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Third year business administration major Alexandra Joelson and third year environmental management and protection major Samuel Andrews are on a mission to create the most durable and sustainable footwear on the market with their startup Intego Technology, formerly Intego Sports.
“Shoes don’t last as long as people really want them to, and the core problem is delamination, which is the separation of the upper and the sole of the shoe,” Joelson explained.
Intego Technology is looking to solve this issue with their patent-pending manufacturing process that will increase a shoe’s lifetime threefold.
The idea for Intego Technology originated when Joelson was in high school. Years of playing soccer showed her firsthand the quick deterioration of athletic footwear.
Her initial solution to the problem was a product she called the Cleat Guard, a silicone-like mold that adhered to the bottom of a cleat to prevent the studs on the bottom from wearing down. Joelson pitched the idea for the Cleat Guard at the 2019 Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Elevator Pitch Competition, a fast-paced competition where students are given 90 seconds to pitch their innovation and startup ideas. She won the first place prize of $1,000.
“The judges asked me what I was going to do with the money [and suggested] I should start a company,” Joelson said.
She acted on their advice and began forming a team. She recruited Andrews, and together, they took Intego Technology to Startup Marathon, a 54-hour long event hosted by the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs at which student innovators work through the weekend to develop a startup idea. The Intego team won the first place prize of $750 with an idea for shoes with interchangeable soles.
“I had no idea that I was going to be involved in entrepreneurship at all in college,” Andrews said. “Then I joined Alexandra’s team for Startup Marathon, and from there, we kept building and growing, and I really grew to love it and decided this was something I wanted to carry through.”
Intego Technology pivoted a number of times since Startup Marathon. The CIE Summer Accelerator program is helping the team navigate their most recent pivot, which will allow them to focus on licensing footwear technology as opposed to operating as a sporting goods company.
The CIE Summer Accelerator is an intensive, summer-long program that helps Cal Poly students and recent graduates develop their startup ideas into real, sustainable businesses. The Intego team first applied to the program in 2020 under an earlier version of their startup idea, but was not accepted. They spent the following year working on and improving their business and reapplied in 2021.
“After pivots, focusing on our business model and ensuring that we developed our product and our technology, we knew that we had a more developed business,” Andrews said. “We really wanted to grow over the summer, so [the Summer Accelerator] was the perfect opportunity. We reapplied and we were accepted.”
The resources afforded by the Summer Accelerator are proving valuable to the growth of Intego Technology. The mentors that the Intego Technology team are meeting and the relationships formed through their involvement with the CIE are especially beneficial, according to Andrews.
“Some of the mentors that we’ve had access to through the CIE have been absolutely incredible and massively influential to our business,” he said. “Having them as a resource and having their advice has made our business process better overall.”
The Summer Accelerator also creates an “immersive environment” that allows the Intego Technology team to surround themselves with “a bunch of like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs,” said Joelson. The fast-paced, collaborative environment fuels creativity and inspires hard work and innovation.
The Intego Technology team developed their technology, confirmed the manufacturability of their product and filed a utility patent. Now just a few months out from having their patent published, both Joelson and Andrews are looking forward to having a manufactured prototype to share with consumers.
“A great part of entrepreneurship is solving a problem and being able to make an impact,” Joelson said. “We’re trying to solve a big problem right now, and it’s fascinating to be able to talk to consumers and see how your solution can really impact their lives.”