Business

SLO HotHouse leads student startups toward success in summer program

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

An intelligent alarm that helps people wake up and stay up. A coffee cup that can be planted and used for reforestation. A product to make it easier for nurses to turn patients and thereby reduce injuries on the job.

These are just a few of the innovative ideas developed by startup companies participating in the SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator, a 13-week summer program through Cal Poly's Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

The accelerator, designed to help new ventures succeed, provides seed money, hands-on mentorship and office space in downtown San Luis Obispo. The startups also get training through workshops and have the opportunity to pitch ideas to investors during Demo Day in September.

More than 30 applicants vied for a spot in the fifth annual accelerator program, according to the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Judges chose 11 from a total of 22 finalists.

"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.

Chelsea Brown, manager of student innovation programs, is overseeing the summer program and said this year's group is terrific.

"These startups are offering exciting new solutions to pressing problems," Brown said. "During the program, we'll match them with mentors in their industries and provide them with strategic business guidance to get these ventures ready to launch."

SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator

Here’s a look at the 2015 CIE SLO HotHouse Accelerator teams:

  • AppScrolls, conceived by Chad Kihm, an industrial engineering student, Ryan Ridley, history, and Marshall Zia, economics, aims to build the largest online community to connect, educate and entertain mobile gamers.
  • Brandplug is a website and agency to help advertisers buy promotion from online influencers. Sam Betesh, business administration, and Andrew Graunke, graphic communications alumnus created it.
  • Chipper, developed by David Levi, electrical engineering, Jacob Stewart, mathematics, Dylan Brodsky, business administration, and Fred Wilby, computer science, is an intelligent alarm that makes sure individuals get out — and stay out — of bed.
  • SENCE, the brainchild of Eric Adler, mechanical engineering, James Fazio, computer science & software engineering, and Jeffrey Hufford, electrical engineering, is a company that designs a non-invasive device that allows a homeowner or renter to access their water usage data in real-time via a smartphone and web app, enabling them to increase consumption awareness, reduce usage and detect leaks.
  • Clock’d, created by Katherine White and Eli Burch, business administration, Colton Stapper, computer science, Tyler Dahl, computer science & software engineering, and Cameron Oelsen, graphic communications, uses iBeacons to check hourly wage workers in and out of work.
  • Mantis Composites makes carbon 3D-printed parts with what it calls unmatched performance. Ryan Dunn and David Zilar, aerospace engineering students, Michael Chapiro, materials engineering, Michael DeLay, electrical engineering, and Ning Jeng, bioresource & agricultural engineering, started it.
  • Reach is a mobile personal relationship manager for business professionals developed by students Tyler Beaty and Jessica Estrada, business administration, Kurt Jiang and Clay Jacobs, computer science & software engineering, and Neal Nguyen, computer science & software engineering.
  • Reduce. Reuse. Grow. Alex Henige, a landscape architecture student, and Natalie Webber, business administration, designed to be what they call the world’s first plantable coffee cup to be used for reforestation.
  • MonsterCreate, a suite of mobile applications designed to engage the creativity of children, was created by Luke Bayard, agricultural business student, and Jacob Johannesen, Francis Pak Yuen, Andrew Adriance, and Elliot Fiske, all computer science & software engineering.
  • Pinventory is a venture that uses RFID in retail settings to find items for the customers’ and stores’ benefit. It was developed by Azra Skeljo, electrical engineering, Kim Payne and Raleigh NeJame, business administration, Andrea Savage, computer science & software engineering, and Aaron Rostad, industrial & manufacturing engineering.
  • U-Turner, developed by Stanley Laszczyk and Harvir Humpal, both biomedical engineering & general engineering, provides a product that will change healthcare by assisting nurses in turning patients, thereby improving patient comfort and reducing work-related injuries.
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