Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


Category: Incubator Company

Wildnote revolutionizes fieldwork and protects natural resources | Meet a CIE Incubator

The digital world has revolutionized the way people from many industries do their jobs. Kristen Hazard, CEO of Wildnote Inc., a Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) incubating company, realized that biologists, botanists, archeologists and other scientists still used primarily pen and paper and largely missed out on the benefits of digital tools. This observation inspired her to launch Wildnote Inc., a mission-driven organization focused on enhancing and protecting natural resources by building the best-in-class, go-to digital platform for collecting, managing and reporting environmental data.

A typical day for biologists and other scientists conducting field work demands that they record data using pen and paper on the scene and then later manually transcribe their notes into a clunky PDF or Word document to send to a project manager. This transcribing can be tedious busy work after a long day on the field, but also leaves room for error.

Wildnote takes away the need for manual transcription, saving people time and allowing for consistent, real-time data across a team.

“This is a classic paper to digital play,” Hazard said. “It basically means we are revolutionizing the process of collecting, managing and reporting this kind of data.”

Utilizing the technology leads to higher efficiency, higher accuracy and the exact same type of information from each person out in the field. When the project manager gets the data, they are working in a web app. This means they can go to a photo gallery, look at the different data collected from a single spot and export that data.

Wildnote’s mission to protect and enhance natural resources doesn’t stop at creating digital solutions for biologists: the company is a registered B Corporation and a member of the 1% for the Planet program, which means Wildnote donates one percent of gross revenue to environmental organizations.

“If you have a business in San Luis Obispo, you aren’t doing it because housing is cheap, you’re here because of the nature,” Hazard said. “We have clean air, clean water, so why not keep giving back to the local natural resources in a simple way like becoming a member of 1% for the Planet.”

Wildnote started their entrepreneurial journey in San Luis Obispo with the Small Business Development Center, hosted by the CIE, and utilizing the free consulting available. The team then entered the incubator program, a two-year-long program open to community members and Cal Poly students alike.

“We found out that the CIE allows community companies,” Hazard said. “I like to call it the old folks incubator or the late bloomer incubator.”

The modern office space in downtown San Luis Obispo, the support of mentors and consultants, and the CIE’s creative, can-do energy are some of the Wildnote team’s favorite benefits. Access to investors and learning unfamiliar skills gave them the boost they needed to grow into the company they are today.

“I get a lot of people who come to me about launching a startup,” Hazard said. “The first thing I always say is to either apply for the SBDC or incubator program. If you can get in, you are immediately given all of these resources you need to grow the company.”

If your community startup is interested in receiving office space, gaining mentorship and joining a vibrant, energetic community of like-minded entrepreneurs, visit and explore the tools that empowered Wildnote to revolutionize their industry.


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Entrepreneurship Electrified | Cal Poly Alumni Create a New EV Power Solution

By: Lauren Arendt


Electric vehicles (EV) are taking the world by storm. NeoCharge, an incubating company in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), is working to provide better-charging solutions for residential EV owners. NeoCharge CEO Spencer Harrison and CTO Akhil Veluru designed their first product, a smart adapter for EV’s at home, to save EV owners time and money, ultimately making residential EV ownership more practical and accessible.

“As an [electric vehicle] owner, level two charging is crucial,” Harrison said. “Our product gives you the fastest way to get the affordable charging you need at home.”

The team says their residential focus is was sets them apart in the EV world. They focus on how people charge their EV’s at home, what that experience looks like and how to make it as seamless as coming home and charging a cellphone or laptop overnight.

“Whatever way we can make [charging EV’s] as seamless and convenient as possible,” Veluru said. “That’s really what our goal is.”

NeoCharge developed the first iteration of their product and currently allows customers to sign up for beta testing. They plan to make tweaks and add features based on customer feedback. WiFi functionality and software that lets customers choose whether they want to use renewable energy to charge their EV’s are on the short list of features they are already looking to add in the second round.

To prepare for manufacturing and the necessary safety testing preceding it, the NeoCharge team is in search of funds.

Harrison and Veluru didn’t get to where they are today overnight. They started their entrepreneurial journey alongside the CIE as a part of the hatchery program, an entrepreneurial epicenter on the Cal Poly campus where interdisciplinary groups of students congregate to solidify ideas, form teams and receive the early mentorship and guidance they need.

“There are tons of people to reach out to and tons of connections who can help you with anything that you need help in,” Harrison said. We’re new to this so getting help from other people is a huge thing that the CIE can provide.”

From the hatchery, the NeoCharge team entered the 13-week-long summer HotHouse accelerator program. Here, they not only received seed funding, but a network of peers, seasoned mentors and industry connections to get their company off the ground.

Today, NeoCharge can be found in the CIE HotHouse as a part of the two-year-long incubator program supported by mentorship and the vibrant CIE community.

“Definitely consider the CIE Incubator program,” Veluru said. “It’s a great way to get off the ground, especially if you’re new to running a startup. I didn’t know anything about running a startup when I first came here and I have learned a lot.”

You can learn more about the products offered by NeoCharge and even sign up to be a beta tester at


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Meet a CIE Incubator: De Oro Devices

By: Lauren Arendt


Imagine feeling like you can’t move a muscle; as if your feet are glued to the floor. This is what freezing of gait feels like, one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

The CIE Incubator company De Oro Devices is dedicated to improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease and their first product is a device designed to manage freezing of gait.

“Freezing of gait is an incredibly debilitating symptom,” De Oro Devices Founder and biomedical engineering senior at Cal Poly Sidney Collin said. “It creates a lot of anxiety, creates fear and anxiety and is the leading cause of falls.”

Freezing of gait is caused by a lack of communication between the brain and the body. Collin found, however, that research shows this communication can be jump started using a series of audio and visual cues. This is what inspired the De Oro Devices product designed to counteract freezing of gait.

“We put the most effective audio and visual cues, put them into a small, portable device that fits onto any cane or walker and allow someone to regain movement and overcome freezing of gait episodes wherever they are,” Collin said.

The team has developed a prototype of the product that has already made a difference in people’s lives. It will be the least expensive and most portable device on the market designed to mitigate freezing of gait and the anxiety that comes with it.

“My intention as a person is to use the technology in the world to improve people’s quality of life and this company is an amazing way for me to do that,” Collin said. “Success for us is making products that have a real impact on people’s quality of life.”

De Oro Devices got their start in the Hatchery in Spring 2018. After building a team and solidifying their idea in the on-campus space, the company applied for the accelerator program and were admitted into the Summer 2018 class. After ten weeks of intensive preparation, De Oro Devices launched at Demo Day and continued their journey into the incubator.

“The CIE has been amazing,” Collin said. “There is no way I would be where I am without this program.”

Collin said the support of mentorship, funding, workshops and even office space made the CIE an invaluable experience for De Oro Devices.

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CIE Incubator Company Kick-it Points provides local deals for exploring SLO County

By Dylan Grant

Brett Foreman created a mobile app that offers rewards for being real-world social. CIE Incubator Company Kick-it Points allows users to claim deals from local businesses for engaging in activities exclusive to San Luis Obispo.

Trekking up Bishop Peak, taking a jaunt through Avila Beach or hunkering down to study in Kennedy Library can unlock various rewards and discounts from San Luis Obispo vendors. Users can download the Kick-it Points app for free on the App Store and scroll through an interactive map to find prime deals and activities. After paying a visit to select Kick-it locations, they can then redeem premium discounts from local favorites such as Woodstock’s Pizza, House of Bagels, Frog & Peach and Bull’s Tavern.

While Kick-it Points provides great options for those operating on a budget, the app also offers local businesses a unique opportunity to connect with consumers.

“One of our vendors actually just reached out to me saying that he would like me to move the structure of his deal to a different location in the real world,” Foreman said. “He was actually getting too much traffic.”

Foreman hopes to bring people together by motivating app users to engage with their community. Plans for future development include automating his app to make it easier for business owners to become Kick-it Points merchants. Such advancements could soon spur Kick-it Points rewards in both Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

“Being in the incubator has been a wonderful experience,” Foreman said, comparing the HotHouse to a human Google. “It’s helped my company grow immensely.”

The HotHouse provides the resources and mentorship needed to launch a startup. Join a community of entrepreneurs and apply to be a HotHouse incubator.

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