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Entrepreneurship for All: The Graphic Communicator’s Perspective

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) hosts its annual Demo Day to showcase six startups Friday, Sept. 6, at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo. Photo by Joe Johnston/University Photographer/Cal Poly 9-6-19

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.