Poly Canyon Ventures (PCV) a new non-profit recently announced its presence on the Central Coast at Bang the Drum, a small-batch craft brewery, located on 950 Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo.
“We wanted to create something that would give back to the community and strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Cal Poly and the Central Coast,” said Nathan Johnson, chair of the Board of directors.
The company is founded and run by Cal Poly students and alumni with the goal of assisting fellow Cal Poly students’ startups to facilitate their entrance into the HotHouse.
“The SLO HotHouse is a community space created through the efforts of Cal Poly, the city and county of San Luis Obispo, the business community, and the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The goal of the SLO HotHouse is to support students and community members as they work to create new innovations and start business ventures,” according to the CIE’s website.
“That is really one of our main metrics,” said Sean Reilly, executive director of PCV, “how many startups [that we fund] get into the Hothouse.”
San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon spoke at the unveiling party on the City’s desire to redefine the relationship with the students of the college. Harmon has gone so far as to hold “open office hours” at the HotHouse on the first and third Mondays of the month from 3 to 5 p.m. It was during one of these sessions that she first learned of PCV from Nathan Johnson.
“I think you’re seeing a whole new attitude and a recognizing of how fantastic these students are at Cal Poly. This is a perfect example of that,” said Harmon. She went on to say, “I think it’s really remarkable and profound with what’s going on with this venture capital fund.”
Johnathan York, co-founder of CIE spoke to the small gathering endorsing the company. York said that he was at first spectacle of the venture, but after seeing the tenacity and passion of PVC he decided to support them.
“We need really, really ethical, smart, interested investors just as much as we need really, really, ethical, smart startups,” said York.
Despite ‘venture’ being in its name, PCV is not strictly defined by a venture capitalist model, in which, funds are given in hopes of a greater monetary return or an influence percentage of ownership. The company leans more towards an angel investment model, where funds are given in support of the aid the startup rather than capitalize on its success; think GoFundMe versus Shark Tank. PCV also utilizes SAFEs (simple agreement for future equity) as a funding tool. SAFEs are non-debt instruments that were created by Y combinatory, a “seed accelerator” investment company, to replace convertible notes.
“I think right now,” Reilly said, “for undergraduate students it is a real challenge to get exposure to early stage investing and getting a good solid foundation entering the industry immediately after your degree.”
What may set PCV apart for other investing companies is its dedication to promote “socially and environmentally responsible business and investing practices.”
“When we were creating Poly Canyon Ventures,” said Reilly, “we wanted to have a dimension of the organization that supported sustainable business practices.”
PCV wants to inspire and instruct companies that they are investing to be social and environmentally responsibility. Reilly used the example of having companies who are developing apps examine the different social aspects that may arise and affect the direction of the company.
For more information or to apply for funding, visit; http://www.polycanyonventures.org/
By Mark A. Diaz, Photos courtesy of Poly Canyon Ventures