February 5, 2023
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Cal Poly student startup sold


A San Luis Obispo startup founded by Cal Poly students has been acquired by a Silicon Valley firm, marking the second sale of a student business from the school in two years.

Quest.to, which was founded during a Startup Weekend event in 2012 and then attended the HotHouse summer accelerator program organized by the school’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, started out being called Grappple. It’s an app that allows users to select a goal such as climbing a certain number of mountain peaks and then track their progress toward that goal.

The team consists of current student Ross McKelvie and recent graduates Garrett Lauringson, Alyssa Pelletier, Will Hitchcock and Nathan Mock. The company was purchased by Whodini, a workplace engagement and productivity software firm in Silicon Valley.

“Quest.to came to our attention just as we were examining a pivot to a goal tracking app,” Bjorn Stromsness, director of business development at Whodini, said in a press release. “We saw where Quest.to was and thought it would be a great jump-start for our efforts. We are using Quest.to as a foundational part of Goalchi,” a new product the firm hopes to roll out by year’s end.

“It’s really quite gratifying for all of us at Grappple to realize the fruits of our labor,” Garrett Lauringson, Grappple co-founder said in a release, “and to know that the technology we developed as students will be instrumental in the future of what we believe will be a very successful new product offering with the introduction of the Goalchi app. The Startup Weekend SLO and CalPoly’s HotHouse incubator program for entrepreneurs were great support and learning environments. They were key in positioning Grappple for this acquisition.”

The acquisition follows the 2011 acquisition of Punch’d by Google. That company was a loyalty app for physical retailers similar to a traditional punch card but with cutting-edge updates.

In its first two years, the HotHouse accelerator has incubated 17 student teams, and 65 percent of those teams have launched new business ventures, the school said. These companies have raised more than $1.3 million in seed funding and created 20 full-time and 28 part-time jobs, according to a release. Rent and overhead on the physical space in downtown San Luis Obispo are supported by donations from businesses in the community.