of Little Place Labs’ narrative is the profound significance of relationships and engaging with individuals.

“One of the key elements of why Little Place Lab exists is because I met my co-founder and some of the team members,” Lai said. “When you meet the right people, everything just kickstarts.”

The theme of relationships continued, as it was through a coincidental interaction that the Texas-based startup came to join the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship  Incubator program. 

The CIE Incubator helps develop early-stage startups into financially secure and scalable enterprises. Entrepreneurs in the program are provided with mentorship, funding opportunities and other resources to develop their business. 

In 2022, while attending a space event in Los Angeles, Lai said he crossed paths with Judy Mahan, Cal Poly CIE Senior Economic Development Director. Their casual conversation delved into the essence of Little Place Labs and Mahan’s role within the organization.

Quickly captivated by the Incubator’s diverse support for various startups beyond space tech, Lai said he immediately recognized the unique prospect the program offered. More than just a chance to immerse Little Place Labs in California’s dynamic ecosystem, Lai saw it as a golden opportunity to foster profound connections with a program deeply connected to a university that encourages collaboration between startups, academia, students and professors.

Little Place Labs joined the Incubator in 2022 and participates in the program virtually from Texas.

Through the CIE Incubator, Little Place Labs was introduced to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) professor Barry Lieberman, which they credit to be one of the best opportunities utilized from the program.

“Interaction with the personnel and people with Cal Poly really, really helped us,” Lai said. Working with the professors, students and directly with the university, helps us think through things not just from a commercial way, but also from a technical way.” 

Lieberman runs a commercialization of new technologies course at Cal Poly, structured around grouping his students to research for an emerging company in an under-researched market. Little Place Labs has collaborated with the students in this course the last two years.

Their participation in the course has proved to be a beneficial experience for both the students and Little Place Labs.

“We are able to really leverage the students during their time with Professor Liberman to do market research on Little Place Labs,” Lai said. “There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of work that we were able to leverage from the students during their time with us. We were very happy to use their work and merge it with our own.”

As the 2024 year begins, Lai said Little Place Labs is focusing on their business development. Specifically, working on partnerships, contacts, increasing exposure and planning seed ground fundraising events in the upcoming months. 

In line with their commitment to fostering relationships, they plan to continue working with Professor Lieberman and interacting with Cal Poly students.

“We really enjoy working with the professor and the students. We learned a lot, and I think that’s really valuable. Not all programs can provide us with that kind of exposure and interactions,” Lai said. “The Incubator is fantastic because it really provides you support in many different ways. The program is open to your imagination.”



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Revitalizing Professional Energy: A Filmmaker’s Journey at the CIE HotHouse

Taylor Jenisch’s transition from the solitude of remote work to the vibrant atmosphere at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) HotHouse in Downtown San Luis Obispo (SLO) was more than a mere change in location; it was a transformative experience that reenergized his professional life. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread shift to virtual, at-home work, Jenisch, founder and CEO of Burning Boat Films, found it difficult to deal with working remotely and its lonely quality. Despite the flexibility and freedom remote work offered, Jenisch felt a drop in productivity and the weight of isolation, he said. 

“I came to the HotHouse and immediately felt the energy of other people, especially the entrepreneurs,” Jenisch said. “Productivity picked up massively and I had a better mood from the people around and being able to talk to others.”    

Jenisch started Burning Boat Films, an entertainment company focused on creating documentary and narrative films, in Copenhagen. Eventually, he shifted his company’s base to SLO, engaging with independent contractors both locally and globally. 

Jenisch discovered the HotHouse through a mutual friend who was actively involved. Intrigued by the space, Jenisch decided to give it a try for a day, which has led to nearly a year of coworking. 

“The community and the people in the HotHouse were the biggest selling factor — they’ve got a really nice group of people,” Jenisch said. “Every day you get to meet someone new, which has helped me build solid business connections.” 

About a month after joining the HotHouse, Jenisch attended the CIE’s monthly Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Coffee and Conversation where the SBDC brings in a guest speaker to provide advice about a specific expertise ranging from sales to marketing to general business strategies. Following this event, Jenisch received a full investment in one of his films. 

“Through one of the Coffee and Conversations, I received a full investment for a film, which is insane for that short of time at a coworking space,” Jenisch explained. “I realized there are a lot of untapped resources here,” Jenisch said. 

Having grown up in Europe, Jenisch initially struggled with how to structure a business in America. However, Jenisch said he received a lot of help from the CIE staff and other connections within the HotHouse. He described transitioning to the HotHouse as a “180-degree turn for the better.”

“If you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself to put in a full day of work because you’re working in a room or have kids at home and are getting distracted, it’s a nice opportunity to come into a coworking space,” Jenisch said. “Get some socialization in and become fed by the motivation of other people.”

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Tailored solutions: Intersect Executive Performance redefines peak health for corporate leaders

Logan Jennings’s routine in San Francisco was a balancing act between grueling hours at a hedge fund and workout sessions alongside his friend, and soon to be co-founder and chief results officer, Jacob Hubert. However, a sudden health scare ultimately rewrote his life’s trajectory. 

A blood clot in his shoulder threatened his life. It took a close friend’s plea to prompt Logan’s visit to the hospital –– an action that proved to be a critical, life-or-death decision. The forced pause from his usual workout grind and prospect of losing his active lifestyle triggered a profound realization: he didn’t want to keep working for others. The experience ignited a desire to create something more aligned with his passions of fitness and health.

It was during regular hospital visits and recovery support that Hubert and Jennings came up with the idea for their startup, Intersect Executive Performance.

“I started visiting the hospital and thereafter he would come meet me for hours and we would talk and understand what the holes in the fitness industry were and where we could fit in,” Hubert said. 

The startup works to provide top leaders with a personalized, data-driven plan on how to best improve all aspects of their health without drastically changing executive’s already busy schedules. 

Intersect Executive Performance has a two-part process, which allows them to curate the optimal plan for their user. First, they collect the user’s parameters of work schedules, home life, stress levels, sleep quality, health history, gym accessibility and dietary restrictions. Then they analyze the results of the user’s blood biomarker and gut intelligence testing results.

Afterward, the team works with experts to create a personalized plan to enhance the team’s seven pillars of peak performance: energy, sleep, stress, daily habits, movement, nutrition and focus.

Like Jennings, Hubert was fully immersed in the corporate world after graduating, being employed at a consulting firm and sharing a passion for health and fitness. 

“[Fitness] was the only way I was able to stay sane with the amount of hours I was working,” Hubert said. “I was having success in my role, but I wanted that opportunity to grow. I knew that my potential wasn’t going to be as a cog in the machine. My potential was going to be in a place that required me to struggle and not have a safety net.”

Given their shared passion and solace in fitness, the two knew they wanted to do something in health and fitness performance, Hubert said. And their experience working in corporate America provided them insight into their target market of top leaders and executives. 

“We found there’s a hole in the assumption around these top leaders having everything figured out. But in reality, they need help balancing,” Hubert said. “When I was working in my consulting firm, a lot of my leaders seemed like they’re handling everything, but they’re struggling to balance it all. They might have been fulfilled from a work perspective, but they felt other aspects of their life slipping as a result of the burden that they take on by being a leader in their business and community.”

Their services are provided primarily virtually, with weekly touch points and opportunities for phone calls and direct messaging to allow executives to continue focusing on their responsibilities.

“Our goal is really not to take up time or add things to an already crowded plate but really be able to blend into their lives,” Hubert said.

With a clear goal in mind, the two California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo graduates turned to the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) Incubator program in the fall of 2022 to gain knowledge in entrepreneurship and startups.

The program helps develop early-stage startups into financially secure and scalable enterprises. Entrepreneurs in the Incubator program are provided with mentorship, funding opportunities and other resources to develop their business. 

“Although we both graduated from the school of business, we realized that we don’t know what we don’t know,” Hubert said. “There’s so many different stones that need to be turned, and every time you untorn a new stone, there are 1,000 more stones underneath that.” 

Beyond providing resources and knowledge, the Incubator has also provided the startup with a community. 

“The killer of startups is a lack of focus. There’s a lot of noise, and the CIE provides a community that has gone through and heard the noise before,” Hubert said. “Even though not every person in the Incubator is in the same industry or solving the same problem, [the Incubator] allows us to learn from each and grow alongside other people who are struggling and growing and learning.”

The team was also introduced to consultant Mitch Emerson, who is now a part of the team’s advisory board. 

“Mitch Emerson has had the biggest impact on our growth and success,” Hubert said. “Mitch has technical background, but his operation skills and understanding of what matters what and what doesn’t and how to shift your focus and how to prioritize has been instrumental to our ability to grow and succeed.” 

The Incubator program, Hubert said, perfectly embodies the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together,” Hubert said. “The CIE really provides that sense of togetherness.”


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Cal Poly students shine at entrepreneurial conference, embracing Cal Poly’s core value ‘Learn By Doing.’

Four Cal Poly students attended the 40th annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Global Conference & Pitch Competition held in Tampa, Florida, immersing themselves in Cal Poly’s practical learning approach known as ‘Learn By Doing.’ CEO is a global network for collegiate entrepreneurs and innovators with more than 250 college and university chapters; they support and inspire the growth of any student that seeks to be entrepreneurial. 

Out of the 600 startup teams that applied, Cal Poly business administration seniors Benjamin Arts and Mathew Reis made it to the top 25 as finalists with their startup Té Piña

Té Piña is a pineapple-based beverage that provides consumers with a healthier alternative to energy drinks. 

Arts attended the CEO event in 2022 as a spectator, having been recommended by faculty as a student who would effectively represent the Cal Poly entrepreneurship program. This year, after feeling confident in their startup, Arts and Reis decided to apply to the competition.

Prior to the CEO event, Arts and Reis participated in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Summer Accelerator, a three-month program that provides Cal Poly students and recent graduates with the resources needed to turn their startups into real, scalable businesses.

“During the Summer Accelerator, every Friday you are pitching and receiving constructive criticism. After going through an experience of 12 weeks of pitching, it’s really hard to be put in a scenario where you’re not ready to go under fire,” said Reis. 

Because of their involvement with the Summer Accelerator, Arts and Reis felt more equipped talking about their business than other teams pitching, Arts said.  

“With general pitching and answering certain questions, it showed that we have [pitched our business] 100 times,” Arts explained. 

Joining Arts and Reis were the President and Vice President of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) Michelle Wu and Jacob Boyd who are both business administration sophomores. CPE is a student-run club that unifies entrepreneurs on campus. 

Each year the CEO organizers invite the President and Vice President of entrepreneurship chapters in their organization to enjoy the event as spectators. 

The CEO conference was a great opportunity to network and get more involved in the startup culture, Boyd said. 

“Seeing other leaders involved and being so passionate about what they’re doing motivates me as well,” Wu explained. “It’s a reminder that we are all in this together.” 

Going into the conference, Boyd was concerned that compared to other entrepreneurship chapters, CPE would be lacking as a club. To his surprise, members of other chapters came to CPE for advice and “being able to help them out was pretty cool,” he said. 

Reis, Arts, Boyd and Wu all found the CEO event to be invaluable in terms of meeting mentors, participating in workshops, expanding their network and taking advice from keynote speakers, they said. 

“The whole experience was ‘Learn By Doing’ and it showed us what it is like to be a real entrepreneur,” Wu said. “I’m grateful to have experiences like this coming out of Cal Poly.” 

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