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.

Comments are off for this post

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

Comments are off for this post

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.

Comments are off for this post

10 Local Lunch Spots to Visit if You’re an Entrepreneur in SLO

By: Lauren Arendt

Downtown San Luis Obispo is bustling with local eateries of all sorts. As an entrepreneur, it only makes sense to pay patronage to small businesses in the area with their own entrepreneurial goals. Whether you’re craving a healthy bite or a hearty meal, there is a small business in San Luis Obispo serving up the perfect lunch for you.

1. Kreuzberg


Modeled after an actual segment of Berlin, Germany, Kreuzberg offers an eclectic, vibrant atmosphere and similar food choices. Although most well-known for their espresso drinks, the cafe offers an array of fresh, delicious lunch options. Choose a crisp salad, warm sandwich, hearty breakfast burrito (available all day!), or sweet acai bowl–all jam-packed with unique flavor combinations and elements. The quirky atmosphere (can you say lamps hanging upside down from the ceiling?) will draw you in, but the delicious, unique food and drink options will keep you coming back for more.

We recommend: Breakfast Burrito

2. Firestone Grill

Touted as having the best tri tip in California, Firestone Grill makes for the perfect hearty lunch option. They offer large portions at fair prices and truly have something for everyone. For all of the meat lovers, the tri tip sandwich, jammed-packed with meat and smothered in barbecue sauce,  will hit the spot. For anyone looking for a lighter, greener lunch, Firestone also offers veggie burgers and salads at the same high quality as their meat-lover offerings. Better yet? Firestone Grill is only a block away from the SLO HotHouse.

We recommend: Tri Tip Sandwich

3. Thai Palace

Located in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo and only a few steps away from the SLO HotHouse, Thai Palace is a great lunch option for any Thai-loving entrepreneurs. Order takeout or enjoy the classic decor and friendly atmosphere at the restaurant. The service is cheerful and the food delicious. They offer all the authentic Thai options you love, plus some specials with a modern twist.

We recommend: Yellow Curry

4. Mint + Craft

Healthy, fresh, and fun, Mint + Craft offers eclectic, unique food options suited perfectly for the adventurous entrepreneurial spirit. From a host of loaded toasts, craft sandwiches, and plates and bowls tailored for any dietary preference, Mint + Craft truly has something for everyone. Better yet? They offer an impressive espresso bar and adorable in-house gift shop full of local and sustainable goods.

We recommend: Toasties

5. Seeds

Acai bowls are the perfect lunch for a warm Central Coast day. Seeds, located on Garden Street, serves up some of the most aesthetic, delicious and unique acai bowls around. Not in the mood for the sweet treat? Seeds has you covered with avocado toasts, kombucha, and a host of other offerings. In addition to a delicious, energizing meal, Seeds offers a quaint, relaxing back patio space perfect for unwinding from that midday funk.

We recommend: Bowl 7

6. Bliss Cafe

Vegan food might be the sole offering at Bliss Cafe, but the bold flavors, large variety of options, and location right next door to the mission and creek make it perfect for anyone, no matter their dietary preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for a spicy curry, rich dessert, hearty buddha bowl, or green smoothie, Bliss Cafe serves up their many edible offerings with lots of love in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo.

We recommend: Avocado Lemon Love Bowl

7. Aisuru Sushi Bar

Although they offer a diverse collection of mouth-watering rolls, two things differentiate this local sushi restaurant from its competitors: (1) They offer much more than just sushi: diners can choose from poke bowls, rice bowls, noodle bowls and more. (2) They have the best deals around! You can check out this link for a complete list of the thrifty specials, but a few highlights include ninja rolls for $2.50 on Mondays, California rolls for $1.99 on Tuesdays, and $5.99 poke bowls on Sundays.

We recommend: $1.99 California Roll Tuesdays

8. Big Sky Cafe

This local San Luis Obispo cafe places a huge focus on local, seasonal food items, which makes every visit a new, fun experience. Offering traditional dishes from many cultures with modern twists, Big Sky offers healthy, fun meals perfect for a longer lunch or lunch meeting in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

We recommend: Traditional New Mexican Pozole Soup

9. Linnea’s

Most famous for their motto that Linnea’s is more than a coffee shop, but a community, Linneas offers a friendly environment, fully equipped with an open-air patio in the back. As far as the food, Linnea’s claim to fame tends to be fresh-made pastries and their all-day breakfast burritos, but the lunch specials change daily, making every visit something unique and special.

We recommend: All Day Breakfast Burrito or Daily Soup Special

10. Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

Perhaps one of the most beloved restaurants in all of San Luis Obispo, this Cal Poly alumni-founded restaurant offers endless authentic Italian food options, along with an eclectic, vibrant environment. The best part? The bread and dip they serve before every meal (warning: it’s highly addictive). Choose from an array of light pasta dishes, fresh salads, and thin crust pizzas for a classic Italian sort of lunch break.

We recommend: Giuseppe Salad

Luckily for entrepreneurs living in San Luis Obispo, the local eateries offer a diverse, delicious array of meals. Whether an entrepreneur working downtown prefers a lighter lunch, or needs to find the perfect place for a lunch meeting, there is a locally owned establishment in San Luis Obispo awaiting that meets the criteria.

Trying a new place for lunch can be a fun way to break a monotonous routine, so get out of the building and visit a SLO-local establishment during your next lunch break.

Comments are off for this post

What’s in the SLO HotHouse: Incubator Program

By: Lauren Arendt

On any given day, the SLO HotHouse crawls with activity and energy. After walking passed the coworking space in the forefront, visitors come to a vibrant plethora of desks, whiteboards, banners, students and community members, or as the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) calls it, the incubator program.

The CIE  SLO HotHouse Incubator is a two-year, full-time program that includes everything needed for early-stage companies to develop into financially stable, high-growth enterprises by providing the tools needed to facilitate smarter, faster growth. Startups from Cal Poly and the community alike are encouraged to apply for the incubator program.

SLO HotHouse Incubator Program Perks


Every company in the incubator program receives a mentor and advisory board to help out with the difficult decisions and planning that go into the early stages of development. Whether incubators are confronted with legal struggles, financial challenges or other uncertainties, someone in the SLO HotHouse will be able to guide them through.

Furthermore, startups in the incubator program receive exclusive invitations to various entrepreneurial events in the community. These include pitch nights, forums and networking opportunities only accessible through the network provided by the CIE.

SLO HotHouse Resources

Members of the incubator program also have the vast resources of the SLO HotHouse at their disposal. This includes 24/7 office space located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo equipped with multiple conference rooms, a full kitchen, and all of the coffee you can drink.

The SLO HotHouse offers more than office space. It serves as a hub for all entrepreneurial activities at Cal Poly and in the San Luis Obispo community. This creates one-of-a-kind networking opportunities for startups in the incubator program. From monthly peer-to-peer roundtable discussions to an invaluable network of fellow entrepreneurs, Cal Poly professors, esteemed alumni, and more.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying for the CIE SLO HotHouse Incubator program can get more information and find the application at

Comments are off for this post

The 10 Best Weekend Getaways for Entrepreneurs Around San Luis Obispo

By: Lauren Arendt

Everyone loves traveling, adventuring, relaxing and sightseeing, but taking the time off can be daunting. Between school, work and day-to-day responsibilities, finding the time to break routines simply isn’t a possibility for many.

Luckily for entrepreneurs living and working in San Luis Obispo, the central location of the city not only makes it possible to make the most of the weekend without compromising responsibilities but easy too. Whether you can only afford a day trip to relax and unwind, or would rather take a long weekend to go on an adventure, there is a perfect weekend getaway around San Luis Obispo for you. The endless opportunities to break everyday routines without breaking the budget or taking too much time away from the office or studying is one of the many perks of choosing San Luis Obispo to launch a startup.

1.Big Sur

Photo by Tyler Sams

Big Sur is one of the most awe-inspiring coastlines along the Highway 1. The road wraps and winds around sheer cliffs on one side, and lush mountains on the other. The southernmost entrance to Big Sur is only a scenic hour of driving away from Downtown San Luis Obispo. The farther you drive in, the more campsites, day hikes and backpacking trails appear.

The recent landslides made it a little tricker to enjoy Big Sur, but many adventures remain possible. For example, there are sites open to the public at the South entrance of Big Sur directly before the road closure that make for excellent day trips. Salmon Creek, only an hour away from Downtown San Luis Obispo, offers six miles of hiking trails, as well as an impressive 120-foot waterfall only about five minutes from the side of the road. For a long weekend camping trip, it is possible to drive up Highway 101 and access campgrounds via Nacimiento -Ferguson Road.

2. Yosemite National Park

Photo by Lauren Arendt

Everyone knows about Yosemite National Park, but a lot of people don’t realize how close it is to San Luis Obispo. In less than four hours, travelers coming from Downtown San Luis Obispo can make it all the way to the world-renowned National Park to enjoy the awe-inspiring cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife.

With lots of low-cost camping opportunities, endless hiking trails, and climbing walls, and only a $30 entrance fee, Yosemite makes the perfect weekend getaway for anyone with an adventurous spirit.

3. Big Basin State Park

In only three hours, weekend warriors looking to explore the outdoors can make it to the lush Big Basin National Park. Visitors to the park can surround themselves with Red Woods, hunt for banana slugs, and explore more than 80 miles of hiking trails. Big Basin is California’s oldest National Park, offering historic landmarks including redwoods that date back to the Roman Empire.

At only $10 to enter, Big Basin National Park offers an affordable destination to enjoy sightseeing, hiking, backpacking, bicycling and camping, all within the span of a long weekend.

4. Montana de Oro State Park

Photo by Tyler Sams

Lucky for those living in San Luis Obispo, their beautiful home offers many “staycations.” Montana de Oro, renowned by many as the mini-Big Sur, is a coastal State Park located just minutes from Cal Poly campus. Offering a rugged coastline, serene beaches, and miles of hiking trails with views of Morro Bay, MDO makes for the perfect day-trip or camping location for those in San Luis Obispo that want a low-stress weekend getaway.

Entrance to the park, hiking trails, and beaches is free, but make sure to make a reservation in advance to go camping.

5. Oceano Dunes

Photo by Tyler Sams

The Oceano Dunes bring desert action sports to the San Luis Obispo coastline. From motocross to dune buggies, the State Park offers an ecologically and geologically unique playground for off-highway enthusiasts. People from all across the United States visit the Oceano Dunes every year, but luckily for those in San Luis Obispo County, the opportunities for off-roading, surfing, swimming, hiking and more are less than 40 minutes away.

6. Henry Coe State Park

Photo by Lauren Arendt

Dusted with wildflowers in the Spring and home to the largest array of open spaces in a State Park from Northern California, Henry Coe State Park makes for a serene weekend adventure only three hours from San Luis Obispo. The park is known for its varied, rugged and beautiful terrain of lofty ridges and steep canyons.

The rolling, green hills are open year-round to backpackers, hikers, car campers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

7. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Photo by Tyler Sams

With lush forests to explore in the warm months, and rugged, snow-covered winterscapes to snowshoe through in the winter, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks offer dramatic landscapes within three and a half hours of San Luis Obispo.

Whether travelers wish to car camp and day hike or backpack amongst the redwoods, these National Parks are sure to leave any visitor dazzled by the grandeur of the wildlife in the area.  

8. Hearst Castle

Yet another magical staycation is San Luis Obispo County, Hearst Castle offers travelers an opportunity to explore history in one of the most decadent, luxurious homes in the United States. Visitors to Hearst Castle have the opportunity to take tours all throughout the mansion, among the infamous gardens, and learn about the history of the Hearst family and their many heirlooms at every step of the way. In addition to the castle’s beauty, the views of the rolling hills and expansive ocean only add more sensation to the space. Only 45 minutes from the Cal Poly campus, Hearst Castle makes for an excellent day trip weekend getaway.  

9. Wine Tasting

From Paso Robles to Sea Canyon, San Luis Obispo County is home to many state-of-the-art wineries. For those who would rather spend their weekend enjoying the finer things in life than roughing it in the wilderness, wine tasting in SLO-local wineries may be the perfect weekend getaway option. Visit THIS article to create a game plan for visiting all of San Luis Obispo’s greatest wineries in only two days.

10. Avila Hot Springs

Another weekend getaway in San Luis Obispo County to help relax after a stressful work and school week is the Avila Hot Springs. This natural gem-turned-spa allows visitors to soak in the warm, mineral-laden water. Mineral water has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years and is said to be useful for a number of injuries and ailments. Better yet? The Avila Hot Springs are only minutes from the beach. Take a load off and rejuvenate, followed by a relaxing day sunbathing on the soft sands of Avila Beach.

In San Luis Obispo, entrepreneurs find it easy to work hard during the week and play hard during the weekend. With some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world within only a few hours of the town and campus and many opportunities to relax and unwind in the county itself, there is no excuse not to get outside this weekend and every weekend. Let the weekend getaways commence!

If you are interested in starting a business in San Luis Obispo County, learning more about becoming an entrepreneur or just need help with an existing business, find out how the CIE can help you be successful by visiting

Comments are off for this post

Hatchery Spotlight: Lost Coast Surf Tech

By: Lauren Arendt

As many Cal Poly students before him, Shaun Wixted, founder of Lost Coast Surf Tech and South Carolina native, fell in love with the Central Coast after his first visit. After a stint with the military, Wixtead transferred to Cal Poly to pursue a major in aerospace engineering.

His passion for surfing, along with a full immersion into the technological advancements in his field of study, lead him to ask why the sport of surfing had hardly evolved over the past 100 years. He noticed that the shape of surfboards was dictated more by the “feel” of one surfboard over another than anything concrete or quantifiable.

“It’s really funny to see surfing stay very traditional,” Wixted said. “There is really no science behind it. We are going to put the science in surf.”

The Lost Coast Surf Tech team’s first goal will be to redesign the fin of the surfboard in a way that can show buyers exactly what to expect from performance in comparison to leading brands based on hard facts. Wixted explained that surfboard fins are exactly like airfoils in the sense that they have different lift and drag coefficients.   

“Bringing the surfboard to the twenty-first century” is no easy task. The latest advancements in hydraulics and computational fluid dynamics made it possible to provide the depth needed to design surfboards with specific purposes and features backed by data. Wind and water channel testing similar to the testing used for airplanes and yachts can now be applied to surfboards.

The Navier-Stokes equation, an equation in physics that describes the motion of viscous fluids, serves as a key reason why Wixted and team are able to tackle the problem of outdated surfboards at all. It was completed only in the last 10 years to an extent to which surfboards can be optimized.

Wixted and the Lost Coast Surf Tech team pursue their dream of creating the ultimate surfing experience with the help of the Hatchery and mentors. Wixted even lives in the Cal Poly lofts to fully immerse himself in the entrepreneur scene at Cal Poly.

“The network helped me transition from the military to Cal Poly seamlessly,” Wixted said. “I was welcomed with open arms.”

Beyond welcoming him to the campus community, the Hatchery created opportunities for Wixted to acquire valuable tools to use in growing his curiosity into a business idea with real potential to grow.

“Look at the Hatchery, this place we have is absolutely amazing,” Wixted said. “There are opportunities like being able to sit down with mentors from the SLO HotHouse, attend mixers, and meet with alumni.”  

Wixted explained that the mentors from the Hatchery and Aerospace department helped him get through a steep learning curve and build a team of fellow entrepreneurs.

“Mentors showed me that it’s 2018 and anything is possible if you have that little chip on your shoulder that it can happen,” Wixted said. “Hopefully I can give something back in return.”

The Hatchery accepts applications on a rolling basis and can be found in building 2, room 206. Through the combination of mentorship, weekly workshops, startup assignments, and an array of other activities and events, students will gain hands-on experience in launching a company. They will also develop essential entrepreneurial skills in communication, goal setting, and leadership.

What’s in the SLO HotHouse: Coworking Space

By: Lauren Arendt

It may be true that technology empowers individuals to work from just about anywhere, but that does not make all spaces created equal. Working from coffee shops and cafes can be distracting an unsustainable, and traditional office space is expensive, drab and uninspiring.

Luckily, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) crafted the ideal coworking space in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. The SLO HotHouse doors are open to any motivated individuals looking to get some work done in a vibrant, productive and collaborative environment.

Networking Around Every Corner

The community of like-minded, goal-oriented people in the SLO HotHouse coworking space creates endless opportunities to collaborate and network. Odds are, if your startup needs something, a fellow coworker can point you in the right direction.

Many coworkers enjoy the upbeat working environment that manifests when 30 to 40 entrepreneurs come together in one space. The energy and motivation is unmatched by any work space downtown.

Valuable Tools

While the peer network found in the SLO HotHouse coworking space is a valuable tool in itself, many other tools are available in the space.

Several fully equipped conference rooms of different capacities are available to coworkers. This makes it possible to hold private meetings with clients or team members whenever needed.

There is also a phone booth available in the coworking space where private phone calls can be made at any time.

Coworkers also have access to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which offers low to no-cost professional business consulting from industry experts.

Membership Options and Perks

Utilizing this stylish, efficient space couldn’t be easier: space can be rented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis at competitive rates.

Memberships include access to WiFi, educational and social events, conference rooms and meeting spaces, access to the SBDC consultants, a lounge area and kitchen, and all of the coffee you can drink.

Learn more about pricing, schedule a tour, or sign up today by checking out the CIE website.

What’s on Campus: Innovation Sandbox

By: Lauren Arendt

The Innovation Sandbox offers Cal Poly students a shared workspace to experience the most cutting-edge prototyping and ideation tools, explore new subjects, develop technologies and share knowledge with peers. The use of the wide assortment of tools and technologies is included in each and every Cal Poly student’s tuition, making the work space a rare, yet forgiving opportunity to experience world-class equipment.

The learning possibilities provided by the Innovation Sandbox have the potency to benefit various majors from every college at Cal Poly. From state-of-the-art robotics and mechatronics equipment, to virtual reality programs for drawing and sculpting, the opportunities to experiment are truly endless.

The Technology

The technology found at the Innovation Sandbox truly speaks for itself. 3D printing, virtual reality and milling equipment, as well as a general tool box, all contribute to the potential power garnered from the space by those who utilize it.

Three types of 3D printers are available to students at the Innovation Sandbox: Ultimaker 2 Extended+ systems, Kudo3D Titan 2 SLA DLP printers, and Ultimaker 3 Extended systems. These printers aren’t only useful to engineers, but can be utilized in virtually every field. From aerospace to fashion, 3D printing is changing the way people make prototypes.  

All students need in order to complete their first 3D printed project is to provide the Innovation Sandbox with a .stl file along with their name and major–all for free.

Virtual reality serves just as many purposes as 3D printing. Whether interested students want to make use of the relaxing painting programs, improve their reflexes with exciting action games, or simply see what is new with VR, the Innovation Sandbox has it all, again, at no cost to students.

Specific virtual reality equipment offered includes the HTC Vive, Oculus DK2, and the Oculus Rift with controllers.

Milling is yet another resource offered by the Innovation Sandbox allowing students to create prototypes. Students can set out to make anything from circuit boards to props using the Innovation Sandbox’ technology.

The specific equipment available for free to students include an OtherMill prototype circuit board cutter, X-Carve CNC router system for wood, plastic and metal, and Universal Laser system for cutting and engraving custom parts.

The Innovation Sandbox additionally offers solutions for students in need of more “old-school” equipment. The tool bench is a place where students can access a large assortment of more traditional tools, including hammers, saws, fine jewelry files and dremels. The workbench is always open and always free for students to use.

More than Just a Work Space

Student Director Kirby Ransberger believes that the Innovation Sandbox is special for more than the technology it offers: “The Innovation Sandbox is different from every other student organization and club because we serve the students of the university,” Ransberger said.

Student mentors are available to assist peers in putting projects together, working through designs and prototyping faster and more efficiently, as well as to help students experimenting with the equipment to learn from their mistakes sooner. Promoting creativity is at the center of everything that the Innovation Sandbox does.  

Haley Pavone, Founder and CEO of Pashion Footwear utilized the team and tools at the Innovation Sandbox to create the first tangible, working model of her idea for a convertible heel shoe.

“We used the Innovation Sandbox to develop the first ever 3D printed prototype of our innovative high heel design, and do so within a startup budget,” said Pavone. “We were able to work with the knowledgeable Sandbox staff to create a great initial 3D model, iterate it as necessary, and print it to perfection – all for free.”

The Innovation Sandbox allows students to fully embrace the Learn by Doing motto. The resource offers students a chance to not only try new things, but fail with no strings attached. Students interested in trying out the equipment are encouraged to visit the Innovation Sandbox in the Bonderson Project Center (Building 197), Room 205, anytime from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

To learn more about the opportunities on campus to foster innovation, visit, or follow the CIE on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Watch the Video:

What’s on Campus: The Hatchery

By: Lauren Arendt

Any student interested in learning about what it takes to start a business, or even form an idea for a business, is well suited to apply for the Hatchery, the on-campus hub for entrepreneurial-minded students. The Hatchery’s goal is to foster student entrepreneurship initiatives, whether that be forming a peer network, building relationships with CIE faculty, or learning skills essential to success.

Participating in the Hatchery is not limited to the students of the Orfalea College of Business. Rather, students from all walks of life at Cal Poly come together to collaborate and build upon each other’s ideas in the space.

“We have probably every college at Cal Poly represented in the Hatchery,” said Alexa Rozell, Hatchery Director. “Students from all majors are welcome at the Hatchery.”

Once students are admitted into the Hatchery, they receive 24/7 access to the shared workspace located in the Crochett Education Building. In this space, students have the opportunity to build a peer network, collaborate with mentors and attend weekly workshops.

“The Hatchery is a really great place to network with other students, as well as with different CIE faculty,” said Rozell. “Sometimes, we’ll bring in entrepreneurs and residents who talk about their experiences and give advice.”

Weekly startup assignments help entrepreneurial minded students to learn valuable skills in communication, goal-setting and leadership. All of these skills help students cultivate their ideas, as well as prepare them for launching their own companie.

Many of Cal Poly’s most distinguished entrepreneurs got their start at the Hatchery, including Atsa Foods, a current CIE incubating company. Students from various colleges and majors came together to create a cohesive snack food company with a strong social mission. Haley Pavone, Founder and CEO of Pashion Footwear, another current CIE incubating company, also utilized the Hatchery to help launch her business.

Applying to the Hatchery is as simple as filling out a form online and meeting with a faculty advisor to discuss ideas and goals. The advisors will help interested students determine what next steps to take, as well as lend a hand at every stage of the implementation of those steps.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and can be accessed at this LINK. Visit the Hatchery in building 2, room 206 to see future entrepreneurs in action, or visit this LINK to learn about other ways to get involved with the CIE.

1 13 14 15 16 17