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CIE Incubator Company Kick-it Points provides local deals for exploring SLO County

By Dylan Grant

Brett Foreman created a mobile app that offers rewards for being real-world social. CIE Incubator Company Kick-it Points allows users to claim deals from local businesses for engaging in activities exclusive to San Luis Obispo.

Trekking up Bishop Peak, taking a jaunt through Avila Beach or hunkering down to study in Kennedy Library can unlock various rewards and discounts from San Luis Obispo vendors. Users can download the Kick-it Points app for free on the App Store and scroll through an interactive map to find prime deals and activities. After paying a visit to select Kick-it locations, they can then redeem premium discounts from local favorites such as Woodstock’s Pizza, House of Bagels, Frog & Peach and Bull’s Tavern.

While Kick-it Points provides great options for those operating on a budget, the app also offers local businesses a unique opportunity to connect with consumers.

“One of our vendors actually just reached out to me saying that he would like me to move the structure of his deal to a different location in the real world,” Foreman said. “He was actually getting too much traffic.”

Foreman hopes to bring people together by motivating app users to engage with their community. Plans for future development include automating his app to make it easier for business owners to become Kick-it Points merchants. Such advancements could soon spur Kick-it Points rewards in both Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

“Being in the incubator has been a wonderful experience,” Foreman said, comparing the HotHouse to a human Google. “It’s helped my company grow immensely.”

The HotHouse provides the resources and mentorship needed to launch a startup. Join a community of entrepreneurs and apply to be a HotHouse incubator. https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/

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20 Things to Do in SLO for $20 or under

By Dylan Grant

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

SLO County Farmers Market

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

Concerts in the Plaza

Calling all music lovers! Concerts in the Plaza are officially in session every Friday outside the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolsa from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Genres range from Vintage Blues to Gypsy Folk Rock. All ages are welcome, but those 21 and over can fill up a commemorative Concerts in the Plaza pint for $10.

Tour Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa

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

Morro Bay Skateboard Museum

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

Sunset Drive-In

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

Art After Dark

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

Central Coast Kayak Rental

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

Full Day Surfboard Rentals

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

Morro Bay Stand Up Paddle Boarding

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

The Central Coast Aquarium in Avila

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

Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero

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

Moonstone Hunting

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

Morro Bay Harbor Cruise

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

Piedras Blancas Light Station

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

Avila Ridge Hike

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

The Pad Climbing Gym

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

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

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

Avila Valley Barn

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

Chase a Waterfall

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

Oceano Beach Bonfires

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

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

 

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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.