Cal Poly Students Win $1,500 in Cash Prizes for Their Innovative Ideas at 14th Annual Elevator Pitch Competition

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly freshman won the top prize at Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) 14th annual Elevator Pitch Competition, a fast-paced, high-energy competition for student entrepreneurs, held Nov. 7 at the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo.

Ten finalists, selected from dozens of applicants, had 90 seconds each to pitch their innovative products, services and startup ideas. They were evaluated by a panel of judges on four criteria: how well was the problem or opportunity explained; was the idea innovative; was the direction clear; and was the pitch persuasive.

Material engineering freshman Erin Wang of Irvine, California, received the $1,000 first-place prize with her pitch for Intelladaptive Jacket, an active, self-regulating temperature jacket that uses sensors and a removable, rechargeable battery to adjust to the user’s temperature.

“I’m so grateful and super excited,” Wang said. “I’m just a freshman so I wasn’t expecting a ton out of it, but I’m so glad I was able to be here.”

Marley Timmerman of Huntington Beach, California, an electrical engineering senior with a minor in entrepreneurship, received the $500 audience choice award.

Her pitch for Bike Knight impressed the crowd. Bike Knight is a secondary electronic e-bike lock that pairs with your existing metal lock, combining electronics with physical strength, to create the maximum bike security system.

“I think it’s awesome that I won the Audience Choice Award,” Timmerman said. “This means that people in the audience had their bike stolen and really want something like this — there’s real interest.”

This year’s judges included: Cal Poly Associate Professor Erik Sapper, the faculty innovation lead for the Bailey College of Science and Mathematics; Lynn Metcalf, professor emeritus of entrepreneurship, who recently retired after 35 years at Cal Poly; and Penny Lane Case, co-founder and CEO of Nexstera Tech, and a Cal Poly alumna, who graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in business administration degree and concentration in entrepreneurship.

Other Elevator Pitch Competition finalists included:

— Sun-Tractable Shield, a windshield sunshade that hooks onto the dashboard when in use and retracts into a case when not in use, pitched by theater arts freshman Laurel Desilets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

— Fit Friends, a service that lets users connect with other members at their gym to find workout partners, pitched by computer science senior Joseph Hammana of Santa Cruz, California.

— Quick Shield, a bulk sunscreen dispenser service that provides athletes easy access to sunscreen to prevent sunburn and skin cancer, pitched by electrical engineering fifth-year Dan Murphy of Wayne, New Jersey.

— Virtuosos, a unique rhythm game that empowers music creators to collaborate, showcase their work and transform their compositions into immersive in-game experiences, pitched by computer science graduate student Lucas Li of Morgan Hill, California.

— Fermy Foods, a fermented baby foods company specifically targeted to kids, pitched by William Dietz, a business administration senior concentrating in real estate finance and minoring in real estate property development. Dietz is from Batavia, Illinois.

— Hobby Hub, a platform where you can choose from a wide variety of hobbies and join a hobby group where you can meet like-minded people starting this hobby as well, pitched by industrial technology and packaging senior Greta Peacock of Towson, Maryland.

— ClassMate AI, software that turns professor lectures into unique chatbots for every class, allowing students to easily ask questions and get answers, ensuring a personalized and accessible learning assistant is always available, pitched by computer science junior Raja Adil of Sacramento, California.

— Conspire Commerce, an innovative e-commerce group shopping solution that  provides chat, call and shared cart functionality, along with split-payment options, offering a convenient and collaborative way to shop together online, pitched by Richard Tanaka of San Marcos, California. Tanaka is a business administration senior concentrating in information systems.

To watch this year’s Elevator Pitch Competition pitches, visit the CIE YouTube channel at


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 County. For more information, visit