Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


Meet a HotHouse Coworker: Buddhi Boxx

By Dylan Grant

HotHouse coworker Alisa Reynolds has revolutionized the desk to improve wellness while doing office work. Founder of the company Buddhi Boxx, Reynolds invented the world’s first floor-sitting to a standing desk to combat health problems associated with stationary living. Innovative and mindful of holistic wellness in the workplace, Reynold’s attributes some of her best ideas to inspiration drawn from the HotHouse coworking space.

“I don’t think I could do what I do without the interaction that I find in the coworking space,” she said.

The CIE created a community coworking space with the goal of providing an exceptional work environment for entrepreneurs. Local professionals are guaranteed to maximize productivity with access to business consulting and a collaborative atmosphere.

“My reason for coming out of the home office and into the HotHouse coworking space was to be a part of the community that I am serving and that I work with,” said Reynolds. “There’s no reason to be in my house while I’m doing my work instead of interacting with the amazing minds of people in this city.”

Join a community of entrepreneurs in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo by becoming a HotHouse coworker. Any business professional regardless of their affiliation with Cal Poly or a startup is more than welcome. Explore all-inclusive membership amenities and become a coworker.


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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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20 Things to Do in SLO for $20 or under

By Dylan Grant

A rough idea is the foundation of even the most successful businesses. Transforming innovative concepts into a reality often forces startups to run with minimal resources. SLO entrepreneurs know how to make things work on a budget. We’ve provided a list of 20 things you can do in SLO for $20 or under this summer. Pull from the activities below and make high-priced memories on a bootstrap income.

SLO County Farmers Market

Support our local farmers and enjoy fresh fruits, veggies and artisan goods at the market of your choice this summer. Munch on corn-on-the-cob while taking in the sound of vendor chatter and eclectic instrumentals. To pinpoint your favorite merchants and place your orders at farmers markets around SLO County, download the Arkitu app courtesy of our CIE incubator company.

Beer at the Pier

Monday evenings just got a little more fun. From 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Baywood Park comes alive with live music, food and drink, a dancing lawn, fire pit and more. With bands and artists ranging from Roots Reggae to Afro Latin Groove to the keyboardist for U2, Beer at the Pier is for everyone. Grab your family, your friends and your lawn chairs for an evening of fun, free of charge.

Tour Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa

Come explore one of SLO’s most renowned landmarks! The Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa offers free, docent-led tours Monday through Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Founded in 1772, this Spanish mission is located right in the heart of downtown SLO.

Morro Bay Skateboard Museum

Take a trip from the early 1930s to the present day. The Morro Bay Skateboard Museum’s collection of over 200 skateboards showcases every era in the sport’s history. Stop in and explore the evolution of skateboarding.

Sunset Drive-In

Warm summer nights in San Luis Obispo might be best spent tuned into a double feature at the iconic Sunset Drive-In. New films play seven nights a week at this charming outdoor theatre for a ticket price of $9. If you’re an early riser, swing by on Sunday mornings for a swap meet of goods and vintage knick-knacks.

Art After Dark

Wander through downtown SLO on the first Friday of every month to ponder the work of local artists. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. and wrapping up at 9:00 p.m., Art After Dark is a wonderful way to experience SLO culture and community.

Central Coast Kayak Rental

Hit the glassy waters of Shell Beach with the help of Central Coast Kayaks. Spend $20 for an hour of beautiful rock formation and aquatic exploration. Rentals open at 9:00 a.m. so bundle up for a tranquil paddling experience.

Full Day Surfboard Rentals

Spend the day catching waves on the shores of Pismo Beach for $20. Full-day surf and boogie board rentals are available at Pismo Beach Surf Shop. Enjoy chasing waves and swimming out to sea on a budget. Slip into a wetsuit to combat the Central Coast chill for an extra $10.

Morro Bay Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Test your balance with an hour of paddle boarding around Morro Bay’s four miles of smooth waters. If kayaking or surfing isn’t for you, stand up for $20 an hour paddleboarding.

The Central Coast Aquarium in Avila

Home to dozens of species, the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach offers visitors a hands-on approach to marine appreciation. Take a few hours to meet a giant Pacific octopus along with sea stars, rock crabs, smooth hound sharks and a gumboot chiton. General admission is $8.

Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero

Walk up to a flamboyance of flamingos this summer at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. Hundreds of species call this zoo home. Come give a warm hello to animals ranging from a Malayan tiger to the colorful Gila monster for the price of $7.

Moonstone Hunting

Get in touch with your inner treasure seeker on the shores of Moonstone Beach in Cambria. Hunt for rocks and enjoy the sight of harbor seals sunbathing on the coast. Venture downtown for an array of antique stores finds and grab a lunch to remember in The Cafe’s succulent garden.

Morro Bay Harbor Cruise

Bring your sea legs for a cruise around Morro Bay Harbor. Otters, sea lions and schools of jellyfish welcome you to climb aboard a Sub Sea Tour this summer for $20. Narrated tours last 45 minutes and offer below deck views of the harbor.

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Drive north for a self-led tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, a historic park and wildlife sanctuary. The light station is open to all hikers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on July 25 and August 29. Click the link for more information on hiking guidelines and directions.

Avila Ridge Hike

Grab a sandwich from your favorite local deli and fill up your hydroflasks. Once you climb to the top of Avila Ridge, this steep hikes ocean views will keep you enjoying the sights for hours. Indulge in a picnic this summer at the top of one of SLO’s natural wonders.

The Pad Climbing Gym

Join SLO’s climbing community with a $ 15-day pass to the Pad Climbing Gym. Enjoy a work out at your own pace at this indoor rock climbing center. Plan your visit during staff hours from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Hop on the phone and book yourself a private mineral hot tub under the stars in Avila. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa provides a therapeutic outdoor experience for $15 a person Monday through Thursday. Rates rise to $20 a person over the weekend.

Avila Valley Barn

Fresh produce and delicious baked goods are waiting for you at Avila Valley Barn. Slurp up some homemade ice cream before catching a hayride this summer. This homestead offers fun for all ages with charming goodies and a petting zoo.

Chase a Waterfall

Take a trip to Big Falls Trailhead in Arroyo Grande for a serene waterfall vista. Close to four miles in and out, this brief hike yields a serious reward. Enjoy the natural sights but watch out for poison oak on your stroll towards roaring waters.

Oceano Beach Bonfires

No late night snack can beat an oozing marshmallow stuffed between graham crackers. Break out some kindling for a summer bonfire on the shores of the Oceano Dunes. Driving your car onto the sand costs $5, but entry is free for those willing to carry their wood onto the beach from the street. Beach hours are limited to 11 p.m. in Pismo and Grover.

Enjoy the entrepreneurial lifestyle on the Central Coast this summer without breaking the bank! Lack of funds can’t hold our innovators back from embracing the SLO entrepreneur lifestyle.


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Get More Productive at Work with these 7 Tips and Tricks

Woman looking at TV

By: Lauren Arendt

Have you ever found yourself reading the same line of text over and over again, procrastinating a task you’ve been dreading all day, or in a midday slump where you just can’t seem to get anything done? If so, this may be a sign that you need to make some changes to get more productive at work.

Working as an entrepreneur pulls people in many different directions and requires high levels of productivity day in and day out, however, this draining lifestyle easily leads to fatigue. Entrepreneurs know, however, that this slip in efficiency is simply not an option in the fast-paced, make-it-or-break-it lifestyle they lead.

We have some tips and tricks that entrepreneurs can incorporate into their everyday routine to get more productive and avoid fatigue at work.

1. Set clear, attainable goals

It is very difficult to get started when you don’t know where you are going. Setting reasonable goals and outlining the steps to accomplish them helps focus your day and jumpstart productivity. If you are too overwhelmed with tasks to complete, getting started on any which one is daunting. Rather than taking on too much at once, simply pick a handful of tasks for the day and give them your all.

Setting goals can be as simple as writing them down on a piece of paper. Writing or typing them out is important to get more productive, however, because you are forced to define them. Your goals feel much more tangible and less impossible once outlined in writing.

Make sure to cross your goals off and reward yourself once they are complete to incentivize yourself to move onto the next project. Take a walk outside, get your favorite lunch, or go spark up a conversation with a coworker or friend to gear up for the next item on your to-do list.  

2. Set goals of different sizes and scopes

Don’t simply focus on the next few hours or days in front of you. Rather, keep the big picture in mind at all times. You aren’t putting all of these hours of work in just for the sake of it, but for an overreaching mission to make a change in your life or in the life of others.

Make that overreaching mission the goal that guides all subsequent goals. This will add meaning and value to even the most monotonous daily tasks.

3. Surround yourself with inspiration

You might have a goal or mission guiding your work as an entrepreneur, but you might lose sight of it when working on tasks from day-to-day. Feeling like your work is meaningless or unimportant is a gateway to losing motivation and subsequently becoming less productive.

Surrounding yourself with reminders of the bigger picture is a key way to get more productive. Whether it is a quote that reminds you why you started out on your entrepreneurial journey, a sketch of your product prototype, or a photo of your team framed on your desk, keep something in plain sight that reminds you that every menial task is leading up to something great.

4.  Avoid Multitasking at all costs

A little-known fact is that multitasking in biologically impossible. You might think you are negotiating over the phone, answering an email, and watching Netflix all at the same time, but chances are, you aren’t giving any one of those tasks your full attention. Multitasking severely limits creativity and oftentimes causes many more errors. The number of thoughts and ideas a person can process is limited at any given time, meaning that when you multitask, new, creative ideas will be blocked out and errors will be missed much more easily.

“Monotasking,” or doing one task at a time, serves you better in the long run. You will not only complete tasks more quickly, but the tasks will be completed with more quality. Rather than doing everything at once poorly, do one thing at a time to the best of your ability.

5. Go outside as frequently as possible

Let’s face it: offices can be pretty bleak, especially after spending hours on end in them. Make sure to get up and go outside to get refreshed. Taking frequent breaks might seem counterproductive, but the reality is that by resting the brain and eyes and moving the body, you will be much more productive during the time you are working.

Spending too much time indoors working will lead to fatigue and slower brain processes, but getting up, going outside, and hitting the reset button helps you come back to work more productive, creative and positive than before.

6. Get a change of scenery

As said before, spending too much time in one dreary place can suck the life out of a person. One way to combat this is to change up the setting every now and then.

If your office is near a coffee shop, park, or library, take advantage of the mobile technology of today and spend some time getting out of the office and into a new, more exciting location. You will likely find that this new setting is not only free from the distractions of your office but offers new inspiration for creativity.

Check out these great lunch spots around San Luis Obispo to peak your inspiration.

7. Take note of what distracts you

Awareness is the first step in creating change. There are likely things all around you in your work space that distract you–some of which you can change, and some you cannot. Maybe social media is your main distractor, or maybe it’s your coworker’s conversations in the next room. No matter what it is, take note of when you are distracted so that you can work to stay focused in the future.

If the distraction is something you can change, don’t go cold turkey. For example, if social media or your cell phone serves as your largest distractor, rather than turning it off completely, set a timer and only allow yourself to use it in intervals. This will serve as an incentive to get more productive when you’re supposed to, as you know your designated social media time (or whatever else distracts you) time is just around the corner.

Next time you are feeling distracted or fatigued at work, simply make small changes throughout your day to get more productive. Write down your goals, big and small, complete one task at a time, go outside and take breaks on a regular basis, get a change of scenery from time to time, and make sure to take note of your main distractors to have more productive days that lead to a more productive entrepreneurial journey.

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CIE Faculty Fellow Spotlight: Ahmed Deif

by: Lauren Arendt

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Faculty Fellows exist at Cal Poly to help foster entrepreneurship throughout the Cal Poly campus by connecting with students across multiple disciplines. One of these education innovators, Ahmed Deif, incorporates not only entrepreneurship and innovation into his industrial technology classes but games, too.

Ahmed Deif works as an assistant professor of industrial technology and packaging in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. He first became interested in becoming a CIE Faculty Fellow when he realized that the marriage between business and engineering that industrial technology embodied was similar to the marriage between technical thinking and business found in entrepreneurship.

The classes revolve around creating a hands-on approach to educating that gets students excited about innovation in supply chains and the new trend in transforming supply chains from cost centers to value centers.

Deif achieves this lofty goal through gamification or creating games out of otherwise less engaging lesson plans. He said that he uses this strategy because, statistically, using the hands allows students to access untapped knowledge otherwise impossible to reach.

“Instead of just speaking for two hours and getting [the students] bored and sleepy, I introduce the problem for 10 to 15 minutes and then we play a game,” said Deif. “This robust education approach keeps students very engaged.”

A graduate student in the Cal Poly MBA program, as well as a student in one of Deif’s innovative industrial technologies classes, Christiaan de Nysschen, agreed that the gamification approach creates a more interactive and engaging educational experience.

“One reason I would recommend this course and this professor is first of all the unconventional approach,” said Nysschen. “Case studies are the norm in other classes which is nice, but also very theory-based where the games incorporate a new element with something that is both memorable and applicable.”

Deif said that there is one problem that comes with introducing games into the classroom: over enrollment. Students have heard about these game-centric courses and enroll in his classes in large numbers. He now has a cap on many of his courses.

While Deif introduces innovation and entrepreneurship at the intersection between business and engineering, numerous other CIE Faculty Fellows bring the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation to their fields of study across all six colleges at Cal Poly. Learn more about the impact these CIE Faculty Fellows have on the Cal Poly community, as well as how to become a CIE Faculty Fellow here.

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Learn, Prepare Launch: App Scrolls Founder’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Chad Kim, the CEO, and founder of the SLO HotHouse Incubating company, App Scrolls, started out his company with a mission to build online communities for top grossing mobile games. Keeping in mind that the number one reason people stay in a game is because they made friends in that game, Kim wanted to create a place for players to learn more about the games, join chat rooms, and most importantly, make connections and build teams.

At the beginning of his journey, Kim used the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) resources to qualify his business ideas.

“If I can win these competitions then I will invest my time and my life into this company,” said Kim. “But if I can’t, then it’s not good enough.”

After competing in the Elevator Pitch Competition and taking home the grand prize, and then entering the Innovation Quest and receiving the second place award, Kim saw the quantitative proof he desired to prove his idea could work.

From here, Kim applied and was accepted into the SLO Hothouse Accelerator program. He said that he started off feeling uncomfortable with and uncertain about what his entrepreneurial journey would entail, but that the different seminars and mentors in the program helped him get a better grasp of what was necessary for success.

After about two years of growing his company, Kim said that he came to what felt like a halt. This led him to work for another company for about six months. In this time, he realized that he functioned best when working in his “sweet spot.” To make App Scrolls work, he needed to play his strengths and build a team to do the rest.

He jumped back into App Scrolls with a new momentum, joining the SLO HotHouse Incubator program and acquiring a new batch of influential new clients.

In the SLO HotHouse Incubator program, Kim found that relationships with other teams became one of the most influential aspects of his journey. The social connections he made in the at CIE and in the SLO HotHouse helped guide him through unfamiliar territory when building his own business, as he could learn from the mistakes and successes of others. He even started hosting game nights to help build comradery among the teams.

Beyond connections with other teams in the SLO HotHouse Incubator, Kim connected with mentors that were “game-changing” in his entrepreneurial process.  

“Apply to the incubator if you want to be around like-minded entrepreneurs who will help you build your business,” said Kim.

Kim’s future plans are to continue building upon the original App Scrolls mission to help players build relationships with each other and provide an authentic place for them to come together away from the game publishers.

Community and Cal Poly student startups are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more about the SLO HotHouse Incubator program or submit an application at

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6 Reasons Why San Luis Obispo is the Best Place to be an Entrepreneur

By: Lauren Arendt

We think San Luis Obispo is paradise for entrepreneurs. When it’s time to get to work, the vibrant downtown scene offers countless opportunities for inspiration. All the while, scenic outdoors adventures and world-class relaxation destinations await for when you’re ready to take a break from the daily grind.

If you still aren’t convinced, continue reading to see for yourself why San Luis Obispo is the best place to be an entrepreneur.

1. Beaches

Did you know the City of San Luis Obispo is one of the only places in California that has beaches in not one, not two, but three directions? We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to the North, West and South of the city, each within only 15 minutes. Drive to the North and find yourself along the Morro Strand, an expansive scenic beach most well-known for the view of Morro Rock, a 581 foot-tall mountain located right along the water’s edge. To the West of the City of San Luis Obispo, Montana de Oro State Park, or as some call it, “Little Big Sur,” rests along the coast. This dramatic coastline offers opportunities to hike, bike and camp, along with all of the traditional beach activities you love, such as surfing and sunbathing. Avila and Pismo Beach, located to the South of the city, make for the perfect relaxation destinations. Equipped with quaint beach towns, soft sands, and perfect waves, these Southern beaches have something to offer everyone. Lucky beachgoers might even spot whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals and sea lions.

The ocean has been said to have innate health benefits. According to Live Science, moving closer to the coast “significantly improves people’s well-being,” including reducing stress and encouraging physical activity. If just one beach has such great benefits, what do three beaches mean for the lucky entrepreneurs that call San Luis Obispo home?

2. Mountains

In many communities throughout California, living on the coast makes it hard to escape city or suburban landscapes to get fresher air. For those living in San Luis Obispo, however, opportunities to explore the mountains and breathe in fresh air are around every corner. The City of San Luis Obispo is surrounded by a “green belt,” meaning that no development is allowed within a certain perimeter of land. What this means for the residents of the county is that there are endless open spaces and hiking trails to explore. Take a quick jaunt up Cerro San Luis for panoramic views of the entire City of San Luis Obispo, or take a more challenging hike up Valencia Peak for spectacular coastal views from the top.

Within only four hours of San Luis Obispo, some of the most spectacular mountains in the country can be accessed. Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia are only a few of the weekend getaways possible for those living in San Luis Obispo. Read THIS blog for more weekend getaway ideas perfect for those living in San Luis Obispo.

3. Restaurants and Local Farmers

Living a healthy lifestyle is crucial for maintaining success and living up to your greatest potential. If “you are what you eat,” those living in San Luis Obispo are headed in the right direction. In Downtown San Luis Obispo, fresh, eclectic, local restaurants and cafes are around every corner. Better yet? Every Thursday evening, Downtown San Luis Obispo hosts one of the largest, most lively farmers markets in the state from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. This is an opportunity to connect with the community, purchase local produce, and grab dinner from a local vendor.

4. Location

Choosing between Los Angeles and the Bay Area can be difficult when deciding where to launch your startup, as both are bustling hubs for business. In San Luis Obispo, you don’t have to make the choice. Located only three hours away from both San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo makes for the perfect hub to get the best of both worlds. There is also an airport located in town, making it effortless to get anywhere, fast. 

5. It’s Up-and-Coming

Every year, more and more startups and larger scale companies plant their roots in San Luis Obispo, including MindBody, iFixit, and even Amazon. Driving through town, new construction projects seem to sprout up every day, bringing new hotels, retail fronts, restaurants and more to San Luis Obispo. It seems that word is starting to get out about the SLO-lifestyle we all know and love.

6. CIE  Resources

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) SLO HotHouse is an entrepreneurial hub in San Luis Obispo that offers countless resources designed to empower startups in the community and from the local university. These resources include a two-year long incubator program, a Small Business Development Center, mentors, workshops, forums, coworking space and more. Anyone thinking of launching a startup in San Luis Obispo should know they don’t have to do so alone. The SLO HotHouse exists to contribute to startup success, as well as make San Luis Obispo the best place it can be for entrepreneurs.

In addition to its off-campus programs, the CIE also offers programs on campus to all Cal Poly students regardless of their major. These programs include the Innovation Sandbox, which is equipped with the latest prototyping and ideation technology. The Hatchery, an on-campus incubator program that provides guidance and resources for students that want to take their business ideas to the next level, and the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs. A student-run club that hosts dozens of entrepreneurial events, activities and special guests.

San Luis Obispo offers a balanced lifestyle for entrepreneurs. In few other cities can you enjoy the perks of a metropolitan lifestyle, but escape to gorgeous coastlines or breathe the fresh air of the mountains on the turn of a dime. In San Luis Obispo, with the help of the CIE entrepreneurs can live in paradise and build the startup of their dreams all at the same time.

To learn more about all of the CIE available resources, go to

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Mantis Composites: a CIE Success Story

Mantis team sitting in bean bag chairs at the SLO HotHouse

By: Lauren Arendt


A local San Luis Obispo startup, Mantis Composites, is reinventing the tech industry with 3D printing. Looking at this four-year-old company now as it works with government entities and truly takes off, one would never believe that Mantis Composites was founded in its entirety by a group of college students on the Cal Poly campus.

Mantis Composites takes parts traditionally made out of machined metals and 3D prints them out of continuous carbon fiber. This not only allows Mantis Composites to manufacture the lightest parts per unit weight available in aerospace and automotive markets but also allows for shapes that would otherwise be impossible to make. This cutting-edge technology has led Mantis Composites to work with government bodies such as the U.S. Department of Defense.

CEO and Cofounder of Mantis Composites Ryan Dunn explained that the company truly came to fruition on the Cal Poly campus while utilizing the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) resources.

“We got involved with the CIE really early in the business,” Dunn said. “In the first two years, CIE resources and support were the primary drivers of what we were doing.”

The group of students that would eventually launch Mantis Composites began their entrepreneurial journey on the Cal Poly campus at the Innovation Sandbox, a CIE on-campus program where students can experiment with world-class technology and test their ideas on their own time, at their own pace, and for no added cost to their tuition. Utilizing the 3D printers at the Innovation Sandbox and collaborating with other students and advisors, the Mantis Composites team was able to run initial tests and validate their ideas. This validation gave them the boost of motivation they needed to jump to the next step in developing their startup.

From the Innovation Sandbox, the team of students went straight to the Summer Accelerator in 2015, a 13 week-long program in the SLO HotHouse where students are given $10,000 and guidance from mentors to help convert their entrepreneurial dreams into tangible realities. In the duration of the program, Mantis Composites was able to solidify their ideas and gear up for the next steps in building their company from the ground up.

Next came the Hatchery, an on-campus hub for students to collaborate with each other and receive guidance from mentors, professors and esteemed alumni. Such a complex startup demanded that the team pool all of the resources possible to build an action plan.

After realizing that funding would be a key factor in obtaining the equipment necessary to launch their startup, the Mantis Composites team entered and competed in the Innovation Quest competition not once, but two times, finishing in first place their second time around. Dunn said that the money awarded to Mantis Composites from Innovation Quest was key, as it was much more flexible than government grants. This flexibility allowed the team to acquire the equipment they needed to launch in a timely fashion.

“The CIE was really important in founding the key aspects of what our company is today,” said Dunn. “We did things a little out of order but worked with the CIE a lot for about two years which really helped us launch our company.”

Mantis Composites and the success they have experienced over the past four years speaks to the unlimited potential for students at Cal Poly to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. With the support of the CIE’s many resources dedicated to student success, no goal is too large and no student is too young to start on the path toward launching a startup.

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Innovation Quest Finalists 2018

By: Lauren Arendt

The Innovation Quest finalists have been announced. Check out the following list and find out who will be competing for the $15,000 grand prize this spring:

Fauna Farms

We want helping the environment to be as effortless as preparing a healthy meal with your loved ones. Fauna Farms is creating a much needed marketplace for small, sustainable ranchers to sell their meat to their local markets through its “Fauna Farms Smart Hubs”. These hubs will allow consumers to buy fresh, local, and sustainable meat, while also giving them a taste of the future of grocery shopping via the“click to kitchen” option.

Freezing of Gait Assistive Device

 Developing a medical device that addresses a vital need in an underserved market – freezing of gait in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). By utilizing a unique combination of audio-visual cues, our product allows an individual to immediately relieve a freezing of gait episode. Not only does this restore their mobility, it helps prevent potentially devastating falls and injury.

Gen III Drone

 We have designed and are currently building an autonomous precision agriculture drone that has the capability to fly as well as drive to notify farmers about crop-threatening problems and perform analysis on the problems.

HomeGrown Organics

A new era of home appliance that mixes farming, advanced technologies and functional aesthetics.


 We have developed a product that provides an easy and affordable solution to help Electric Vehicle owners adopt faster (Level 2) EV charging capability in their homes.

Lost Coast Surf Tech

 Creating the world’s highest performance surfboard fin with smart tracking features packaged into a comprehensive mobile app. The smartfin will be constructed and designed with aerospace technologies and leave a smaller carbon footprint than competitive fins on the market.

Massive Obstetric Hemorrhage Indication (MOHI) Device

The MOHI device can quickly indicate if a patient has lost the ability to clot during hemorrhage after childbirth. This device overcomes the cost, complexity, and most importantly, time currently required to assess the need to treat a new mother for this dangerous clotting condition


 A wearable physical therapy device that increases patient compliance through physiological feedback, increased accountability, and convenience for the user


 An appliance which automatically grows produce and herbs indoors by employing NASA-derived aeroponics technology to the growing indoor gardening movement. Users will have access to a steady harvest of up to 24 organic, pesticide-free plants and herbs all year round, no matter where they live nor what size their living space is.


 Private, influencer-curated shopping sites to help group members conform to guidelines while allowing them to express their individuality.


Rooster helps design students easily ideate and create successful visual layouts for screen and print, using a mobile app that seamlessly integrates with Adobe design software — we are targeting this group so that they adopt the technology early in their careers and bring it to the professional realm.


 Provides sexual education and gender based violence education to institutions through sketch comedy shows, online sketch videos, and social media content.

SilverScrub Dish Sponges

SilverScrub utilizes silver nanoparticle technology in products where cleanliness may affect human health. SilverScrub’s first product will be the world’s first truly antimicrobial dish spong

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7 Hikes Around San Luis Obispo You Probably Haven’t Tried

By: Lauren Arendt

One of the major selling points for living and working in San Luis Obispo is the collection of hiking trails it offers all around the county. Possibly surprising to some, San Luis Obispo offers much more than just Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis when it comes to getting outdoors. Entrepreneurs oftentimes have an adventurous spirit, and living in San Luis Obispo offers them countless opportunities to explore new ground.

We put together a list of some of the most breathtaking, yet underappreciated hiking trails in San Luis Obispo to help entrepreneurs get outside and experience the perks of starting their company on the California Central Coast.

1. Reservoir Canyon

This challenging hike off of the 101 offers a 5.6 mile hike surrounded by unique topography and foliage. From the peaceful waterfall at the base of the hike to the vast, panoramic views from the top, Reservoir Canyon is one of the most scenic hikes in San Luis Obispo. You can opt for the loop that takes hikers up and around the ridge, or for the trail that takes you all the way over the mountain to San Luis Obispo. Either way, spectacular views and fresh air await.

3. Harmony Headlands

Just North of Cayucos and only 20 minutes north of downtown San Luis Obispo on the highway one, the town of Harmony, population 18, is tucked away among the hills. On the west side of the highway in Harmony, a gorgeous State Park offers a flat, 4.5 mile lollipop loop through quaint marshes and peaceful chaparral grasses that ultimately lead to a rugged coastal scene. This trail is perfect for hikers of every level.

3. Irish Hills Natural Preserve

Hiking the Seven Sisters, such as Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis, is the most common choice, but what if you could take a hike with views of the Seven Sisters? Irish Hills Natural Preserve offers just that and more. Surrounded by oak trees, open meadows, abandoned mines, and babbling streams, this 4.1 mile hike offers hikers with the ultimate trail experience. From the top of the 700 foot elevation gain, expansive views of the Seven Sisters await hikers.

4. Islay Hill

Islay Hill is one of the underappreciated peaks of the Seven Sisters volcanic mountain chain. Other than Black Hill, Islay Hill is the easiest of the Seven Sisters to climb at about 2 miles round trip. Although a more leisurely hike, Islay Hill offers breathtaking views of Edna Valley and all of its vineyards, as well as the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. At the summit of Islay Hill, hikers are met with the perfect photo opportunity: a ten-foot tall wooden pole with iron climbing pegs that resembles the bottom of an electric pole. Climb up to the top of the pole and enjoy 360 degree views of San Luis Obispo.

5. Pismo Preserve

The newly opened Pismo Preserve offers a unique opportunity to explore a section of the California Coast almost entirely untouched. At this point, access to the trail is only permitted during docent led hikes. What was before a 900 acre private ranch is being transformed into an open space to be enjoyed by the public. The 10 miles of brand-new trails offer panoramic, coastal vistas and unlimited opportunities to explore wild places.  

6. Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area

Found only a few minutes North on the highway 101, Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area is tucked away among Cypress and evergreen trees. The hike starts at a high elevation, meaning the views start early and often. Although the trail is high in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, ocean views await. The challenging six mile hike gains about 1,000 feet of elevation, but is absolutely worth it for the unique views, foliage, topography and wildlife.

7. Salmon Creek

Salmon Creek, although still in San Luis Obispo County, offers a glimpse of what to come from the Big Sur Coast while only having to drive an hour up the highway one. 6.5 miles of hiking trails lined with rich plant-life and rushing creeks are available, however, the most spectacular part of the trail is a short walk from the highway: a breathtaking 120-foot waterfall. Beyond the waterfall, day hiking or overnight backpacking opportunities await for those craving an outdoors adventure in a rugged, lush environment.

Endless opportunities to get outside and breathe fresh air surrounded by wildlife await entrepreneurs living and working in San Luis Obispo. Whether you are in need of a quick morning hike or a weekend expedition, there is a hike in the county for you. So next time you decide it’s time to go for a hike, skip Bishop Peak and explore one of these hikes in San Luis Obispo that you probably haven’t tried yet.

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