During his first year at Cal Poly, Kalen Goo was walking through a campus clubs fair and stopped at the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs booth. That’s where he discovered the world of entrepreneurship, and he immediately saw a future for himself in that community.
“This was a place of people I wanted to surround myself with,” he remembers thinking.
Now president of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs, the software engineering junior with an entrepreneurship minor wants to share that connection with others. He and other club members will host a virtual Start-Up Career Fair on March 12, where students can connect with CEO of Vertosa, Ben Larson, founder of San Luis Obispo start-up Roopairs, David J. Bartolomucci and CEO of Mindbody, Rick Stollmeyer. Students will have the opportunity to learn about job opportunities and find local Cal Poly start-ups that are looking for team members.
“We want to show how people can dive into the world of entrepreneurship and reap the different benefits from it,” Goo said. “It allows for creative freedom and interdisciplinary connections that entrepreneurship has.”
The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers several opportunities for students looking to get involved in entrepreneurship. From the Cal Poly Entrepreneurship Club to the Innovation Sandbox, the center works to help students “launch their own startups and become entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value everywhere,” according to the CIE website.
The center has guided many Cal Poly students to reach their entrepreneurship goals. From local start-ups to members of start-ups across the nation, the CIE fosters the entrepreneurship skill set.
“I was first introduced to Cal Poly’s entrepreneurship programs when I was a third year. It is safe to say I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for everything they have done. Cal Poly’s program isn’t a one and done, it’s a support system meant to carry your business through the earliest stages up until launch and through growth. And the best part, all those contacts I made throughout the process are just one call away,” said David J. Bartolomucci, Cal Poly grad and founder of the local start-up, Roopairs.
Like Bartolomucci, the CIE and Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Club have also strongly influenced Goo.
Goo became president of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Club in 2020, and amidst the global pandemic Goo wanted to continue the mission despite the limitations brought on by COVID-19.
“I want to push this club to the fullest and maximize the value we provide and the opportunities students can gain from it,” he said.
Video by Helyn Oshrin
Reporters Lili LeBaron and Helyn Oshrin interviewed Goo, and organized the interview into the Q & A below. Goo’s answers have been edited for length and style.
What is the Virtual Start-Up Career Fair?
“It’s an opportunity for start-ups to connect to the Cal Poly community and for Cal Poly students to get exposure to entrepreneurship and really explore what it would be like to be a part of a startup. We are the middlemen and connection point in bringing people together and allowing for great conversations.”
What are your goals for students who want to be a part of the event?
“A lot of career fairs are geared to specific majors or certain careers, and the beauty of the a start-up career fair is that there are so many moving pieces that there’s potential for creatives, technical doers and entrepreneurship thinkers. Whatever skills and interests you have, anyone is welcome to attend.”
Why do start-ups want to pair with Cal Poly Students?
“It gets pitched a lot that Cal Poly students have “Learn by Doing” opportunities, and I agree that the experiences through courses have really prepared Cal Poly students to step into a role and really start making an impact.”
“As a start-up, it’s crucial to bring in people who know how to get stuff done, who are self starters and who define their own goals and progress, so that’s a really big selling point we try to make. The other big thing is the interdisciplinary creative nature of Cal Poly students. I feel like everyone who gets into Cal Poly has a goal in mind and is looking to broaden their perspective and take on different things.”
How has being born and raised in Hawaii inspired you?
“Being born and raised in Hawaii, I’ve been really lucky to be surrounded by people of different perspectives and different opinions. Every situation is an opportunity and you as a person determines what you gain from it. Carrying that into Cal Poly Entrepreneurs has been really impactful.”
Has being a part of Entrepreneurship changed you?
“It helped me grow and broaden my perspectives. As a third year, I’m learning how to combine my two passions, software engineering and entrepreneurship.”
What challenges have you faced in the position?
“I stepped into this position in August and it was going into a virtual platform. So keeping people as engaged and excited as they would be in person was challenging. We realized our goal isn’t to teach people to be CEOs or start a business but to inspire people to learn and grow in their entrepreneurship skills and apply them to their everyday lives.”
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
“I stepped into Cal Poly as a software engineering major and thought I had to go down that road of being a top software engineer at a big company like Google or Apple, but really I think it’s important to leverage the opportunities and the things you might be scared about and the things that are unknown, and for me, entrepreneurship was one of those things. I stepped into not knowing what was going to happen, and I find myself today better for it.”
Find out how to get involved in the Start-Up Career Fair by checking out the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs website.