Engineering Ingenuity Gets Boost in Summer Program for Startups
August 01, 2015
Engineering ingenuity figured prominently in this year's SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program. The intense 13-week program, offered through Cal Poly's Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE), is aimed at helping new ventures succeed.
Of the 11 interdisciplinary companies accepted into the summer SLO HotHouse program, nine include engineering students. Three teams — App Scrolls, Flume and ErgoMatrix — were recent winners of the Innovation Quest (iQ) competition, a related CIE effort to promote student entrepreneurship.
CIE provides seed money, hands-on mentorship, and dedicated office space during the summer at its new downtown SLO HotHouse location. The startups will also receive training through workshops and be given resources to develop skills and ideas. At the end of the program, they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors during Demo Day in September.
“Our Accelerator teams reflect all the domains of expertise at Cal Poly,” said Jonathan York, professor in the Orfalea College of Business and CIE co-founder and faculty director.
York helped found CIE in 2010 as a way to provide startup help to students with innovative business ideas. The SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator Program remains one of the CIE’s core programs, even as it has vastly expanded its academic yearly offerings to provide early-stage venture support, consultants and resources for students and recent graduate entrepreneurs.
Also pivotal to the interdisciplinary entrepreneurship effort is Tom Katona, who was appointed to a joint teaching position last fall to expand collaboration among the College of Engineering, the Orfalea College of Business and CIE. An engineer with extensive experience in technological innovation and startup ventures, Katona sees his role as “advancing innovation across disciplines, using principles of design thinking and product development to nurture successful entrepreneurial activity on campus and in the local community.”
CIE provides seed money, hands-on mentorship and dedicated office space during the summer at its new downtown SLO HotHouse location. The startups also receive training through workshops and are given resources to develop skills and ideas. At the end of the program, they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors during Demo Day in September.
The 2015 CIE SLO HotHouse Accelerator teams include:
- AppScrolls, which aims to build the largest online community to connect, educate and entertain mobile gamers, was conceived by Chad Kihm (industrial engineering), Ryan Ridley (history) and Marshall Zia (economics).
- Brandplug, a website and agency that helps advertisers buy promotions from online influencers, was created by Sam Betesh (business administration) and Andrew Graunke, a graphic communications alumnus.
- Chipper, developed by Fred Wilby (computer science), Jacob Stewart (mathematics) and Dylan Brodsky (business administration), is an intelligent alarm that makes sure individuals get out - and stay out - of bed.
- Clock'd, an app that can check hourly wage workers in and out of work, was developed by Colton Stapper (computer science), Tyler Dahl (software engineering), Cameron Oelsen (graphic communications) and Katherine White andEli Burch (business administration).
- ErgoMatrix Inc., founded by biomedical engineering student Stanley Laszczyk and his aunt, Judy Laszczyk, a registered nurse, provides a product that assists nurses, thereby improving patient comfort and reducing work-related injuries.
- Flume, which is a non-invasive, real-time device that allows homeowners or renters to access their water-usage data in real time via a smartphone and web app, is the brainchild of Eric Adler (mechanical engineering), James Fazio(software engineering) and Jeffrey Hufford (electrical engineering).
- KIT, a suite of mobile applications for business professionals that helps take the work out of networking, was developed by Ryan Chang (software engineering), Neal Nguyen (computer engineering) and business students Tyler Beaty (finance and economics), Jessica Estrada (marketing) and Jimmy Wilson (finance).
- Mantis Composites, a maker of carbon 3D-printed parts with unmatched performance, reflects the multidisciplinary makeup of its team: Ryan Dunn and David Zilar (aerospace engineering), Michael Chapiro (materials engineering),Michael DeLay (electrical engineering) and Ning Jeng (bioresource and agricultural engineering).
- MonsterCreate, a suite of mobile applications designed to engage the creativity of children, was created by Andrew Adriance, Elliot Fiske, Jacob Johannesen (computer science), Francis Pak Yuen (software engineering) and Luke Bayard (agricultural business).
- Pinventory, a venture that uses RFID (radio frequency identification) in retail settings to find items for the customers' and stores' benefit, was developed by Azra Skeljo (electrical engineering), Andrea Savage (software engineering) andKim Payne and Raleigh NeJame (business administration).
- Reduce Reuse Grow, a business started by Alex Henige (landscape architecture) and Natalie Webber (business administration), has created the world's first plantable coffee cup to be used for reforestation.
About the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
The Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship manages and supports a wide variety of programs and activities to stimulate the entrepreneurial Learn by Doing spirit at Cal Poly and to assist entrepreneurs in following their dreams. For more information, go to cie.calpoly.edu.
Pictured: The Matrix Composites team takes a moment to unwind. Back row, from left: David Zilar, Ryan Dunn and Ning Jeng; front row, from left: Michael DeLay and Michael Chapiro.