The Hatchery is an on-campus program for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship that fosters entrepreneurship initiatives and the development of student-led startups. The program is open for all Cal Poly students interested in learning about starting a business and how you get from an idea to a company.

Through mentorship, weekly workshops, startup assignments, and an array of other activities and events, students will gain hands-on experience in launching a company. They will develop essential entrepreneurial skills in communication, goal setting, and leadership. The Hatchery bridges the silos that separate students in their respective colleges with the philosophy that multidisciplinary teams are essential to the success of building a business.

The main pillars of The Hatchery include:

  • Weekly Workshops– Participants  in The Hatchery will meet for weekly workshops designed to provide an interactive framework for teaching entrepreneurial lessons. Instead of the standard “lecture,” mentors will facilitate discussions and activities geared toward various startup topics, such as customer development, pitching, finance, and market analysis.
  • Shared Office Space– 24-7 access to The Hatchery will be granted to participating students that have met certain criteria of business development and commitment. Access will be determined by the CIE Innovation Coordinator, Director of Student Innovation Programs and The Hatchery Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) on a rolling basis. Hatchery teams with 24-7 access will be able to use the facility for meetings, brainstorming, and working on their business as well as for networking with other Hatchery teams. (Hatchery engagement is a requirement for utilization of the space.)
  • Peer Network– The peer network that develops organically at The Hatchery is invaluable. Being surrounded by a group of like-minded and driven individuals cultivates a culture of shared-learning and creativity that’s unique to The Hatchery. Roundtable discussions encourage the flow of ideas and allow students to share valuable feedback and knowledge with others in the program.
  • Mentor Network– The Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship has established a vast network of mentors in the community, from technology entrepreneurs to accountants and attorneys. The Hatchery engages these mentors through content workshops and founders’ stories sessions, and facilitates the connection with specific teams as needed.

** Applications Due: April 30th @ 11:59 PM, NO EXCEPTIONS


  • Accelerator will run from June 19th, 2023 - September 8th, 2023
  • Thursday, May 11, 2023 (by midnight): Accelerator teams will be notified of their acceptance.
  • Friday, May 12, 2023 (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.): Accepted teams have a mandatory pitch prep workshop to prepare 90-second pitches for our May Forum.
  • Tuesday, May 16, 2023 (~4-8 p.m.): Accepted teams have a mandatory obligation to present their pitches at the May Forum.
  • Thursday, May 25, 2023 (All Day): Accepted teams have a mandatory obligation to participate in an industry and alumni networking day in the Bay Area. (We will supply those who need it with a letter to your professors so they are aware you are missing class for a university sponsored event.)


Each Accelerator team will be given up to $10,000 in seed financing, dedicated office space in Downtown SLO, access to our Mentor Network, workshops and more!

Team’s will receive $4,000 at the start of the program and two additional payouts ($3,000 each) at the midpoint and end of the program based on successful completion of the programming and milestones.

Note: The payment schedule is intended to incentivize and ensure active participation in the accelerator program. While it does not accommodate certain financial constraints, it is not intended to restrict anyone from participating. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact Thomas Katona at so we can collaborate on how the CIE can best support you while also ensuring you are able to achieve the optimal outcomes from this CIE program.

Team Qualifications

  • All applicants must have AT LEAST two founders/co-founders. (If you are considering applying and do not have a co-founder, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Thomas Katona at in advance to discuss your particular situation.)
  • Co-founders are full-time participants in the accelerator program (not consultants or contractors)
  • Co-founders must be in SLO for all of the accelerator programming.
  • Priority given to upperclass students.

In-Person, Full-Time Commitment for All 12 Weeks

The program is an in-person experience, hosted at the downtown Hothouse. In-person participation is a requirement throughout the entirety of the program. Given our goal of a co-founder experience,  all co-founder participants must participate in person, full time, for the entirety of the scheduled programming. Each team can include non-co-founder participants in addition to the co-founders. They need to be designated as such at the accelerator interview, with participation in scheduled program activities and events being optional. Designation of co-founders and non-cofounder participants will be verified during the accelerator interview and Co-founder Agreement development process.

All workshops, events, activities, and guest speaker sessions (lunches and dinners) are mandatory for founders/co-founders. Attendance by other participants and other team members are optional.

This is not a class or a school project. This is an accelerator meant to get your full-time business off the ground. As such, we expect every co-founder to be fully committed to the process, to be present every day, and to participate in all workshops/activities. If you plan to take a vacation or to be away for an extended period of time, this is not the program for you. You are committing ~12 weeks of more than full-time work toward your business, and in return, we will commit to supporting you as best we can.

We are looking for committed teams who are ready to work hard, build their business and have an amazing experience!

Cal Poly CIE