Customer Stories

Thriving Through COVID-19 with Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Learn how Nichole from the Cal Poly CIE San Luis Obispo HotHouse (SLO HotHouse) utilized Optix to adapt and thrive through COVID-19
Cal Poly CIE SLO HotHouse

SLO HotHouse

Located in the heart of San Luis Obispo, California, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) provides space, resources, and mentorship opportunities for student and community entrepreneurs. The Cal Poly CIE San Luis Obispo HotHouse (SLO HotHouse) is an off-campus community space that is home to programs that support student and community entrepreneurs to build innovative solutions to real-world problems.
“Optix has been a big lifesaver and we will never get rid of it. It's made all of our lives so much easier!”
Nichole McAllister, Operations Manager at the SLO HotHouse
Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - office resources

The SLO HotHouse is a hub of creation and innovation that was founded back in 2010. The incubator and accelerator space was inspired by the motivated students at Cal Poly and the local community members who needed a place to grow their entrepreneurial pursuits. Believing that connection to real-world problems and problem-solvers was key to nurturing innovation, the SLO HotHouse was created. 

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the business community, and the CIE collaborated to bring this leading-edge space to life. When considering the needs of student entrepreneurs, it became clear that community was key. True innovation cannot thrive in isolation, and students needed a place to connect with peers, mentors, and members of the business community. 

Businesses utilize the SLO HotHouse to grow their ideas and solidify their connections to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Students find a place to learn by doing and are able to use the space, resources, and networking opportunities to collaborate on projects that can change the world. The synergy of school and community is the main driving force of talent optimization at Cal Poly. For the talented young minds who make dreams a reality, it all starts at the SLO HotHouse.

Automating everyday challenges to enable the extraordinary

Melding the innovative minds from multiple pockets in San Luis Obispo was no simple feat. From allocating resources to the members who need them, to ensuring payments are received on time, the SLO HotHouse needed automation to grow its community of innovators. 

Nichole’s work changed dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In-person collaboration cowed to digital interaction, and the SLO HotHouse underwent major changes to ensure the safety of student and community entrepreneurs. Being able to customize the plans offered was key to surviving — and thriving.

Optix helped the SLO HotHouse adjust to the changing times brought about by the pandemic. With the Optix mobile app, it was easy to offer digital services and products when in-person gatherings were not permitted. The ability to be agile was beneficial as health guidelines affected service offerings. Flexible invoicing technology and automated billing features enabled Cal Poly CIE to do more for their community, despite the challenges they faced. 

Coworking and Flex Space at Cal Poly CIE SLO HotHouse

Effortless, automatic invoicing

Contacting members to facilitate manual payments was not only difficult to scale, but also time-consuming for Nichole and her team. Optix makes billing easy and automatic for SLO HotHouse with its hands-off automatic invoicing functionality. Nichole appreciates that she can now set and forget ongoing payments, as they are automatically charged to members’ cards on the billing date. 

“People get lost in their work and forget to pay. But the Optix app just automatically charges their card on the first. And it's fantastic. Most of our members do use this feature.”
Entrepreneurs and coworkers at the SLO HotHouse

Customizable plans

The way of work can never be stagnant in an entrepreneurial culture like SLO HotHouse. That’s why it’s crucial for their tech to be as agile as the solutions they seek to innovate. Customizable plans have empowered Cal Poly to adjust memberships to match the ever-changing requirements of running a startup hub. According to Nichole, custom plans have been a lifesaver when offering flexible programs to student and community entrepreneurs.

“We do have a lot of different plans. Custom plans allowed us to offer specific perks, like giving someone a discount because of COVID.”
Header Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Moving forward, through COVID-19 and beyond

As life goes back to some semblance of normal, SLO HotHouse is set to return to in-person collaboration. When Nichole is in doubt about functionality within the app, she relies on the quick and efficient guidance of the Optix support team to learn more.

“The chat support has been super helpful. I’ve used it a lot of times. The Optix support team has really quick to respond, and always helpful. They help solve the problem, and advise me about features that are available or upcoming.”