SAN LUIS OBISPO — Three student startup teams won from $30,000 in prize money at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) annual Innovation Quest (iQ), a high stakes competition where Cal Poly students pitch their innovative business ideas and prototypes to a panel of judges in hopes of winning thousands to fund their startup.
Manufacturing engineering senior Evan Lalanne from Arroyo Grande won the first place prize of $15,000 with his startup Adapted Mobility. Adapted Mobility is a startup developing compact, capable and intuitive mobility devices from commercially available electric unicycles.
“Winning iQ was awesome,” Lalanne said. It was great to see all of my hard work come together into something I can really be proud of.”
The idea for Adapted Mobility began when Lalanne modified a hoverboard to work with his wheelchair.
Lalanne hopes to file a patent this summer and begin shipping his first production units in 2023.
Biomedical engineering senior McCall Brinskele of Marin County, biomedical engineering junior Sally Thurman of Dallas and business administration seniors Jocelyn Overmyer of Marin County and Kyra Jacks of West Hills won the second place prize of $10,000 with Fem Forward, a startup creating leak-proof period shorts for women to wear when sleeping during their menstrual cycle.
“It felt really great to know that what we are working on is super important not only to us, but others who recognize its importance,” Overmyer said.
Shaun Tanaka, a business administration and interdisciplinary studies senior from Los Angeles, and Dylan DeFazio, a mechanical engineering sophomore from Selinsgrove Pennsylvania, won the third-place prize of $5,000 with their startup, Grip Safe. Grip Safe is developing a patent-pending firearm safety device for AR-15s, which will ensure firearms are secure for storage, legally-compliant transport and safe shoot, all through an interchangeable grip attachment.
“There were so many qualified teams with amazing innovations, and it was a privilege to place among the top few,” Tanaka said. “It was very rewarding to see our team’s hard work and late nights in the Hatchery come to fruition.”
iQ was held in-person for the first time since 2019 on April 20. The event included pitches from 12 finalists, updates from past iQ contestants and the event’s banquet and awards ceremony.
iQ was founded in 2004 by Cal Poly electrical engineering graduates and business leaders Carson Chen, Richard Boberg and Laura Pickering. Since its launch, iQ participants have received more than $400,000 in funding and helped launch several successful businesses.
“iQ was a reminder of just how diverse our polytechnic campus is,” said professor of innovation and entrepreneurship Tom Katona, who coordinated iQ. “We saw student innovations in food products, software, hardware, and services that truly represented the unique and varied culture and disciplines found on our campus.”
In addition to the three winners, the 2022 finalists included:
Apogee Tech, a spacecraft assembly documentation system with automatic configuration tracking features created by aerospace engineering senior Jered Bell and electrical engineering junior Mark Wu.
Armadillo Designs, an aftermarket truck accessories company designing a customizable shell for the bed of a pickup truck, founded by manufacturing engineering senior Sam Hunt and recent business administration alumnus Fabian Araujo.
Better Berry, a startup using technology that reduces the amount of water, waste, transportation and labor needed to grow strawberries to provide high-quality, locally-grown berries to communities that do not have adequate climates for farming. The startup was founded by business administration senior Corrine Cooper and mechanical engineering seniors Brandon Janney and Shalin Gogri.
Forever Fresh, a startup building tools to standardize quality assessment and reduce waste in the produce supply chain, created by liberal arts and engineering senior Avi Peltz and computer science major Nate Holland.
Home Greens, a startup delivering healthy greens directly to consumers’ homes or businesses, founded by public health major Ethan Tse and accounting sophomore Javier Emmanuel Rivera-Romo.
HydroScoops, an ice cream product infused with electrolytes to create a fun method of hydration, created by agriculture science senior Kiara Benavides, agribusiness major Cameron Kemper and agribusiness juniors Andrew Arroyo and Shelby Daniele.
OdinXR, a startup developing a virtual-reality (VR) landscape where students with disabilities can remotely perform engineering labs, created by electrical engineering seniors Tessa Luzuriaga and Ruben Curiel, business administration senior Ryan Gudmunds, computer engineering senior Christian Bloemhof, electrical engineering student Kyle Reis and computer science student Russell Siu.
Polypie, an Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AI SaaS) platform helping businesses implement contextual chatbots and create personalized user experiences at scale, created by Cal Poly Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Science in Computer Science graduate Jenny Wang and computer science junior Micha Wibowo.
Ponderose Design, a startup pioneering the intersection of design and 3D-printing to provide elegant and sustainable lighting, founded by Master’s of Science in Packaging Value Chain students Nate Pratt and Peter Moe-Lange, industrial technology and packaging major Puneet Mahesha and recent environmental horticulture graduate Eden Breazeale.
About the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
The CIE opens a world of entrepreneurial opportunities to Cal Poly students, faculty and community members and promotes entrepreneurial activity and dialogue across the university and throughout San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit https://calpolycie.wpengine.com/.
About the SLO HotHouse:
The HotHouse is a community space for Cal Poly for Center and Innovation Entrepreneurship off-campus programs created through the efforts of Cal Poly, the city and county of San Luis Obispo, the business community and the CIE. The goal of the HotHouse is to support students and community members as they work to create new innovations and start business ventures. For more information, visit https://calpolycie.wpengine.com/hothouse.