iStartup Academy

iStartup Academy

Have you noticed a need that needs to be met or a problem that needs to be solved? Do you want to learn how to build a business and turn an idea into a reality?

The iStartup Academy is the first step in converting your vision into a reality!

In this program, you will receive training from our faculty and industry partners, who will provide you with valuable insights and first-hand accounts into the world of building a business from the ground up. Anyone is welcome to apply as long as you have a desire to learn!

By the time you finish this 10-week program, you will be able to:

  • Identify opportunities for new solutions
  • Design services or products to address problems
  • Establish your new company
  • Evaluate customer needs and feedback
  • Determine product or service market fit
  • Finance your business goals
  • Communicate your business to customers and investors

The iStartup Academy has been the starting point for startups such as Pirüli Design and Azuza Beverage.


All workshops and mentor meetings will be held via zoom throughout the summer starting the week of June 1. A final schedule will be posted soon.

Powered By:
Student Innovation Idea Labs
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

iStartup Academy - 2019 Schedule

Location: Bldg. 9, Room 247
Tuesdays 6:00pm - 7:50pm


August 27
Find a problem worth solving.
September 3
Building Your Business Model Canvas (BMC)
September 10
Building Your Team
September 17
Customer Discovery
September 24
Sustainable Business Models
October 1
Competitor Analysis
October 8
Design Thinking
October 15
Market Fit
October 22
Funding Your Idea
October 29
Pitching Your Idea
November 5
Patent Search & Claims
November 12
Semi-Final Pitches
November 19
Refining your Pitch
November 26
Final Pitches and Closing

Edmond Wu

Edmond Wu is a serial entrepreneur who has started businesses in the restaurant, ecommerce, web consulting and real estate industries. In college, along with a few partners, he opened the first Quickly franchise in the United States before starting businesses in the web industry, including an e-commerce business selling shoes and a web development company that created apps and websites for large media companies. Currently, he is owner and broker of Peak Management, a real estate consultancy and management group, as well as a lecturer at his alma mater, Cal Poly Pomona.


Matthew Ryczek

Matt Ryczek is the COO of Idea House & Co. where his team and himself work with start-ups, entrepreneurs, and existing brands to develop, engineer, manufacture, and grow their businesses to be industry leaders. Working in industries such as extreme sports, beauty products, transportation, medical, aviation, and home products there is not an industry Mr. Ryczek has not had a chance to explore and execute in. Mr. Ryczek’s specialties focus in on the viability of a brand and product including market identification/ acquisition, supply chain design, and design for a market fit.


Trayan Kushev

Dr. Kushev received his Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville in 2014. He also received an MBA from the University of California, Riverside in 2010 and a BBA in Finance/Accounting from Valdosta State University in 2007. Dr. Kushev has experience working with both profit and non-profit startups as well as consulting for startups. His research studies the decision-making and cognitive processes of entrepreneurs engaging in the entrepreneurial process. Dr. Kushev's research has been published in journals, such as the International Entrepreneurship & Management Journal and the Journal of Entrepreneurship, and books, such as Contemporary Perspectives on Technological Innovation, Management and Policy, Vol. 3.

Dr. Pohopien

Laura Pohopien

Laura is a Professor of Business and Hospitality Management with expertise in Organizational Behavior, Business Communication and Entrepreneurial Theory. She teaches at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Azusa Pacific University.

Jesus Bermudez

Jesus Bermudez

Jesus Bermudez serves as the Operations Manager for the Student Innovation Idea at Cal Poly Pomona. He serves an important role for the success of the iLab and has studied Small Business & Entrepreneurship at Cal Poly Pomona. While in school, Jesus launched two businesses, one of which was sold and the other launched this year. Jesus is also one of the founders of the Bronco Makers Club, which was created to provide all students at Cal Poly Pomona the necessary resources to build and design prototypes, create companies, and engage in any other activities that encompasses the “learn by doing” philosophy. He is deeply passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation and is always looking for opportunities to make an impact on the community.


Susan Areté

Susan M. Areté is a strategic brand & business development professional who has partnered with entrepreneurs, business owners, and Silicon Valley tech startups to achieve phenomenal results. Having been raised in an entrepreneurial immigrant family, Susan developed a deep passion for the startup community and enjoys serving as a guest lecturer and panelist at Chapman University’s Leatherby Center, Cal State Fullerton Center for Entrepreneurship, Cal Poly Pomona’s Innovation Lab, and the UCI Paul Merage School Of Business.

Thomas Hines

Thomas Hines is the Founder, CEO & Product Visionary of Overwatch Safety Solutions, a high-tech (pre-launch) start-up based in Southern California.

Overwatch is in the DIY Safety & Security space and will be launching its initial product, the KeepSake Intelligent Safety App™, in mid 2017. The primary mission of KeepSake™ is to ensure the safety of today's fast-grow-fluiding Mobile Workforce, with a primary emphasis on the safety of professional women.

Other than brief stints in family-owned businesses, Thomas has been in the high-tech side of the security industry his entire career. He has over 25 years of security industry experience. His expertise ranges from systems design and integration, security technology consulting, and new product development.

Thomas is an experienced business, marketing, and technology professional with multiple security-related patents and patents-pending to his name. He's earned security industry board certifications as a Certified Protection Professional and a Physical Security Professional.

Thomas is a past president of the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium, a state security trade group. He is/has been involved in numerous security industry organizations, including ASIS International and the Security Industry Association. He's also served on a number of business and technology organizations and he is currently an Entrepreneur Advisor to the iLab ESTEME program at Cal Poly Pomona.

Tyrone Howard

A 15yr active duty US Navy veteran that worked for Naval Intelligence as a Chinese Linguist and Training Mgr. After getting out he went back to college, but not for long as while there he came up with, tested and developed an algorithm that matches cool people with other cool people. Then after a year of testing started Get Social – The new old-fashioned way to meet people, as the Founder and CEO. Tyrone is a steering committee member of TechSparks: a social forum for Entrepreneurs, in Pasadena. A Startup Weekend (SW) Facilitator and lead organizer of multiple events including the first ever SW geared toward underserved students. Tyrone is a Producer at a AAA game studio in South Pasadena that focuses on VR games and experiences. Most recently Tyrone partnered with the Pasadena NAACP and Innovate Pasadena to help empower and teach underserved kids in the area about the opportunities available in the vibrant Pasadena tech and startup world.


Ericka Olguin

Ericka Olguin is the Analyst for the Student Innovation Idea Lab (iLab) at Cal Poly Pomona. She is an essential part of the iLab, and significantly contributes to its daily functions and activities. She is an integral and valuable asset to the iLab’s success, and continues to spread its message of innovation. Always having a foothold in business, Ericka owned the independent record store, Johnny’s Records, in La Puente, California for 5 years, selling specialty items and records to DJs and musicians alike. For 10 years, she held the position of administrative coordinator in MHR, College of Business at Cal Poly Pomona. She has always had a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, and is constantly thinking of new ideas and encouraging their possibilities. Her joy is in seeing students succeed, and regularly spends time with her family, sharing her passion for new ideas.

Robert Ozaki

Robert’s 42-year business career began in document handling operations at a major international air courier service.

His initial audit and tax experience was at one of the international public accounting firms and he then worked for the distributor and finance subsidiaries of a major Japanese auto company.

Over his 29 years in the automotive industry he managed tax and regulatory compliance, oversaw accounting and financial planning activities, managed IT projects, and developed standards, policies, and procedures.

His time in internal audit included a 2 ½ year assignment at the financial services parent company in Nagoya, Japan, and he completed his career as a manager of IT risk, control, and regulatory compliance.

Robert has BA in Economics and a Masters in Taxation. He is a California CPA (retired) and a Certified Internal Auditor.

Al Pineda

Al Pineda is a member of the East San Gabriel Valley SCORE and mentors small businesses and startups. His expertise includes business startup, retailing, warehousing and distribution, marketing, merchandising and promotion, advertising, finance and budgeting, and cash flow management.

Olukemi Sawyerr

Dr. Olukemi Sawyerr is the inaugural Director of the Student Innovation Idea Lab (iLab) and Professor in the Management and Human Resources Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is a founding faculty of the Education in STEM Entrepreneurship (ESTEME), the NASA Technology Screen Assessment, and the Startup NASA programs. She received her Ph.D. in Strategic Management from the University of North Texas. She has consulted for several organizations including the Ad Sales Division of Comcast, has taught executive education at the University of California Los Angeles’ Collins Center for Executive Education, and has held visiting professor positions at various universities including the University of Texas at Arlington, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Beijing Institute of Technology. Her research interests include strategic entrepreneurship in emerging economies. She has authored publications in multiple journals including the Strategic Management Journal, International Small Business Journal, Journal of Small Business Management and Journal of High Technology Management Research. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences including the University Business Forum sponsored by the European Commission.

Edmond Wu

Edmond Wu is a serial entrepreneur has started businesses in the restaurant, ecommerce, web consulting and real estate industry. In college, along with a few partners, he started the first Quickly franchise in the United States before going starting businesses in the web industry which included an ecommerce business selling shoes and a web development company creating apps and websites for large media companies. Currently he is owner and broker of Peak Management which is a real estate consultancy and management group as well as a lecturer at his alma mater, Cal Poly Pomona.