De Oro Devices Wins Startup Contest

“Why is SoCreate in SLO?”

“There’s not much tech in that area.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if you were located in the Bay? Or LA?”

“Where is the heck San Luis Obispo?”

“S-L-O. Like slow, like a snail?”

And the questions go on and on. Between media interviews, out-of-area conferences, and friends and family, I’ve been asked any number of questions about my experience working for a screenwriting software startup in little ol’ San Luis Obispo. But after attending the Central California Angel Conference (CCAC), all my doubts about the startup culture in SLO have been allayed. Hundreds of industry folks turned out for this event, and let me tell you, there is nothing “slow” about the speed at which this culture is growing. To prove it, the community is putting their money where their mouth is.

To date, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) Small Business Development Center has helped establish 75 local startups, raising more than $43 million in capital. Some of those startups were on display at the Center’s CCAC’s $100,000 Pitch Competition April 18. I was impressed by the six incubating companies who were vying for that angel investment. From Matis Technology, a company that’s 3D printing carbon fiber for use in the aviation and automotive industries, to Tastry, a company using AI to determine consumer flavor preferences for wine with pinpoint accuracy, the technology being developed in SLO is varied and exciting.

The investors were most interested in De Oro Devices, awarding a $100,000 investment to the startup. The company invented ‘The Gaitway’ to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Compatible with canes and walkers, the device sends audio and visual cues to restore mobility to people who experience freezing of gait, which prevents them from moving for minutes at a time. The company’s mission is emotional and moving, and I can’t wait to see how it changes the world. Founder and CEO Sidney Collin hopes the device will also improve the lives of people who suffer from stroke and other debilitating conditions.

To think that these cool companies are all finding success in SLO makes me proud to not only hail from here but be part of the startup team at SoCreate that chooses to build its business on the Central Coast. It may not be Silicon Valley, but the support for local tech is palpable and exciting. I’m confident that the Central Coast is a place for entrepreneurs to thrive, and I’m thrilled to be part of the action.

Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach