Hot Shot Fire Pits were designed to bring people outside with family and friends. | Courtesy Photo

Twelve students. 70 days. 120 Hot Shot Fire Pits.

Cal Poly Industrial Technology and Packaging students have been immersed in the business world through Applied Business Operations (ITP 467). The students behind Hot Shot Fire Pits are one example of what the combination of entrepreneurship and teamwork can cultivate.

The capstone course is taught by industrial technology professor Jim Bentley and utilizes the technical and mechanical skills students have acquired over the years. These skills are strengthened and challenged by developing and selling a product in 10 weeks. The class encompasses the Learn by Doing mentality by conditioning students to work together in large groups.

“My overall goal is to give them real work skills when they get into industry,” Bentley said. “[This class] allows you to have the incubator experience of the college campus before you go into [the] work force to learn how to interact with your peers on a basis where you are continuously adding value.”

Students chose the product they made. After three weeks of deliberation at the start of Spring 2018, the team decided on a project they all felt passionate about.

“We wanted to create a product that would provide a positive social environment for our consumers, so we thought about a fire pit that essentially encourages people to be outdoors with the people that they love,” industrial technology and packaging junior and Operations Manager Kevin Sun said. “That’s kind of been the backbone of our project.”

According to Sun, the product is designed for every outdoor setting while maintaining an aesthetic appearance. The standard pit has engravings of flames and mountains on its sides, which are illuminated by the fire. The pit is also encased by a shelf, which comes in redwood and granite, for resting food, drinks and feet.

Upon the start of the project, each member invested about $300 of their own personal funds to support their 10-week business. They also used GoFundMe to raise more than $2,000, which primarily went to purchasing locally-sourced materials and resources.

After rendering and prototyping, the group began both the manufacturing and marketing processes. Everyone was delegated either a managing or an engineering position to contribute to each business facet. The students work in the industrial technology and packaging metals lab as well as the architecture shop in Engineering West (building 21).

“It’s really inspiring to get hands-on experience and work on a product that’s actually going to be built and sold,” industrial technology and packaging senior and Production Manager Kasey Wakasa said. “It’s a great stepping stone into the industry.”

One of the greatest challenges for the group was balancing production with sales.

“We have to break even on the money we put in and how much money we need for materials,” industrial technology and packaging senior and Assistant Operations Manager Grant Beadle said. “It’s going to cost us $10,200 to do this project.”

To find their selling demographic, the team dedicated time to market analysis and research. To meet their target market, they have visited Farmers’ Market and local businesses.

“We’re aiming for people in their 30s who [have] a steady income and probably have a house and a yard,” Beadle said.

The team understands that the $200 cost of their fire pits may be over budget for the average college student. They have been offering deals for orders of five or more fire pits for greek life and local organizations. The buyer will receive each pit for $150 and have the option of custom cutouts, on the side.

As the quarter comes to an end, the team works toward selling what remains of their Hot Shot Fire Pits. More information about the product can be found on the Hot Shot Fire Pit website.

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