Business

With new HotHouse location, Cal Poly and SLO County hope to foster a startup culture

The new space for the SLO HotHouse program on Higuera Street offers meeting rooms and workspace for startups. Pictured here are, left to right, Luke Fox of the startup WhiteFox; Jonathan York, co-founder of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Katie White of WhiteFox; Dr. Thomas Katona, CIE faculty advisor; and Lori Jordan, CIE director of student innovation programs.
The new space for the SLO HotHouse program on Higuera Street offers meeting rooms and workspace for startups. Pictured here are, left to right, Luke Fox of the startup WhiteFox; Jonathan York, co-founder of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Katie White of WhiteFox; Dr. Thomas Katona, CIE faculty advisor; and Lori Jordan, CIE director of student innovation programs.

Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has announced the official opening of its SLO HotHouse building at 872 Higuera St. in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The HotHouse — previously at 955 Morro St. — moved into its new location above Ross Dress for Less in June but only recently finished earthquake retrofitting and tenant improvements to complete the 15,000-square-foot building.

The HotHouse is a partnership among the CIE, San Luis Obispo County, the city of San Luis Obispo and the local business community, offering financial support for operations, programs and activities, as well as mentorship for local startups.

The idea is to foster a startup culture in the county.

Currently, the HotHouse has 13 startups led by Cal Poly students and graduates who aim to grow their companies.

In addition, a new business incubator program helps promote community startups, and the Small Business Development Center helps startups and established companies launch businesses, attract capital investment and create jobs, CIE communications manager Candice Conti said.

“The grand opening of the SLO HotHouse is a major investment in the future of San Luis Obispo that will benefit our community for generations,” CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson said in a statement. “Working with our partners in the county, city, and the business community, the possibilities are limitless. Increasing economic development opportunities will have a ripple effect across our region.”

The HotHouse runs an Incubator program, designed to help Cal Poly students and recent graduates develop their companies from a startup to a sustainable business in two years.

The HotHouse also operates the Accelerator program, which supports the launch of student businesses over a 13-week period through funding, business space and mentorship.

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The startup companies at Cal Poly’s HotHouse are:

  • WhiteFox: creates portable and tactical technology for averting drone threats.
  • BrandPlug: offers software to help marketers buy promotions from social media celebrities.
  • Current: a smartphone case designed to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Spectrum: a hydration backpack designed for music festivals that reflects bass frequency.
  • App Scrolls: an online community platform that increases player engagement and retention for games.
  • BoltAbout: a community electric bike rental.
  • Bottlefly: uses flavor chemistry and data science to help retailers increase wine sales.
  • Calivore Spirits Co.: distills spirits with natural California flavors.
  • Flume: a device that allows homeowners to monitor water usage.
  • Gatherologie: allows people to book event space and vendors through its website.
  • Higea Inc.: nanotechnology to remediate oil spills.
  • ObserVR: a virtual reality application that allows users to stream multiple 2-D videos in 3-D environment.
  • Reduce. Reuse. Grow.: offers eco-friendly solutions for native landscapes.
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