For San Luis Obispo entrepreneurs like Brett Foreman, community and mentorship are key to a successful startup. They’re also big reasons as to why the entrepreneurs stick around.
When Foreman first interacted with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), he took a new idea into the 2017 HotHouse Accelerator program. This idea has now developed into his growing company Kick-it Points, a “real world social app” that relays local business deals to users who get out and do things in the surrounding area.
The app, which is iPhone- and Android-compatible, encourages people to explore San Luis Obispo, whether that be going to Avila Beach, studying at the Robert E. Kennedy Library or catching sunset on Terrace Hill. Kick-it Points users can then check-in at certain spots to claim deals for local businesses like Woodstock’s Pizza or SLO Yoga Center.
Although he is looking to expand his app’s reach, it is currently just based in San Luis Obispo. Nonetheless, Foreman says starting here was the best decision he made.
“Part of why we’ve been successful as a company and at growing Kick-it Points is because we started by accessing the community first,” he said. “In a place like San Luis Obispo where everybody’s about community, everybody’s about sharing the vision and growing together, that charm is essentially what’s allowed us to grow.”
But Foreman didn’t get to that point of accessing the local community all on his own — he utilized the CIE’s bounty of mentors to navigate the startup world.
“Once I graduated from the [Accelerator] program, I thought I could go kind of underground for as long as I wanted and build the business myself,” he explained. “Eventually, I made my way back to the wealth of knowledge that the mentors bring.”
One of his mentors from the beginnings of his business, the CIE’s Interim Executive Director John Townsend, has continued to help Foreman with everything from revenue to expenses to how he’s balancing life and work.
“The CIE has been an awesome asset to have. Everyone involved in the organization is so willing to help and further your business,” Foreman said. “They’re always putting you first and it’s visible through all of the awesome companies they’re pumping out.”
Of course, the startup’s team of 10 loves having its base on the Central Coast for the laid back and fun lifestyle; but the reasons for keeping Kick-it Points local always circles back to the support of entrepreneurship and growth.
“If I was to leave and try to bring [Kick-it Points] somewhere else that has less of a camaraderie around a community, then we wouldn’t have had as much success as we’ve had so far.”
Head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/ to find out how you can access the CIE’s mentorship and community for your SLOcal startup and find out more about Kick-it Points at https://www.kickitpoints.com/.