The Entrepreneurial Experience: Students Take Unique Products to the Market

A student works with wiring in a lab

Jack Ponza connects the wires for the SLO Opulance project. Students in the ITP 467 capstone learned how to create a startup by designing, creating, marketing and selling a product. (Photo/Jahan Ramezani)

Written by May 24, 2024

Partly inspired by the two peaks featured in the Cal Poly shield logo, a team of Industrial Technology & Packaging students created a mid-century modern chair that is both easily assembled and environmentally friendly.

“The Oka chair is a completely flatpack chair that was designed based on sustainability,” said Will Scruggs, one of eight students on the team. “Two chairs are able to be produced from a single piece of plywood, minimizing waste in any area we can.”


A student works on an LED lilght project in a lab

Soumya Bakshi works on a prioject in the ITP 467 class. (Photo/Jahan Ramezani)

The students comprise one of four teams in a capstone class, ITP 467, that mimics the entrepreneurial experience. The class requires students to brainstorm, manufacture, market and sell a product in a ten-week span.

“I think 467 is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students that asks them to do the impossible, and somehow, they figure it out by the end,” said B.J. Yebisu, who is teaching the course, along with Rafael Guerra Silva.  “Some alumni remark that 467 was harder than any project they’ve taken on in their professional careers, giving them the confidence to face any challenge once they made it to the ‘real world.’”

With prompts provided, the teams created four different projects, which also include a convertible picnic basket, an LED fixture, and a wine and charcuterie table. Each team will sell their products online and at the May 30 San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market.

A faculty member instructs students in a lab
A student uses a sander to smoothe a piece of wood
A student measures a piece of wood
A students writes on a white board
An overhead shots of students collaborating on a project in a lab
A team of students discusses a project
A studeent works on a wood project
Detail shot of a student using a sander on wood
A team of students collaborates over a drawing in a lab
A student measures wood in a lab
A student measures a piece of wood
Students create a project in a lab surroundeed by wood sheets
A student connects wires in a lab
A student works with wires in a lab
A student uses an electric saw in a lab
A student pontificates on a laptop
A group of students collaborate ideas in a class
A student uses a drill in a lab
A student figures somehting out on a laptop
Students measure a piece of wood
A faculty members speaks to students
Students manufacture a wooden chair in a lab
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Photo gallery: Students build their products in the ITP 467 capstone. (Photos/Jahan Ramezani)

The capstone emphasizes agility and flexibility, Yebisu said.

“The shortened timeframe means there’s a lot less time for ego to get in the way of design decisions, and students have to be willing to pivot to make decisions that will work within the timeline,” he said.

The timeline places less emphasis on creating a perfect product, he said, allowing for valuable feedback that will drive product development.

“The short timeline also means there’s less time for our students to ‘learn from zero,’” he said. “Students have to be able to walk into this course at least somewhat prepared and build upon what they’ve learned in previous courses to help them keep the ball rolling.”

Students on each team take on separate roles — including manufacturing lead, marketing director, sales executuve and more — and have to make use of the skills gathered throughout the program in order to succeed.

The course has equipped students with essential project management and leadership skills, said Sofia Rogel, whose team is created the flat-pack wine table.

“Through collaboration in large teams, we’ve honed our ability to think quickly and adapt to unexpected challenges,” she said.

Here are the four projects in this year’s capstone, with links on how to purchase their product:

Product: TREKit

Team: Evolve


A promo shot of a picnic basket for saleTREKit is an innovative convertible picnic basket that transforms into a sturdy table. It includes organized interior storage solutions, ensuring easy portability for outdoor excursions.

“Our inspiration for the convertible picnic basket stemmed from a passion for the outdoors and a desire to create a product that enhances outdoor experiences while being functional and elegant,” said team member Bruno Klass. “Our product would be great for picnics, camping trips, and beach trips, offering a practical and stylish solution for outdoor adventures.”


Product: Opulent light

Team: SLO Opulence


Artistic light fixtures light up an outdoor dinner table

This product transforms glass bottles into decorative LED fixtures. The lights are ideal for bars, lounges, and hotel lobbies but will also add an elegant touch to outdoor entertaining spaces.

The unit comes with an empty wine bottle, though consumers can use their own favorite bottle.

“With a growing emphasis on sustainability and repurposing materials in the world today, the idea of transforming glass bottles into functional décor pieces aligned with our eco-conscious mindset,” said Opulence team member Soumya Bakshi.


Product: The Port



The Port is a handcrafted serving piece made from redwood and pine. It features four slots for wine glasses and a detachable centerpiece that enhances serving charcuterie. Targeted toward restaurants and professionals in the wine industry, it can be disassembled into a flat pack for easy storage.

“Ideal for warm seasons, it elevates outdoor wine experiences at picnics or concerts in the park,” Rogel said.


Product: Oka chair

Team: Green Team Innovations


Promo shot of a wooden chair for sale

A single piece of plywood makes two Oka chairs, and the chairs are covered with a waterproof protective stain, allowing them to be used either indoors or out.

“The inspiration of this chair came from San Luis Obispo,” Scruggs said. “The side of the chair was inspired from the two mountains visible from Cal Polys campus and in the Cal Poly logo.”

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