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Meet a Hatchery Startup | Intego Sports

Whether it’s 7 a.m. or midnight, the Intego Sports team can usually be found in the Hatchery. From Elevator Pitch Competition and Startup Marathon, to now being part of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) on-campus incubator, Intego Sports CEO Alexandra Joelson is on a path to turn her innovative footwear idea into a viable company. 

“The top and bottom of cleats deteriorate at different rates,” she explained. “We are creating cleats with interchangeable soles, so you can just replace the part that wears down instead of buying a whole new pair of cleats.”

Joelson, a first-year business administration major, came to Cal Poly already passionate about solving this problem of quickly-deteriorating athletic footwear.

However, the San Diego native and her team didn’t make this idea come alive overnight. Joelson first took a slightly different idea she had started in high school to the Elevator Pitch Competition, winning the $1,000 prize. She then took her idea to Cal Poly Entrepreneurs’ Startup Marathon, where the all-freshman Intego Sports team was formed.

“There seemed to be a lot of traction for it and people seemed to like the idea, so I got involved in the CIE,” Joelson said of her original idea. “After talking to all of the advisors [in the Hatchery], we came up with a better solution and since me and part of my team play soccer, it was something we were all passionate about. We really want this problem to be solved.”

Joelson stressed how important it is to have a team of people with a common goal but diverse perspectives, even if that poses challenges. 

Intego Sports consists of a business student, aerospace engineer, electrical engineer and a physics major, so their thought processes often differ. However, Joelson says having different minds come together is what helps them progress and grow.

“I think the biggest thing is making sure you’re solving the right problem and then making sure you have the right people to help you do it,” she explained. “As a CEO, I’ve been trying to make sure everyone is motivated and the advisors put us on the right path to get us to the right goals.”

Now that the Intego Sports team has come together and established their place in the Hatchery among several other student startups, what’s in store for them?

First, prototyping at the CIE’s on-campus Innovation Sandbox and filing for a provisional patent. 

Then the team has plans to compete in Innovation Quest to win from $30,000 in cash prizes to help fund their startup, as well as apply for the HotHouse Summer Accelerator. Basically, Joelson and her team are ready to launch their business as soon as possible.

“We’d love to have inventory in our dorm rooms and be running a company out of yakʔitʸutʸu,” she joked. “But we’re all living in the [Cal Poly] Lofts next year as well. We all want to live together and take the company off the ground so we can be college grads with an income. That would be fantastic.”

Until all these future plans come together, though, the team is soaking up every moment in the Hatchery by taking advantage of their access to industry professionals, experienced entrepreneurial advisors and an inspiring community.

“Most people don’t have advice and advisors like this. Either you have to pay someone to do it or do a ton of research to find someone you actually trust, but everyone here truly cares about us and our success,” Joelson explained. “I get to meet a lot of great people and it’s a great place to work and a great environment.” 

Joelson says that anyone with an entrepreneurial aspiration should apply to the Hatchery program because there aren’t any downfalls — just tons of resources and support in a program she dubs “the entrepreneurship hub.”

To stay updated on Intego Sport’s progress, visit https://www.integosports.com/ or find them on Instagram at @integosports. If you’re ready to get after your startup goals and learn more about the program, visit https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Graphic Communicator’s Perspective

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.

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The Making of a CIE Donor: Russ Nash

In 1982, Russ Nash graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Business Administration, leaving with the dreams that everyone at the time had: working for a big firm. Nash successfully landed that dream job and began working for a Fortune Top 20 company.

Flash forward a few years, though, and Nash decided to walk away from that company and build his own. In the past 32 years of working for himself, not only has he done so with great enthusiasm, but also with great impact on fellow entrepreneurs at his alma mater.

“I got involved with the CIE from the very beginning. Jon York and Lou Tornatzky had a vision to start the CIE and they got a hold of a friend of mine, Jeff Witous,” Nash said. “He called about 20 of his friends and said ‘Hey, we need to get together and hear these professors out,’ and from that point they basically said ‘If you guys believe in the vision, we need a commitment of time and we need money now.’ So, I got involved in that on day one.”

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was founded 10 years ago, but Nash’s years of experience before that was valuable for his program involvement. 

Nash’s specialty since becoming self-employed is in small businesses, which he had previously done mentoring for on a small-scale basis. He also has a strong passion for public education, specifically for Cal Poly, and had spent time working with his children’s school board. When Nash took on his CIE role, not only was he well-prepared to help student entrepreneurs, he was thrilled to do so.

“My favorite part of working with student entrepreneurs is the level of excitement,” he explained. “They are so fired up and so excited that it’s contagious. It’s just really something special.”

Along with his mentorship and guidance of these young innovators, his support has also come in the form of financial aid.

“Investing in the startups is a combination of a gamble and a passion, and the hope is that at some point in time one or two out of 10 will actually make some money,” Nash said. “But initially, the real goal at this level of [CIE] startups is to help the program go forward.”

Nash notes that had the CIE been around when he was a student, it would have made his self-employment career easier; however, there really wasn’t a market for such a program at the time.

“When I left school, the bottom line was that you had to leave San Luis Obispo because there were no jobs here. You went north or you went south,” Nash explained. “Now there’s enough infrastructure in town to start and grow a large business, and this is a place people dream about living, so it’s a very nice place to do it.”

Luckily, people like Nash helped the CIE grow, allowing countless students to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams through mentorship, access to investors and other entrepreneurs, as well as tangible resources to launch them forward.

Over the past 10 years of Nash’s support, not only has the CIE gained a lot from him, but he, too, has gained a lot from the experience. One thing he learned is the value in giving back.

“I think alumni should follow in my footsteps of supporting Cal Poly in general. They should find their niche in what they can get involved with–and we should give back to the future generation,” Nash prompted. “Getting involved in the CIE just happens to be in my wheelhouse. I enjoy it and others should do that, too, if that’s their expertise.”

That’s the advice Nash has for his fellow Cal Poly alumni, but what is his go-to advice for the students he mentors? It’s to take advantage of the human capital around them.

“What I would say to a young entrepreneur who is just starting to build their company is to look around at all the people throughout the CIE, the older teams and the volunteers who come back, and ask and ask and ask more questions,” Nash said. “Starting a business from scratch is difficult, but that’s okay. You just need to know what you’re getting into.”

If you are ready to get involved with the CIE and make an impact on entrepreneurship and innovation like Nash, consider donating to the program, becoming a mentor or joining our Founder’s Circle today.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Manufacturing Engineer’s Perspective

For many entrepreneurs, knowing how to run a business isn’t what they learn in class. Sometimes entrepreneurs are the ones with the manufacturing ability. That’s the way CEO and co-founder of Armadillo Designs, Sam Hunt, sees it.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been a tinkerer and loved to create things,” Hunt said. “Here at Cal Poly, I was able to learn how to really take that to the next level and turn that into a company or just a product that people could really benefit from.”

Now a third-year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Hunt is studying manufacturing engineering while growing his startup with co-founder Fabian Araujo in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) HotHouse Incubator. While he’s pursuing his degree and his company, he is also working to refine his CEO skills.

“I definitely don’t have a business mindset or business background,” he explained. “I have been working to develop entrepreneurship as a mindset and to understand the business behind what we’re doing, and I’ve been able to do that through the CIE and the Cal Poly programs.”

As the engineer of the company, Hunt wants to make sure he still understands the how-to when it comes to running the business. However, he knows there’s value in the specialized manufacturing knowledge he offers to Armadillo Designs.

“Having a diverse team is definitely something super crucial to growing a company,” he explained. “A lot of times you’re told as an entrepreneur that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.’ The idea there is that you can create whatever you want, but you’ll need a team to do it because you can’t always focus on all sides of a company.”

Building interdisciplinary teams is something that the CIE encourages, always looking for students from any major to join programs such as the on-campus Hatchery program. Like Hunt believes, entrepreneurship is not just for business majors. Instead, entrepreneurship is for the people with the will to make an innovative dream a successful reality.

“What defines an entrepreneur is the ability to get after what you’re interested in and bring an idea to life,” Hunt said. “I think anyone can do that. Everyone has ideas and so really it comes down to you. If you have the drive to get after what you want, then CIE is here to support you.”

Hunt also stresses that there is no negative side to building an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of where you decide to take your skills post-grad. He says that even if his future doesn’t involve working for his own company, he knows he can be of value anywhere by bringing entrepreneurial knowledge and thinking to the job.

Because the entrepreneurial mindset is applicable in all fields of work, anyone can benefit by learning how to think like an entrepreneur. When more people adopt that critical thinking, problem-solving and determined mindset, innovative ideas can begin spurring from a more diverse set of minds.

“The great thing about entrepreneurship is that it’s really open to anybody regardless of their background or major,” Hunt said. “So, if you have a big idea or even a small idea that you’re passionate about getting after, I really encourage it.”

Basically, he, along with the CIE, wants to make sure that anyone with a great idea and motivation to do something big feel supported to go after their dreams.

As Hunt says, “The world has many problems and as an entrepreneur you can be the one who solves them.”

If you are ready to solve a problem with your innovative ideas in an energetic and flexible environment, head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/. Let the CIE help you think like an entrepreneur so you can take your ideas to the next level.

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Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset: An Intrapreneur’s Journey

The entrepreneurial mindset is about a certain way of thinking — it is about the way in which you approach challenges and mistakes. It is about an inherent drive to improve your skill set and to try and try again.  

But why is this important? The entrepreneurial mindset is what you need to propel yourself forward in building a professional career, even if you’re not aiming to become a business owner in the near future. It can help you become more resourceful, flexible and ready to adapt, regardless of what the current situation is like.

For students like fourth-year computer science major Josiah Pang, that’s what taking on Cal Poly’s entrepreneurship minor is all about.

“I knew that coming out of Cal Poly with a degree in computer science would set me up for success technically, but I think there’s a lot of aspects of a job that aren’t covered by pure technical knowledge,” Pang explained. “I kind of view computer science as a square and the [entrepreneurship] minor is what rounds me out into a circle.”

As Pang believes, entrepreneurship isn’t just for the business student looking to create a startup. Rather, studying entrepreneurship can set anyone up for professional success in all fields.

“No matter what role you’re in, you’re going to be interfacing as a component of a larger structure and understanding that larger structure would never put you at a disadvantage,” he said. “It’s good to understand the entrepreneurial mindset because it gives you more context and I think context is what sets you up for even more success in your role.”

When Pang talks about gaining context through the entrepreneurial mindset, he means having the ability to look at the larger, societal picture and utilize that knowledge to innovate for a company in a meaningful way.

His goal with entrepreneurship has been to develop a mindset that makes him a vital asset to the organization he goes on to work for post-grad. By taking courses like design thinking and interdisciplinary senior project for his minor, Pang has gained experience in critical thinking and working with all types of minds.

“It’s interesting to see how through different majors and disciplines, even though we’re all Cal Poly students, the way in which we’ve been trained is very different,” he said of his senior project team. “To have all of these different perspectives and mindsets in the same room working together 100 percent translates into the workplace.”

But can’t you gain this type of knowledge through other areas of study? 

Not necessarily. When it comes to learning the entrepreneurial mindset, there’s a lot that you would miss out on in other fields. Entrepreneurship ties in business, design, risk-taking, management, empathy, leadership skills, failure-understanding and more. Plus, utilizing the mindset to be an intrapreneur doesn’t leave graduates at a corporate roadblock.

“‘Intrapreneur’ is the word I would use to describe myself; someone who has an entrepreneurial mindset within a larger organization and can tie in new ideas and innovate existing features, but not necessarily start something from the ground up,” Pang explained. “But [starting a business] could be something I want to do later, once I have the experience and the resources that you get from a bigger network and a bigger company.”

Whether your plan is to dive headfirst into your fresh business venture or apply to several established companies, having an entrepreneurial mindset can only advance your opportunity-seeking, problem-solving and innovative success.

Head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/ or https://www.cob.calpoly.edu/undergrad/entrepreneurship-minor/ to start cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset now.

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What iQ Can Do for You

Each year, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship holds Innovation Quest (iQ), a competition for students to pitch their product ideas to judges and investors in hopes of winning thousands of dollars in cold hard cash.

Since it is one of the more demanding competitions that the CIE offers, students may fear investing their time and energy only to not win in the end. However, past competitors say the value of Innovation Quest isn’t all in the money, but rather it’s in the process of competing.

Sam Hunt, CEO and co-founder of incubator company Armadillo Designs, knows that there’s still much to be gained even if you don’t take home the prize.

“My co-founder and I pitched our idea in Innovation Quest last spring,” he said. “We actually didn’t end up winning that year, but it was still a super valuable experience because we learned how to really craft a pitch in a short amount of time, how to display our product and how not to display it.”

Each student or team in iQ gets the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas from judge and investor feedback, ultimately gaining them the knowledge needed to perfect their pitches and products to find out what they’re lacking and if their idea could be a viable product.

CEO and co-founder of De Oro Devices, Sidney Collin, came out of the competition with a takeaway similar to Hunt’s.

“Any student that’s thinking about starting their own company should definitely apply to Innovation Quest because it allows you to really think through the business strategy,” Collin said. “Even if you don’t win, it’s a really valuable experience to show what needs to be worked on in the company to be able to pursue it further.”

Although winning is not the only source of value for competitors, ending the process with a check can be a game-changer for many. 

Past iQ winner Chad Kihm, CEO of GamerSpeak, says the competition is the reason he is a CEO today, as winning the $10,000 second place prize gave him the confidence and finances he needed to pursue his startup idea further. While Kihm says he understands that people might question if competing is worth it, he encourages them to at least try.

“I like to tell people who are thinking about Innovation Quest and are trying to decide how much they should really invest in this sort of competition to think about how long it would take them to make $10,000 working at $15 an hour,” Kihm explained. “If you put at least half as much effort as that into winning it, you’ll probably win the money, and much faster, too.”

Another winning innovation, Flume, went from being a senior project to a growing incubator company thanks to their iQ involvement. The company’s CEO and co-founder Eric Adler says that iQ was the first program the founders took Flume into and that winning the competition lead them to the HotHouse Accelerator and Incubator programs. He also said that any startup will have several pivots in their business plan and that iQ allowed the Flume team to move in the right direction early on.

“Any time you go apply for a program like Innovation Quest where you talk to investors or meet with advisors, you’re constantly getting feedback,” he explained. “You have people with a lot of expertise giving you feedback and you can take that to potentially change what you’re doing.”

Between critical feedback, pitch experience, momentum, confidence boosts and  money, Innovation Quest can do a lot for students looking to pursue their startup ideas. Like Kihm believes, time spent competing in Innovation Quest, regardless of outcome, is never wasted and is worth the potential knowledge and money gain.

Adler even sees a big-picture reason for competing in Innovation Quest.

“If you have a passion for trying something on your own, starting your own company, not working for the man,” Adler started. “it’s great to take an idea and see if you’re really making something innovative that can change the world.”

If you have an innovation that could help change the world, let Innovation Quest help change your world through guidance, support and maybe even financial support. Head to https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/innovation-quest/ for more information on how to get involved.

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Entrepreneurship for All: The Architect’s Perspective

Jess Corr is the Chief Operations Officer of Ethic, but she’s better known as “The Architect” within her team. This is the tile she gained by being an architecture major, one area of study that is often overlooked in the startup world. 

“I really love architecture, I’m passionate about real estate and property, and I’m also super passionate about entrepreneurship,” said Corr.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, people tend to assume it’s a career reserved for business or engineering students. What they overlook is the fact that startups need teams of diverse backgrounds in order to find entrepreneurial success. Corr says that she has even learned the most important lessons and tips from entrepreneurs of unexpected majors.

She believes that it’s not what you study that makes you an entrepreneur, but rather it’s about passion, drive and putting your area of study to use in the startup setting.

“Architecture has had a huge role in helping me figure out who I am in regards to entrepreneurship,” she explained. “We do a lot of group projects in architecture, we have a lot of late nights, we’re constantly kind of collaborating with other people. I slowly started to realize what I enjoyed the most was collaborating with others and leading projects.”

Corr recognizes that being an entrepreneur, especially while in college can be challenging. However, she also notes that there are benefits to match the struggles.

“It’s definitely a juggle, being a student and entrepreneur, but I think that’s kind of what makes my day really exciting,” she said. “You’re getting new challenges thrown at you all the time which is exhausting and stressful, but also really fun, and you know that you’re constantly growing into the kind of person that you want to be.”

What surprised her the most, though, is the fact that her entrepreneurial spirit came out almost unexpectedly. Corr says she went on a whim to the 2018 Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Startup Weekend, now known as Startup Marathon, where Ethic co-founder Garret Perkins pitched the idea for a sustainable shopping platform.

“I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I didn’t really know it,” Corr began. “I heard about Ethic and just felt really connected to the vision and the passion that the people involved had for it. When I joined the team, I was like, ‘Whoa, this world’s for me.’”

Since then, the duo has taken their startup through the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Hatchery and HotHouse Accelerator programs. Now, Ethic is a HotHouse Incubator company, officially launched with a running site full of ethical and sustainable-focused products for sale. 

“As being one of the youngest people, one of the only females and being an architecture major having no business background, I definitely felt somewhat intimidated going into it,” Corr said of her entrepreneurship experience. “It was just really nice to have different mentors within the CIE and all of the introductions they made for us, allowing me to have different people to go to when I was unsure about something within our own business.”

Corr sees entering the entrepreneurial world as a valuable experience, even if her pursuits will change in the future.

“I want to be doing something that I love everyday and I know that’s going to involve entrepreneurship in some way, whether it’s in architecture, real estate, Ethic or something completely different,” she said. “If you have a passion for something, you need to put it somewhere and let other people share in that.”

If you have a passion for something innovative, but never thought it was your place to pursue it, find out how you can make your dream business happen through the CIE’s Hatchery program at https://cie.calpoly.edu/prepare/hatchery/. Not the right program for you? Contact us and we’ll help you find your best fit for success.

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Meet a CIE Incubator | Board Game Atlas

Trent Ellingsen, the CEO and co-founder of Atlas Alpha Inc., has created Board Game Atlas, a website that gives people all of the information they could need about board gaming.

“There are 37,000 board games on the site,” Ellingsen said. “You can find out all the information about them, like how many players they allow, how long the game takes, the description, user reviews, videos and the best prices.”

To begin the process of growing his company, Ellingsen joined the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Incubator program in November of 2018. His site initially had about 80 users at the time of its beta launch; now, after over a year in the incubator program and with the acquisition of a competitor, Board Game Atlas has about 54,000 users. 

Although he is a Cal Poly alumni, Ellingsen didn’t join the incubator program until years after graduating. In fact, he found the CIE through the power of networking.

“I found the incubator program, not because I had known about the HotHouse when I went to Cal Poly, but because a member of the HotHouse contacted me about working for his company,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in his company, but about a year later when I started my own, I remembered that it existed, so I applied and got in.”

For Ellingsen, connections are what got him to the incubator, and connections are a big part of why he’s loved working in the HotHouse.

“I think the best part of the incubator program are just the interactions with everybody,” he explained. “There’s different companies working on different things and at different stages, so it’s motivating. [It] makes me feel like I’m not coming to work by myself and on my own thing, but that I’m part of a bigger community and that I can grow friendships and relationships with the people around me.”

Not only has Ellingsen been able to grow his network since starting his startup journey in the incubator program, but the company itself has grown in size and success. 

By buying out a competing board game-centered site, he was able to add in more content to Board Game Atlas, grow the site’s user base and increase revenue. After taking on his company alone for some time, his team now consists of a co-founder and two part-time contractors.

While Ellingsen puts in the hard work to run his business, he credits some success to the CIE’s mentorship and consulting, as well as to the support of the San Luis Obispo community.

“If there’s a startup that’s wanting to get involved in the CIE, whatever stage you’re at, I think it’s definitely worth doing,” he said. “I think it’s worth building something here with different people who are starting companies. The community and the HotHouse are really supportive and it is a great way to get consultants and other advice in how to grow a company.”

If you’re feeling like it’s time to take advantage of all of the business services that the CIE HotHouse Incubator offers, why wait to apply. Start the journey to launching your best business at https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/.

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CIE Graduates Keeping it SLOcal: Kick-it Points

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/.

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The 5 Best Coffee Meeting Spots in SLO

Every entrepreneur knows the value of a coffee meeting for casual networking and building relationships. Just as valuable is the decision you make about where to have your coffee meetings. Luckily, many of San Luis Obispo’s local coffee shops offer an entrepreneurial and community-based spirit of their own. Here are the five best places to grab a latte and chat with fellow entrepreneurs, clients, investors and more. 

Scout Coffee Co. 

 

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As Scout’s owners Jon and Sara Peterson explain it, “Our goal has always been to create inspiring spaces, with great people and amazing products, in a way that truly adds value to the community around us.” The focus that Scout has on community, which includes their fellow entrepreneurs like you, is evident upon arrival to either of the shop’s two locations. The baristas at Scout are upbeat and helpful, making any customer feel welcomed. As for location, while their downtown spot is in the hustle and bustle of the SLOcal life, Scout’s Foothill Boulevard location offers storefront parking, natural light, more space and more seating for your coffee meetings. With indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a vibrant atmosphere, Scout is perfect for meeting clients you know would appreciate a simple, fresh ambiance. The only downside is the lack of outlets in Scout’s locations, making it difficult if you need extended access to technology.

 

Kreuzberg California 

 

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Kreuzberg, a coffee shop and lounge inspired by the German neighborhood of the same name, bases itself “in the creativity-boosting and community building power of coffee, food, beer, wine, cocktails, strong wifi, lots of outlets, cozy seats, and an inspiring atmosphere to enjoy it in,” according to the shop’s website. Basically, Kreuzberg has it all. What makes this downtown San Luis Obispo shop perfect for coffee meetings is that it is open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., giving you freedom of scheduling time and the ability to turn your coffee meeting into cocktail hour. Plus, there’s lounge chairs, an upstairs area, bar seating, small and large tables, and two secluded sidecar-style seating areas, allowing you to accommodate for any seating preferences. The only real cautionary tip about Kreuzberg is that it is eclectic and darker in lighting, so it may not cater well to meetings where you’re looking for a modern, bright atmosphere.

 

Libertine Coffee Bar 

 

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Libertine Brewing Company is no longer just for beer, now they have expanded into the type of brew you need for your morning meeting: coffee. Located right next to its downtown restaurant, Libertine Coffee Bar offers local coffee and food, as well as whole leaf tea. As described on its website, Libertine Coffee Bar has “Warm vibes and street side relaxing in downtown SLO,” making it a great choice for a mellow coffee meeting. The shop is simple and bright, but it does have a limited amount of seating to take note of in case you’re looking to meet with multiple people. However, the intimate seating of the shop can allow you to have a conversation without several other voices looming in the background.

 

Lucy’s Coffee Co. 

 

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The owner of Lucy’s Coffee Co. says that her shop is “a place that contributes to making the world better through community and yummy coffee,” extending the reach of San Luis Obispo’s entrepreneurial community all the way out to Laurel Lane. Lucy’s is the only coffee shop on our list without a downtown spot, giving you uniqueness of location. It also offers close parking, an open atmosphere and an old-fashioned aesthetic. Additionally, Lucy’s offers an array of drinks as well as food items, a benefit when your coffee meeting turns into lunch. While these qualities make it a nice place to escape the noise of downtown and network, you might want to opt for another shop if you are looking to meet with people who are already going to be in the downtown area of San Luis Obispo. 

 

BlackHorse Espresso and Bakery

 

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With four locations, BlackHorse takes first place for leeway of location. As the coffee shop’s website says, “If you are lucky enough to be in San Luis Obispo, there’s a BlackHorse near you.” This rings true, but if you’re looking for the best of BlackHorse for your networking meetings, the Los Osos Valley Road locations may serve you best. This specific shop has greater sitting room than others, making it a more relaxed and casual spot to grab a cup of coffee and talk business. Not to mention, the coffee shop states that it was “born out of an idea that coffee and community go together” on its website. BlackHorse is what you would expect out of any simple and down-to-earth coffee shop that has the sole purpose of giving people a space to enjoy good coffee and a great community. Be cautious of timing, though, as this location closes at 3:00 p.m., two to three hours earlier than all of the other BlackHorse spots.

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