Opinion: What a difference a year makes for Cal Poly’s AngelCon
By Judy Mahan
This Friday, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Small Business Development Center COVID Task Force congregates via Zoom for our now-monthly meeting — what a difference a year makes.
Last year, at this time, the COVID Task Force met weekly, with multiple triage meetings throughout the week. The goal was to help the task force stay informed on all pandemic-related stimulus packages coming out at the state and federal levels. As a result, we were able to effectively counsel Central Coast small business clients on receiving funding as quickly as possible.
The team was literally working around the clock on general counseling, helping businesses to understand funding eligibility and guiding clients through multiple disaster loan application processes. In all, the Cal Poly CIE SBDC team counseled 674 businesses between March 2020 and May 3, 2021, providing 5,700 hours of counseling and helping 201 San Luis Obispo County companies receive $22.6 million in state and federal funding.
Reflecting on this moment in the pandemic, this was an enormous effort, but at the time, it did not feel like it was. It was all hands on deck to help as many small businesses as possible stay afloat during unprecedented times.
I am proud to say that the Cal Poly CIE SBDC embraced and lived up to our motto of “Helping small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed in San Luis Obispo County.”
Another hurdle the SBDC needed to navigate was how to execute AngelCon 2020. AngelCon is a keystone event for the Central Coast entrepreneur community. Six of the area’s top companies pitch to a group of investors to win $125,000 in equity funding. Additionally, participating finalists often attract outside investors.
Even amid a pandemic, it was paramount that this event came to fruition, as it has a long-lasting economic impact on the Central Coast. AngelCon was initially slated to be an in-person event on April 23, 2020. The event was pushed out to June 30, 2020, and our SBDC staff successfully turned it into a virtual event. Atlas Alpha, led by CEO Trent Ellingsen, was awarded $125,000.
I am delighted to share that AngelCon 2021 will happen, too. Six Central California-based startups will compete virtually in the fourth annual AngelCon pitch competition on June 10, on YouTube Live from 4-6 p.m. The winner will receive $130,000 in angel investment to grow their business — the largest amount in AngelCon history.
• Judy Mahan is economic development director of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and director of Cal Poly’s HotHouse incubator and Small Business Development Center.