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Venturing beyond the stars: Little Place Labs utilizes collaboration with Cal Poly classrooms for entrepreneurial growth

While pursuing their MBAs at Oxford University, the brains behind Little Place Labs brewed up their startup idea over pints of Guinness. It all kicked off with one, then turned into five, and soon enough co-founders Bosco Lai, acting CEO, and Gaurav Bajaj, acting CTO, were deep into brainstorming. Fueled by laughter, camaraderie, and a dash of liquid courage, these co-founders turned pub banter into a startup known as Little Place Labs.

Little Place Labs, a space tech company, specializes in developing solutions for near real-time space insights. In a world heavily reliant on space data collected by satellites, their innovative approach involves implementing software that operates directly on satellites, enabling the transformation of space-collected data into actionable information delivered quickly to ground stakeholders. Their software is particularly crucial in situations where real-time decisions are imperative.

At the heart of Little Place Labs’ narrative is the profound significance of relationships and engaging with individuals.

“One of the key elements of why Little Place Lab exists is because I met my co-founder and some of the team members,” Lai said. “When you meet the right people, everything just kickstarts.”

The theme of relationships continued, as it was through a coincidental interaction that the Texas-based startup came to join the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship  Incubator program. 

The CIE Incubator helps develop early-stage startups into financially secure and scalable enterprises. Entrepreneurs in the program are provided with mentorship, funding opportunities and other resources to develop their business. 

In 2022, while attending a space event in Los Angeles, Lai said he crossed paths with Judy Mahan, Cal Poly CIE Senior Economic Development Director. Their casual conversation delved into the essence of Little Place Labs and Mahan’s role within the organization.

Quickly captivated by the Incubator’s diverse support for various startups beyond space tech, Lai said he immediately recognized the unique prospect the program offered. More than just a chance to immerse Little Place Labs in California’s dynamic ecosystem, Lai saw it as a golden opportunity to foster profound connections with a program deeply connected to a university that encourages collaboration between startups, academia, students and professors.

Little Place Labs joined the Incubator in 2022 and participates in the program virtually from Texas.

Through the CIE Incubator, Little Place Labs was introduced to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) professor Barry Lieberman, which they credit to be one of the best opportunities utilized from the program.

“Interaction with the personnel and people with Cal Poly really, really helped us,” Lai said. Working with the professors, students and directly with the university, helps us think through things not just from a commercial way, but also from a technical way.” 

Lieberman runs a commercialization of new technologies course at Cal Poly, structured around grouping his students to research for an emerging company in an under-researched market. Little Place Labs has collaborated with the students in this course the last two years.

Their participation in the course has proved to be a beneficial experience for both the students and Little Place Labs.

“We are able to really leverage the students during their time with Professor Liberman to do market research on Little Place Labs,” Lai said. “There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of work that we were able to leverage from the students during their time with us. We were very happy to use their work and merge it with our own.”

As the 2024 year begins, Lai said Little Place Labs is focusing on their business development. Specifically, working on partnerships, contacts, increasing exposure and planning seed ground fundraising events in the upcoming months. 

In line with their commitment to fostering relationships, they plan to continue working with Professor Lieberman and interacting with Cal Poly students.

“We really enjoy working with the professor and the students. We learned a lot, and I think that’s really valuable. Not all programs can provide us with that kind of exposure and interactions,” Lai said. “The Incubator is fantastic because it really provides you support in many different ways. The program is open to your imagination.”

 

 

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Incubator Spotlight: Zoetic Motion

Zoetic Motion is a startup focusing on providing mobility support to people in physical therapy. Using artificial intelligence (AI) powered assistance, they are building a platform that allows patients to guide themselves through home exercises. The platform provides real-time feedback to patients by detecting and correcting their form during movements.

Zoetic Motion is making the recovery process more accessible and convenient, ultimately creating a better experience for patients, said Zoetic Motion founder and CEO Zeeshan Khan.

Khan thought of the idea for the startup while taking an Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project I Course (ENGR 463) at Cal Poly. Through the class, Khan partnered with other Cal Poly students to create Muscle Ninja, an attachable sensor that informs users of muscle activation during exercise.

Khan and his team brought the idea to the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) Summer Accelerator program in 2021. 

The Summer Accelerator is a three-month program that provides hands-on mentorship and resources needed to build a business. To help grow startups, Accelerator participants gain access to $10,000 in seed funding. Muscle Ninja, now known as Zoetic Motion, was one of the nine startups accepted into the program in 2021. 

Through the Summer Accelerator, Zoetic Motion pivoted from a wearable hardware prototype to a software solution. Khan said the Summer Accelerator helped organize his team’s thoughts, explore more ideas, and de-risk their business. 

After completing the Summer Accelerator, Zoetic Motion joined the CIE Incubator and has been working to build out Zoetic Motion’s mission since then. 

“Since joining the Incubator program, I don’t think I would have had access to the same resources that I did,” Khan said. 

The Incubator allowed Khan to connect with people genuinely interested in his product and with real experience in the entrepreneurship world, he said. 

“It is a great, safe environment where there is someone there to check on your work, check on your progress, and help you stay accountable for the milestones that you set,” Khan explained. 

The Incubator has connected Zoetic Motion with various fundraising opportunities, including AngelCon, an annual pitch competition hosted by the Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC) where six tech-driven startups compete to win more than $100,000 in equity-backed funding.

After leveraging resources from the Incubator, Khan said he felt more prepared to pitch in front of investors at the upcoming AngelCon event. 

Khan said he is excited to partner with various physical therapy clinics and clinicians. Zoetic Motion now has a business model that allows them to earn income through subscriptions while providing revenue back to the clinics. Khan said Zoetic Motion is now in the hands of users and is steadily gaining more traction.

Their team is giving back to their patients and clinics by making therapy more accessible and providing physical therapists with valuable insights into recovery outcomes.

In addition to providing Zoetic Motion a great setting to fail and receive feedback, the Incubator also allowed Khan to learn about his business and ultimately grow from it. 

“If you want to test yourself out or give yourself a challenge, entrepreneurship is the way to go, especially in the Incubator program,” he said. 

 

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Incubator Spotlight: Vetama

A photo of a van with the Vetama logo parked in front of a sunset.

Vetama is a mobile veterinary franchise that provides a convenient pet care option for both animals and their owners. The startup supports veterinarians’ and technicians’ personal success by allowing them to practice independently. 

 The idea for the business originated after co-founder and Cal Poly animal science graduate Jacob Wright shadowed two veterinarians, who soon became his business partners. They discussed the harsh future of the veterinarian industry due to poor quality of life and corporate constraints. Their goal was to find potential ways to help empower future veterinarians. 

 While working together in their mobile veterinary practice, the co-founders sparked the idea of using their mobile practice as a template and soon developed a franchise model. 

 A year later, after Wright received his Masters of Business Administration from Cal Poly, he and his co-founders, Dr. Raffy Dorian and Dr. Daniel Gutman, created Vetama. 

 Vetama provides consulting and coaching to help veterinarians run their own business when, how and where they want. 

 Shortly after founding Vetama, the co-founders joined the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Incubator, a two-year program that provides everything necessary for early-stage companies to develop into successful enterprises. The program connects entrepreneurs with resources including mentorship, networking events and funding opportunities.  

 Before joining the Incubator program, Wright said that Vetama had minimal sales, few leads and no exposure to veterinary conferences. The Incubator connected Wright to the proper resources and mentorship to develop their entity into a growing business.

 “The doors just kept opening, it’s almost overwhelming,” Wright said. “You get to talk to crazy smart people, and they offer their time essentially for free for you to pick their brain.” 

 Wright said participating in the Incubator created a sense of community, as well as several opportunities to receive advice from fellow entrepreneurs. 

 “You’re going through the same stress of fundraising, you’re going through the same stress of not knowing, literally not having any templates or anything created for your customers and being around other people in the same situation yields more creative ideas,” Wright explained. 

 Vetama is currently working on developing a new role for technicians to offer ambulatory services in their area. They’ve also recently launched their first location in Salem, Oregon and plan on debuting their second location by July.

Past Incubator participants advised Wright that the more he puts into the program, the more he will get out of it. 

“That could not be more true,” Wright said.

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Incubator Spotlight: ARTIFEX

Three people stand behind a table smiling. On the table are blueprint pages and a tablet with the name ARTIFEX displayed on it.

ARTIFEX is creating a data processing software that allows architects and designers to input data points and receive automated floor plans. Users can then export that data and use it to inform the next stage of the design process.

The idea for the tool stemmed from research that co-founder Elijah Williams conducted while pursuing a Master of Science in Architecture with Cal Poly. Williams’ original idea was for a hardware device that used a laser to collect measurement data. He brought that idea to the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in 2021 and joined the CIE’s Hatchery, a startup incubator for Cal Poly students.

Around that same time, Anna Baytosh, a Cal Poly Masters in Business Administration student at the time, approached the CIE looking to get involved and learn more about the startup process. The CIE connected her with Williams, and she joined ARTIFEX just in time to apply for the CIE’s Summer Accelerator program.

The Summer Accelerator is a three-month program that provides Cal Poly students and recent graduates with the resources needed to build a business, including $10,000 in seed funding. ARTIFEX was one of the nine startups accepted into the program in 2021.

By the end of the Summer Accelerator, ARTIFEX had successfully raised a small round of pre-seed capital. Baytosh, who had originally planned to leave ARTIFEX after completing the program, joined Williams as an official co-founder and became the startup’s COO.

Following the Summer Accelerator, ARTIFEX joined the CIE’s two-year Incubator program, which is designed to help early-stage startups develop into financially stable and scalable businesses. It connects founders with resources that can help facilitate growth, such as mentorship, networking events and funding opportunities.

“The Incubator provides a wealth of resources, from accounting, legal, marketing, finance — anything you really need to get your startup off the ground,” Baytosh said. “For us, it was about the Incubator helping us build that structure around what we had already created in the Summer Accelerator.”

Since joining the Incubator, ARTIFEX has pivoted from their original hardware idea to a software solution. They’ve also begun fundraising.

The Incubator has connected ARTIFEX with several fundraising opportunities, including AngelCon, an annual pitch competition hosted by the Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC), where tech-driven startups from California’s Central Coast compete to win equity-backed funding.

ARTIFEX participated in AngelCon in 2022, and although they did not raise funding from the competition, Baytosh said it was still “an awesome experience.”

She described the preparation for the competition as a “pitch bootcamp.”

“We were able to hone our pitch and our strategy,” she said. “And we were able to meet more people that we were able to raise funds from later.”

In addition to helping the ARTIFEX co-founders meet prospective investors, the Incubator also introduced them to a community of fellow entrepreneurs.

“I would say, for a venture-backed startup, a network of advisors, investors and fellow founders is absolutely crucial because that’s what’s going to keep you going,” Baytosh said. “Those network connections are going to get you to the next step.”

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Incubator Spotlight: Tallyfor

Three people stand in front of a projector screen that reads "Tallyfor." The woman on the left-hand side has her arm around the man in the middle, who is holding a framed paper that reads "Certificate of Graduation." The man on the right-hand side also has his arm around the man in the middle.

Tallyfor is using online automation to ease the process of completing business taxes.

The idea for the startup originated while Peter Wen was working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at Xero, an online accounting company. Wen realized much of the work a CPA completed manually could be automated — so he set out to build a product to do just that.

Now, Wen is the co-founder of Tallyfor, a startup he described as “the tax calculation layer for the internet.”

Tallyfor improves online accounting software so that it is able to complete business taxes by moving data from source transactions to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filing.

“Everyone has to do tax returns, right? And it’s actually quite an arduous job,” Wen said. “So what Tallyfor does is help automate (the process).”

Wen began developing Tallyfor in 2018. Three years later, he brought the startup to AngelCon, an annual competition hosted by the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in which tech-driven startups on California’s Central Coast compete to win funding for their businesses.

Tallyfor won the competition and was awarded the top prize of $145,000 in equity-backed funding.

“AngelCon was a lot of fun,” Wen said. “It was really a great way for us to kick off our business.”

Following AngelCon, Tallyfor joined the CIE Incubator, a two-year program designed to help early-stage startups develop into financially stable and scalable businesses. The program provides participating startups with resources that can help facilitate growth, such as mentorship, networking events and funding opportunities.

For Wen, the most valuable part of the Incubator is the community. Through the program, Wen has had the opportunity to connect with his fellow entrepreneurs.

“Being a startup founder, I always say, is a bit lonely,” he said. “It’s always challenging finding like-minded founders and people who support you. Joining the Incubator program was very helpful in finding people to support you in those early stages.”

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Local startup Novocuff is working with the CIE Incubator to save infant lives

Novocuff co-founders Donald Lee (left) and Amelia Defenkolb (right) stand behind a table with images of a fetus in danger of preterm birth with Novocuff's product versus without, as well as their company's logo.

In early April of 2019, Donald Lee accompanied his wife Christine to a routine ultrasound appointment.

The Lee’s were expecting twins — they were not expecting to spend the following weeks in the hospital.

During the ultrasound appointment, Christine was diagnosed with a short cervix, a condition that can increase the likelihood of preterm birth. She was immediately rushed to a hospital across the street. 

“We never went home after that,” Donald said. 

Christine laid in the hospital with her feet elevated higher than her head for three weeks in an attempt to prevent preterm birth. She eventually gave birth to twin daughters at 24 weeks — about four months earlier than typical.

Premature infants are often born with underdeveloped lungs and immune systems, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Most require medical support in order to survive for the first few weeks of their lives.

The Lee’s spent over 5 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“I asked a lot of physicians during that time, ‘What could we have done differently to prevent this?’” Donald said. “The answer across the board was the same: There was nothing we could have done.”

That answer wasn’t good enough for Donald. 

With a background in mechanical engineering, he set out to invent a medical device that would prevent preterm births. He began researching and prototyping and, eventually, developed a product that would become the foundation of Novocuff, a maternal healthcare startup working to reduce infant mortality caused by preterm birth.

Donald’s daughters are now three years old. They’re healthy. They go to preschool. They beat the odds.

But not all families are as lucky. Roughly 20 percent of infants born at 24 weeks do not survive, according to an American Medical Association journal.

Novocuff is working to change that.

There are a million deaths worldwide attributed to preterm birth, but 75 percent of those deaths could be prevented by delaying labor, Donald said.

Novocuff’s medical device can extend pregnancy for women at risk of delivering their children prematurely. The silicone device is vaginally inserted and supports the body’s natural anatomy, applying compression to the cervix. It’s also adjustable, so physicians can change the compression as the patient’s body changes throughout the course of the pregnancy.

After developing the device, Donald was unsure how to bring that solution to market — so he reached out to a former colleague, Amelia Degenkolb, who was on the founding team of Alydia Health.

Alydia Health, formerly InPress Technologies, was a startup working to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding after giving birth, with their device, the Jada System. Degenkolb was one of the engineers who developed the Jada System.

Alydia Health was acquired by American pharmaceutical company Organon & Co. in 2021 for $240 million.

“It was all over the local news that Alydia was acquired by Organon for $240 million, and I assumed (Degenkolb) would be free,” Donald said. “And so I called her and I asked if she could meet for coffee.”

Donald arrived at Skippers Coffee with a presentation and pitch to convince Degenkolb to help bring Novocuff to market, but Degenkolb only needed to look at one page of Donald’s work before agreeing to join.

She became the CEO of Novocuff, handling the startup’s business relations, fundraising and FDA approval process. Donald became the startup’s official CTO, handling the development of their product.

Degenkolb said she was excited to start fresh with Novocuff and felt like she was “going in eyes wide open” after seven years with Alydia Health. “I  know about a lot of the potential pitfalls and detours that we can now avoid, and I have the right contacts and support to help us succeed in a much quicker way,” she said.

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was a key resource in the success of Alydia Health — so Degenkolb brought Novocuff to the Cal Poly CIE.

“It was a natural fit for us,” Degenkolb said. “I had already been through this process once with (Alydia Health), and so we did it again.”

Novocuff joined the CIE Incubator, a two-year program that provides startups with the resources needed for smarter, faster growth. It connects participants with mentors, consultants and potential investors. Alydia Health participated in the same program in its early stages and graduated in 2012.

The Incubator also provides opportunities to earn funding through pitch competitions, like the CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC) AngelCon. AngelCon is an annual event where tech-driven startups on the Central Coast compete to win equity-backed funding. Novocuff participated in AngelCon in 2022 and won $70,000 in equity investment.

With that funding, Novocuff is one step closer to accomplishing their goal of saving babies’ lives.

Donald said he hopes to eventually take Novocuff global. The device’s design is purposefully simple so that lower-income nations can utilize the device, even in the absence of a highly trained physician. 

“Globally, there’s about 15 million preterm labor cases,” Donald said. “Our aim is (for) our device to be straightforward enough and simple enough to use globally (so that) we can bring down that millions of deaths significantly.”

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Incubator Spotlight: Zeste Farms

Rows of small plants under a pink tinted light.

Zeste Farms is a startup leveraging vertical farming — the growing of crops in vertical layers, often in a climate controlled environment — to grow leafy greens and herbs.

The idea for the startup originated while co-founder Stan Kaplita realized that existing indoor vertical farming technologies were not being used to their full potential.

“I saw challenges with traditional farming with climate change, water scarcity and land scarcity, and I came to the realization that what can be grown inside will be grown inside,” he said.

Now, Zeste Farms has developed an efficient method of indoor vertical farming that requires lower operating costs and eliminates the “green premium,” or the additional cost of clean technology compared to that with greater greenhouse emissions.

Zeste Farms utilizes their innovation to grow unadulterated produce, which provides consumers with maximum nutrition and maximum flavor.

Early in the startup development process, Zeste Farms got involved with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, joining their Incubator. The Incubator is a two-year program designed to help early-stage startups develop into financially stable and scalable businesses by connecting participating startups with mentors, networking opportunities and resources that facilitate faster, smarter growth.

Kaplita, whose professional background is in engineering, said he joined the Incubator because his professional background led to an emphasis on engineering a product rather than developing a business.

“We were so lopsided as a company when we started out,” Kaplita said. “(The Incubator) pushed us in terms of marketing and sales.”

The Incubator provided Zeste Farms with the resources needed to grow from an idea to a startup. Through the program, Kaplita said he learned how to refine business pitches, market effectively and manage a startup.

“I look at the CIE as a critical resource and support for our company,” he said.

The Incubator has also created several networking opportunities that have been especially valuable to Zeste Farms, according to Kaplita. He was introduced to a business consultant who specializes in biological and agricultural technology who he meets with bi-weekly. The program also put Kaplita in contact with an angel fund that later invested in Zeste Farms.

Kaplita added that he benefits from the Incubator’s frequent guest speakers, who are able to provide different perspectives on the startup development process. Their advice can provide “a different approach to solve a problem,” Kaplita said.

The wealth of resources offered by the Incubator ultimately provide startups with a stability that Kaplita said he is grateful for.

“The CIE can help guide the ship a little bit,” he said. “It’s very approachable, very friendly. I feel very fortunate to have been in this area and to use the resource here.”

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Incubator Spotlight: TRIC Robotics

Adam Stager stands on a stage, wearing a blue button-up shirt and blazer and holding a microphone. He stands in front of a projected slideshow which shows the words "$84Bn spent on chemicals to control pests and disease" in white font over a picture of strawberries.

TRIC Robotics is revolutionizing pest control, using ultraviolet light in place of chemical pesticides to help farmers control pests and disease.

“You can think of our solution like a giant Roomba,” said TRIC Robotics founder and CEO Adam Stager. “It’s tractor scale, and it carries these lights up and down the rows to control the pests.”

The idea for TRIC Robotics originated while Stager was pursuing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware. While in school, Stager met United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists who had spent ten years researching ultraviolet light as a substitute for chemical pesticides. 

Stager eventually decided to turn the innovation into a business — but although the research that inspired TRIC Robotics originated in Delaware, Stager realized his startup might be more successful in California.

California is largely recognized as the leading contributor to United States agriculture, producing 75% of the nation’s fruits and nuts, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture

California also grows 90% of strawberries in the United States, so in 2021, Stager drove across the country to bring TRIC Robotics to West Coast strawberry farms.  

Once in California, Stager discovered the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Incubator, a two year program designed to help early-stage startups develop into financially stable, scalable businesses. The Incubator provides participating startups with mentorship, networking opportunities and resources that help facilitate smarter, faster growth.

TRIC Robotics officially joined the Incubator in August 2021.

The Incubator helped Stager grow his professional network after coming to California, he said. The program also connected Stager with pitch competitions, as well as mentors who helped prepare him to compete.

In 2022, TRIC Robotics enjoyed a notable winning streak, earning the Audience Choice Award at the Central Coast Innovation Awards, the Central Coast Economic Forecast and AngelCon.

AngelCon is an annual competition, hosted by the Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC) where tech-driven Central Coast startups compete to win $100,000 in equity backed funding. 

“AngelCon was a great experience for us,” Stager said. “The Incubator really prepared us so that we could get into AngelCon and be really competitive, and once we got there, the mentors really helped us prepare for a round of funding.”

The Incubator program is also associated with Cal Poly, whose College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) is the international leader in undergraduate agriculture education. Stager said he has leveraged this resource, bringing high-achieving CAFES students onto the TRIC Robotics team.

Stager said participating in the Incubator also introduced him to a community of fellow entrepreneurs, many of which are working in a similar industry. He is able to collaborate and engage with other Incubator participants and learn from their experience. 

“It can be a lonely journey of being an entrepreneur, but being a part of the Incubator not only gives you access to resources, mentors and classes that teach you how to take the next steps in your startup, but it’s also a great forum for communicating with other founders,” he said.

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CIE Graduates Keeping it SLOcal: Motoroso

Founder of Motoroso sitting on the roof of his black pickup truck on the beach.

Alex Littlewood didn’t land in San Luis Obispo by chance nor did he grow his startup here out of sheer convenience — in fact, he strategically chose the Central Coast over San Diego and Silicon Valley to do so. 

When Littlewood began building his startup Motoroso in 2014, he was based out of the Bay Area, a place that many would cite as the entrepreneurial epicenter. Upon getting accepted into the Techstars Accelerator, he moved the company to San Diego but decided to leave a year later in 2017.

Then, instead of returning to Silicon Valley, Littlewood found himself en route to San Luis Obispo.

“The decision to move to San Luis Obispo was primarily because I wanted to live here and wanted to build a company here,” Littlewood said. “It’s a place where people are realizing that one of the best ways to build a robust local economy is by supporting and growing entrepreneurship in the area.”

About six months after the move, he joined the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) HotHouse Incubator to build Motoroso into what is now the first-ever platform for automotive and powersports enthusiasts to seamlessly share, discover and purchase parts for vehicular projects.

“I really, really like what the CIE and SBDC have done [with the program] in bringing everyone from the campus level to the community level all together into a single space where people can collaborate,” he explained. “Having that environment is what really makes entrepreneurship work.”

Now that Motoroso has graduated from the two-year program and officially launched in 2019, though, has Littlewood thought about leaving the area? 

Not a chance.

He said that while so many people get the impression that they should start a company somewhere small then move it to the Bay Area, he “honestly can’t think of a worse decision.” 

“It’s not a conducive place for startups anymore,” Littlewood explained. “There’s less noise in San Luis Obispo with fewer companies, so it’s much harder for startups that are nonsense to hide out in the mess just because they just have the right connections, like in the Bay Area.”

Despite the Central Coast being known for its wine country, beaches and laid-back outdoorsy appeal, Littlewood also sees the professional perks of the area.

“Even though San Luis Obispo is a small startup ecosystem, you have people who are very intelligent and working very hard and they’re all in one central space,” he said. “That makes for a very strong, robust and supportive environment that I personally think is one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

And that’s coming from an entrepreneur who has worked up and down the coast of California, as well as in Detroit and Austin.

Whether it’s due to being in a place that supports his lifestyle, the way the CIE supports his company’s growth or getting the upper hand in growing a business in a non-diluted location, Littlewood makes a good case for why entrepreneurs should not only come to San Luis Obispo, but why they should stay.

If you’re considering keeping it SLOcal with your startup, let us guide you in the right direction. 

Learn more about our startup incubator at https://calpolycie.wpengine.com/launch/hothouse-incubator/ or the SLO HotHouse coworking experience for established small businesses, growing startups freelancers and remote workers at https://calpolycie.wpengine.com/coworking/.

Find out more about Motoroso at https://www.motoroso.com/.

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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://calpolycie.wpengine.com/launch/hothouse-incubator/

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