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200 miles south of Silicon Valley, San Luis Obispo offers big tech opportunities in a close-knit, university town environment

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Located just a few hours south of the worldwide innovation hub of Silicon Valley, San Luis Obispo boasts a budding tech industry of its own.

From a start-up in a garage to an international wellness leader, companies like MINDBODY are empowering innovation in SLO. The industry leading company, which sells cloud-based software to the wellness industry as well as a popular consumer-facing app, was founded by CEO Rick Stollmeyer in 2001. Despite going public in 2015 and having grown into offices around the world, MINDBODY remains headquartered here in SLO. This company shows the viability of the tech industry in a city like SLO, a place where Cal Poly State University provides a consistent flow of STEM field graduates and average commute times are some of the lowest in the state.

While this trailblazer found its start here, SLO also attracts established innovators to the Central Coast: Seattle-based Amazon, for example, has a growing office in downtown SLO.

In addition to the software side of tech innovation, other SLO-based companies offer hardware tech solutions. iFixit’s technology repair kits forged a new industry of convenient products and guides that reduce electronic waste. BoltAbout is transforming the way we commute with customizable electric bicycles for rent or purchase, delivered straight to your door. The latter was founded by two Cal Poly graduates.

As one of the top-ranked universities in the West, Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” motto means its students are making waves outside the classroom. Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship combined efforts with the local business community to create the HotHouse, a space for students and community members to kickstart their business ventures. From community coworking spaces to small business development consulting, the HotHouse is incubating the tech start ups of tomorrow.

One of those HotHouse startups is WhiteFox Defense, which attracted the attention and investment of venture capitalists at Serra Ventures when it first launched. A pioneer in the global field of drone safety, its unique and proprietary software is layered with hardware solutions to keep people safe in a world increasingly driven by drones.

Tastry, an artificial intelligence company founded by a Cal Poly alumna, is revolutionizing the wine industry by teaching computers to taste. The technology not only tells customers what wines they will enjoy, it also shows manufacturers how they can make their wines more appealing to the consumer.

From the bright minds coming out of Cal Poly to the city’s signature laidback vibes that allow entrepreneurship and creativity to flourish, SLO is a haven for tech innovation.

For more information about SLO’s budding tech industry, you may contact Jacqui Clark-Charlesworth at (805) 786-2770 or [email protected].

ABOUT SAN LUIS OBISPO

On California’s famous Highway 1, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, lies a town nestled between rolling hills and the coast – San Luis Obispo. Basking in a perfect Mediterranean climate year-round, San Luis Obispo, commonly known as SLO, has a charming downtown full of unique boutiques and restaurants in addition to the beautifully preserved Spanish Mission at the heart of the city. With its laid-back, relaxed lifestyle, no one is in a hurry, and certainly, no one is in any rush to leave.

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