I recently joined Genicell, one of the Cal Poly student startups invited to the CP business incubator known as the Hothouse. For those of you who haven’t heard of Genicell I’ll let Marcus Foley explain it with his pitch that won the CIE Elevator Pitch competition last fall.
I had applied to the Hothouse with a business idea of my own, but after making it to the final round the idea was rejected. After wallowing in my own self-pity for two weeks I realized that the there was still an opportunity for me to participate in the Hothouse. Several of the teams that were accepted had been looking for help on the business end all year. Joining Genicell was an easy choice for me because I had built up a relationship while hanging out in the same entrepreneurial circles as Amin, Marcus, and Mike. I had always that they were working on an incredible idea and I would have asked to join a long time ago if I weren’t so caught up in my own project.
Anyhoo, the Hothouse started this past Monday and it was one hell of a week. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hooked up the 8 teams invited to the Hothouse with office space in Downtown SLO. I get to ride my bike to work all summer. It’s tough for me to explain how exciting that is after I did two summers driving hundreds of miles for other internships.
The goal of Week 1 in the Hothouse was to prepare all of the teams for this long, fun, and challenging summer. CIE walked us through a program put together by the Kauffman Foundation called Fasttrac. Fasttrac is a 10 week program businesses are put though, however the Hothouse decided to do it in one week. So, Monday through Friday from 10-whenever, all 8 businesses were getting a crash course in Business 101. Many of the teams had already gone through these exercises, but it was good for everyone to go through again because it forced teams to really evaluate where they are with their business and what they need to do for summer. It was extremely valuable for me to work on with the Genicell team because I still have a lot to learn about the industry we are getting into. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of previous work in dealing with pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, bioreactors, or tissue engineering. I’m making progress though
In between exercises CIE brought in several local entrepreneurs to speak to the group. Rick Stollmeyer, Lucia Cleveland, Jim Hale, and Justin Cuoto to name a few. Being an active member of the local entrepreneurial community I had heard everyone they brought in at least 2-3 times, but for the majority of the Hothouse teams this was a brand new experience. I think it was fantastic for these teams who are trying to build new life-changing businesses that if they work hard they too can be successful. I know my Genicell team was truly inspired to continue working their asses off all summer.
Yesterday we graduated the 10 week program that was compressed to one week. After having spent one week in the Hothouse I can’t wait for the rest of summer. Being locked in a giant office with 30+ CP students who are all trying to change the world is an invigorating experience. Who knows, several of these teams might just make it.