Like every other successful business, Intego Technologies started out as an ephemeral idea. But unlike most businesses, Intego Technologies was launched from concept into reality over the course of 54 hours.
Business administration junior and founder of Intego Technologies, Alexandra Joelson, wasted no time as she and her team competed in Startup Launch Weekend 2019 with one primary objective: to create the most innovative business.
“You’re being really forced to join a startup environment, you’re being forced to join a team and create something,” Joelson said. “That pressure is real, the pressure of creating a startup is not fake. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of pressure and it needs to be done fast.”
Startup Launch Weekend is a 54-hour-long event designed to give participants the opportunity to create an idea, form a team and subsequently work on a business plan for the entirety of the weekend.
On the final day, each team presents their business idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and investors who will then select a winner to receive a cash prize for the development of their business. The amount of the cash prize awarded to the winning team this year has yet to be determined. In 2019, Joelson’s first-place team won $750.
Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) is a student-run organization on campus whose mission is “to provide a community for students to network and share ideas in an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to their website.
The organization meets on a weekly basis and hosts a variety of events each quarter. Startup Launch Weekend, CPE’s first big event of the fall, will take place from Nov. 5-7.
This quarter, Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) made their return to campus as the organization’s meeting attendance soars and they prepare for the highly anticipated Startup Launch Weekend event. In 2020, the weekend-long event was canceled as CPE felt it couldn’t be properly replicated in a virtual environment.
“When [COVID-19] hit, it obviously wasn’t in our plans to just stop everything, but we did have to sacrifice a few things, so that hurt,” economics junior and CPE president Arman Avedian said. “For Startup Launch Weekend, we explored every avenue to figure it out virtually but we found that it just wasn’t possible.”
Avedian said he expects participants to gain beneficial experience in the event this year, regardless of how successfully they end up developing their business idea.
“Whether you continue with your idea or not, you know, you’ve experienced what it’s like to pick an idea and either fail miserably or, you know, keep going and then fail down the line, or maybe you even succeed,” Avedian said.
Avedian said that the most significant short-term benefit of the competition is frequently the comprehension participants gain about the large commitment required to enable their business to expand and succeed.
“It’s up to you and your team to decide if you’re going to stay up until 2 a.m. and go beyond the 54-hour time frame that you’re given,” Avedian said.
Each day of the competition will take place in a separate location; the first day will be hosted at the Hot House building downtown, the second day will take place at the Hatchery on campus and the third day will be at Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center.
Joelson, whose team won the competition in 2019 with her idea for Intego Technologies, found Startup Launch Weekend to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain valuable business development experience.
“[Startup launch Weekend] really throws you into a stressful situation but you really learn and grow and get a lot out of it,” Joelson said. “So I think having that opportunity to feel what it’s like to be in a startup, see if it’s your thing, and see where your strengths are is kind of an opportunity you can’t get anywhere else.”
Since participating and winning Startup Launch Weekend in 2019, Joelson has continued to develop her business, Intego Technologies. The business’ goal is to create innovative designs for durable footwear, which they are working toward patenting and licensing to other businesses.
Kalen Goo is the director of community engagement and former president of CPE. Goo entered the role of president for CPE at the beginning of the pandemic and the onset of virtual learning.
Although Goo entered the role of CPE president during an unprecedented time, he’s confident the organization matured from the adversity they experienced.
“I sort of stepped and I guess stepped into something completely different,” Goo said. “The short story is that we had less people show up. But we grew a lot internally and as a community and we came back this year a lot stronger.”
Goo also said it was difficult for CPE to extend meaningful benefits to its members in a virtual context since so much of the organization’s energy and motivation is fostered during their in-person meetings.
Since their return to campus, attendance to weekly CPE meetings has tripled from about 20-30 members per week to approximately 100.
Business administration senior Matt Daugbjerg recently became an associate for CPE and said he has loved the environment of the club’s in-person meetings.
“I think the most valuable thing I’m going to take from this club is probably being able to interact in-person with other students that have an entrepreneurial mindset and seeing how I can learn from the strengths and weaknesses they’ve developed here,” Daugbjerg said.
While he said about 75% of CPE representatives will be participating in Startup Launch Weekend, Goo said that not every representative of the organization is required to develop a business idea. While the organization supports and offers useful resources to all those within the group who are working toward starting a business, CPE frequently faces the misconception that their primary focus is the development of business ideas.
“Our vision at CPE is to promote entrepreneurship in all forms… The first step to that is breaking the stigma that ‘entrepreneurship means starting your own business,” Goo said. “Entrepreneurship is so much more than [starting a business]. It’s about impact, it’s about figuring out how to learn and create, it’s about being able to network.”
So, while not every CPE representative works toward creating a new business, those who are will be present at Startup Launch Weekend on the weekend of Nov. 5-7 as each team competes to create the most innovative business idea.
Tickets to attend Startup Launch Weekend can be purchased through Eventbrite.