Cal Poly's entrepreneurship hub is getting local businesses going

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is helping to shape the future of San Luis Obispo County business.

Through the SLO Hothouse, a community base of operations for local start-ups supported by Cal Poly, the city of San Luis Obispo, local business owners and the university’s Small Business Development Center for Innovation, new business owners are gaining the tools and skills they need to succeed.

“It has become an entrepreneurship hub for everybody,” said Judy Mahan, director of Cal Poly's Small Business Development Center for Innovation and incubator director for the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Last year, the incubator startup companies and Cal Poly’s SBDC clients received $1.6 million in capital, Mahan said. Another significant amount of funding is expected in the first quarter of this year.

In 2014, 84 small businesses throughout the county, including the 11 SLO Hothouse startups, received business counseling. A total of 39 jobs were created.

This year, Mahan anticipates expanding to a new location in downtown San Luis Obispo, which will allow the university and the greater community to help even more entrepreneurs.

“We’ll be taking on eight to 10 new startups in June out of Cal Poly and three to four community startups in the fall as well,” she said.

The hope is that as more come on board and achieve growth, they will decide to stay, helping to boost the local economy.

These four businesses are just a few of the incubator companies that got their start through Cal Poly’s program: The Cardboard Guys, Z Living Systems, Moja Outdoors and InPress Technologies.

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