Business

Cal Poly's SLO HotHouse moving to larger location

Max Mero and Garrett Milster work on their start-up RapairTech while Tyler Wirght Chase-Nason, from Autonomous Surveyor, occupies the cubicle next to them at SLO Hothouse in 2012. The SLO Hothouse is an incubator for start-up companies launched by Cal Poly students and alumni.
Max Mero and Garrett Milster work on their start-up RapairTech while Tyler Wirght Chase-Nason, from Autonomous Surveyor, occupies the cubicle next to them at SLO Hothouse in 2012. The SLO Hothouse is an incubator for start-up companies launched by Cal Poly students and alumni. jmellom@thetribunenews.com

Cal Poly will be moving its SLO HotHouse program to a new space in downtown San Luis Obispo that’s more than double the size of its current location.

The university’s collaborative effort with the city and the local business community to spur innovation, startups and economic growth has been given a boost with the signing of a 10-year lease on a 15,000-square-foot space on the 800 block of Higuera Street, directly above the Ross Dress for Less store.

The HotHouse has been operating out of a 6,000-square-foot space at 955 Morro St. in San Luis Obispo, which it will vacate in the next few months. The Morro Street space will be demolished and replaced with new development.

The transition into the new HotHouse location will take place gradually, beginning in June and continuing through the early fall.

“With the help of the city of (San Luis Obispo) and the local business community, the SLO HotHouse has become a key player in the economic development of our county,” program director Judy Mahan said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited with the opportunity to continue increasing our impact with access to more space for more startups to launch and grow locally.”

HotHouse includes the Accelerator program, which is designed to help startup businesses successfully launch within three months.

The Accelerator participants are Cal Poly graduates who receive about $10,000 in seed money from alumni donations to get their ideas off the ground; eight groups joined the most recent Accelerator program.

Other initiatives include the Incubator program, which houses selected companies for a 24-month period as they develop new business plans.

The guidance for the Incubator startups includes peer roundtable discussions, an advisory board, networking opportunities and exclusive access to entrepreneurial events in the county.

The Incubator program consists of about 12 companies that were created by Cal Poly graduates, but the program will soon open to the business community at large, including those without university associations.

Mahan expects to house about 25 Incubator companies in the new business space in the fall.

The HotHouse concept was formulated in 2010 and has been in operation for the past 2½ years.

Startup ideas launched through Hothouse have included a new brand of rock climbing gear; a device that helps stop postpartum bleeding; and an urban landscaping venture that involves hanging plantings from walls and hooking them up to an irrigation system.

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