Cal Poly to Host March 29 Angel Conference, Where Central California Startups Will Compete for Funding

SAN LUIS OBISPO -- Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) will host local startups in a competition for up to $200,000 in equity-backed funding at the first-ever Central California Angel Conference at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at the Alex Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo.

John MacFarlane, founder and original CEO of Sonos, will deliver the keynote address at the event, which drew applications from entrepreneurs from across Central California. Only six selected finalists will have the chance to pitch their ideas in front of investors and the audience.

Each investor contributed $6,000 in a fund set up as a limited liability company (LLC). About 60 percent of investors are from San Luis Obispo County, 30 percent are from Santa Barbara County, and 10 percent are from Fresno County.

“Attendees to the Angel Conference will have the chance to get acquainted with exciting startups from throughout the Central California region,” said Judy Mahan, CIE Incubator director and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) director. “They will see them compete in front of influential investors and will learn from and engage with an esteemed keynote speaker. This event is the first of its kind held by the CIE, and we are thrilled to launch it in San Luis Obispo.”

MacFarlane cofounded Sonos in 2002, serving as the CEO and on the board of directors until 2017. For the past decade, MacFarlane has helped build a global leadership team consisting of the best marketing, operations, acoustics, software, hardware and design innovators in the world. Sonos, which has achieved $1 billion in revenue, is the pioneer of the smart home audio sector, the benchmark for how modern music lovers listen to music in the home.

In 1992, MacFarlane also cofounded and served as the CEO of He and the team built large-scale Internet-based email systems for the world’s largest telecommunications companies. become a public NASDAQ-listed company in 1999 and in 2001 merged with to form Openwave.

The inaugural Central California Angel Conference is open to the public. Tickets are $35 for students, $150 for individuals, or $800 per table of eight. The admission fee includes entrance to the event and dinner. Advanced registration is required. To register, go to

The Central California Angel Conference is presented by Pacific Premier Bank.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Central Coast community and support the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region,” said Rob Osterbauer, executive vice president/market president of Pacific Premier Bank’s San Luis Obispo office. “The Central California Angel Conference will support young entrepreneurs and help build companies that will drive our economy in the years ahead. It’s a natural fit for Pacific Premier Bank.”

About the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The CIE opens a world of entrepreneurial opportunity to Cal Poly students, faculty and community members and promotes entrepreneurial activity and dialogue across the university and throughout San Luis Obispo. For more information, go to

About the CIE Small Business Development Center
The Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center is funded in part through a subcontract between Cal Poly, the city of San Luis Obispo and UC Merced, under the current cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBDC is a top resource for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, offering no-cost, expert one-on-one business consulting, training and online courses in startup assistance, debt and equity funding, sales and marketing, international trade and product commercialization. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit

Contact: Candice Conti

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