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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

Road trippin’ w Mom

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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.

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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 https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/.

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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 www.cie.calpoly.edu, or follow the CIE on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Become a CIE Mentor Today

Here at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), we do a lot of work with teams and companies to help get their venture off the ground. This work includes on-campus programming in The Hatchery, the Summer Accelerator and the two-year Incubator. The cornerstone to all of our programs is mentorship.

We have over 140 mentors working with the CIE who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to all of our teams and companies. The CIE mentor program includes entrepreneurs from high tech, venture capital, big retail, niche products and more. From San Luis Obispo, Bay Area, Los Angeles and out of state, we have mentors who provide guidance for multiple business types and help young entrepreneurs build, grow and sustain their businesses.

During the past Summer Accelerator, we had over 30 mentors come through the building to host workshops, meet with teams’ one-on-one and lead round table discussions. In addition to this, each of the eight teams had a Lead Mentor who met with them every week as they set milestones, worked through issues and grew their business.

Our amazing mentors make it possible for the CIE to provide a wide range of resources to teams and companies. We are so grateful for all of the time each mentor has given to the program, and look forward to the future!

If you, or someone you know is interested in mentorship, please fill out an application here.

CIE Welcomes Four Professors to the Faculty Fellows program

Four professors were named to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship‘s (CIE) Faculty Fellows program. Lynne Slivovsky, electrical engineering, David Askay, communication studies, Taryn Stanko, management, and Graham Doig, aerospace, join the multidisciplinary cohort in preparing students to become emerging entrepreneurial leaders. The fellows will help to raise awareness of CIE programs and provide guidance to students and faculty with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Communication Studies Professor, Askay, applied to the CIE Faculty Fellows program because it provides him with the support to create a program that can harness local expertise to better address global problems.   Askay wanted to be part of something that allowed faculty, staff and students to collaborate and have the opportunity to make a difference.  He will create an OpenIDEO chapter on campus, with the goal of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation focused on societal and environmental challenges.

Aerospace Professor, Dr. Doig, started the Prototype Vehicles Lab (PROVE Lab) to be a project-based organization where students can design and build unique, technology-demonstrator vehicles to break world records.  The fellows’ program allows him to take these plans for PROVE to the next level and help the students really go to town on their innovative ideas with the right support and mentoring.  Dr. Doig sees the Faculty Fellows program as a great investment of time and effort.

“These blazing-bright minds are going to go out there and do stuff we haven’t even thought of yet, a group of battle-hardened world-changers,” said Doig. “ Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Cal Poly entrepreneurs’ energy, enthusiasm, and passion made Professor Taryn Stanko interested in the CIE Faculty Fellows program.

“These students left a deep impression on me and made her excited about the entrepreneurial efforts going on at the SLO HotHouse,” Stanko said.

Professor Stanko is currently developing a new course, “Negotiation for Entrepreneurs”, which will focus almost exclusively on the unique issues facing founders of young companies.  She believes that negotiation is a critical tool for entrepreneurs who must negotiate with stakeholders on issues that are fundamental to the success of their new companies.

Electrical Engineering Professor, Lynne Slivovsky, is focusing her project on human-centered innovation and design. She is interested in computer vision and pattern recognition, human computer interaction, haptics, robotics and digital system design.  Slivovsky will help in inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

These four fellows are part of the 2016-2017 class of CIE Faculty Fellows.  They are joining fellows Enrica Costello, art and design; Bob Crockett, biomedical engineering; Dale Dolan, Electrical Engineering; Lorraine Donegan, graphic communication; Charmaine Farber, graphic communication; Mary Glick, journalism; Brian Granger, physics; David Janzen, computer science; Lynn Metcalf, marketing; Clare Olsen, architecture; Christiane Schroeter, agricultural business; and Umut Toker, architecture.