Consulting Services

The SBDC has the expertise to help you understand your path to commercialization.  Business consulting assistance is available to anyone interested in launching a startup or expanding upon the foundation of their existing small business.

All services provided through the SBDC are offered at no cost and are strictly confidential.

We offer a wide variety of general business consulting services such as:

  • Basic Operations
  • Business Model Development and Business Planning
  • Strategic Planning
  • Finance
  • Access to Capital (SBA Loans)
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Human Resources

We also offer Technical Assistance in areas such as:

  • Technology Transfer and Commercialization
  • Research & Development Funding from SBIR and STTR grants
  • Intellectual Property Issues
  • Alternative Financing (Crowdfunding, Angel/VC Funding)
  • Technology Networking and Resource Identification
  • Prototype Development

Our Consultants

Marketing and Sales

barry lieberman

Barry Lieberman

Sales and Marketing

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Barry has 36 years’ experience enabling organizations to enter & scale & new markets, become the industry go to brand, and improve sales and customer retention by executing best in class customer care. He has a BS degree in Business/MIS from Cal Poly SLO and an MBA from Chapman University.

Greg Leschisin

Integrated Marketing & Brand Positioning

Kelly Sooter

Strategic Planning, Brand Management and Marketing

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Kelly has over 30 years of entertainment, consumer products and retail experience with executive roles in business strategy and development, marketing and sales. As General Manager and EVP of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Studios, Kelly has extensive experience developing go-to market strategies, brand marketing and product launches. Kelly has worked closely with the biggest media and retail companies around the world including Disney, Comcast, Fox, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Netflix and Apple.


Kristin Mehiel


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Kristin Mehiel is a sales and marketing expert with 20 years of experience. Most recently, Kristin was an integral member of the executive teams at two national companies. She was the Head of Sales and Market Development with Experts Exchange, leading the B2B sales strategy and corresponding teams; and she was the Director of Market Development with Kibo, formerly Shopatron, a SaaS-based, distributed order management eCommercecompany. Prior to moving to the Central Coast in 2005, Kristin was the founding publisher of DiningOut Orange County, the leading publication for fine dining and specialty restaurants.  

Kurt Friedmann

Customer development, sales

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Kurt has a 20-year background in customer feedback management, training and development, and sales management. He’s worked with startups to established Fortune 500 companies and is the founder of The KJF Group and CEO of WorldMentor.

Lisa Simon

marketing, sales

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Honored for teaching excellence and club advising, I have held positions in a broad range of industries, including nonprofits, sole proprietorships, and a major corporation. As the driver behind Cal Poly’s new Sales Minor, I act as a liaison between industry and Orfalea College of Business, coach competitors in the Orfalea College of Business Sales Competition and National Collegiate Sales Competition, advise the student marketing club (AMA – American Marketing Association), and coordinate Cal Poly’s Marketing Career Conference.

Lynn Metcalf


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Lynn is a Hood Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She holds a Ph.D., Marketing and International Business from University of South Carolina and a Master in International Management, Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Mark Bieraugel

Market research

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I’m an author, public speaker, consultant, instructor, and academic business librarian.

I have written and presented on: academic library spaces and how those spaces help creativity and innovation, applying lean principles to managing radical innovations in academic libraries, how to create a welcoming environment for non-binary job seekers and employees, and big data and data literacy. I am currently completing a book on job searching: The 3 Most Powerful Communications: Research Your Way to a Great Job!

As an business librarian I provide research consultations to diverse range of students and community members. I create and teach information literacy classes for business, economics, and entrepreneurship classes. I am passionate about student success, especially in helping with the job search.

Paula Dempsey

Marketing, communications

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Paula has over 20 years of marketing and PR experience. She has a passion for branding, digital marketing, and social media. Paula holds the ICSC Certified Marketing Director (CMD) designation and has a BS, Communication Arts from Cal Poly, Pomona.

General Business

Jolie Ditmore

General business, medicine

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Jolie is a San Luis Obispo local and a Cal Poly graduate. She has worked in the healthcare industry for 20 years, as a CEO of healthcare organizations and as the owner of a consulting practice.

Jose Huitron

General Business, español

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Jose is a founder and startup community builder leveraging over 10+ years’ experience in digital marketing, event execution, venture design, to partner with startups and various clients helping them launch and scale innovative ideas. Previously served as the President of the Latino Startup Alliance, a Silicon Valley based organization helping to accelerate Latino led tech ventures. He is also the Founder at Santa Maria Valley Tech (, an online community platform highlighting all things tech and entrepreneurship in northern Santa Barbara County.  

Kristen Wilkinson

General Business

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I am an experienced human-centric leader with 10+ years of experience in high growth, cross-collaborative, global/remote teams. I consider myself an innovative brainstormer, creative problem solver, and a big believer in diverse and collaborative teams and solutions. I believe that HAPPIER people produce better work and culture needs to be woven through systems. I enjoy providing a psychologically safe space to share ideas, provide input, and come up with solutions or perhaps that next big thing! I value communication, growth-mindset, emotional intelligence, diversity, and trust.

Sara La Forest

Leadership, teams, partners

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Sara has worked nationally as a consultant and coach since 2004 and has broad experience in the private, nonprofit, education, and government sectors. Her companies have specialized in leadership, team alignment, organizational development, and executive and performance coaching. Sara is the owner and principal of LaForest Coaching and Consulting and has served as a mentor and consultant for CIE and SBDC since 2013.

Finance and Operations

Ahmed Deif

Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Operations

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Dr. Ahmed Deif is an Associate Professor of Operation and Supply Chain Management. Before joining Cal Poly, Dr. Deif was an assistant professor and the program director of the industrial and service engineering department at Nile University in Egypt from 2010-2013. Dr. Deif was also an assistant professor at the industrial systems engineering dept., at University of Regina in Canada from 2008-2010 where he still serves as an adjunct professor. He is also currently an adjunct associate professor at the Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Windsor in Canada where he served as a visiting scholar from 2013-2014.

Amy Porter


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Amy brings 20+ years of experience in working with small businesses. She has a strong background in helping companies find a bookkeeping system that works best for their organization. Amy enjoys working with clients on understanding financial reports, gauging the health & profitability of their business.

Cecelia Lobdill


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Cecelia Lobdill, CPA, has over 35 years of experience as a financial professional with expertise in accounting, finance, business planning and analysis, and administration.  Ms. Lobdill has been a consultant to numerous high tech startup companies for the past fifteen years, serving as interim or acting CFO for companies in the fields of software (SaaS and non-SaaS), construction, data communication, IT services, and manufacturing.   She has held senior positions in several companies in software and manufacturing fields.

Damon Watkins

Quickbooks, Finance

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Damon is an experienced Accounting Manager with a 15+ year track record in multiple aspects of financial control, management and policies and procedures. He is a strong operations professional with a Associate’s degree focused in Computer Engineering & Economics from University of Durban.

Javier De La Fuente

Packaging, Product Design

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Javier is an industrial and graphic designer with more than 20 years of professional experience. He is a specialist in creating innovative and conceptually solid designs in a variety of 2D and 3D formats. 

Jean Davidson

Data Scientist

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Jean has extensive experience both at the bench in molecular biology research as well as applying bioinformatics and genomics solutions to a variety of agricultural, biomedical, and other biotechnology applications. Her focus is on leveraging computational technology to advance biological research. She received her PhD in Genetics at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, has years of collaborative research experience with various consortium science projects like ENCODE and the Undiagnosed Disease Network. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology, focusing on genetics and bioinformatics and serves as the Co-Director of the Bioinformatics and Applied Data Science in the Center for Applied Biotechnology. She also is the co-founder and CSO of Cerro Data Science.

Rolando Locci 


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Rolando is a senior operations, strategy and financial planning consultant. Over his 20+ year career, he has advised leaders at multi-billion-dollar corporations such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, 3PAR, Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems and Hitachi Data Systems, as well as small businesses and startup ventures.
Rolando works closely with clients to generate informed and successful business strategies by systematically solving marketing, sales, production, labor and financing challenges. 

Susan Steeb


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Susan is a Finance and Business Operations executive with over 25 years of diversified experience in entertainment, technology, mobile gaming and clean tech. She is dedicated to an entrepreneurial spirit driving business values through solid financial management, creative and strategic operations and interpersonal development.


Lori Jordan

pitch prep, startup

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Lori Jordan has been a founder, early startup team member, and executive to help build a newly formed group at a Fortune 500 company. Her career has been varied with time working in new media technology, digital entertainment, and textiles. After selling her textile company, Lori served as the Director, Student Innovation programs at Cal Poly where she ran and built out the accelerator and on-campus incubator programs as they moved into the next phase at Cal Poly, SLO. Most recently she worked as an executive at a Bay Area startup in the Machine Learning space and is currently working on new projects.

Matt Hutton

Grants, government contracts

Mitch Emerson

General business, startup

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Mitch Emerson has over 25 years of professional experience in the areas of software development, computer networking technology, marketing, and corporate strategy.  He worked for 15 years at Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, and Polycom in a variety of individual contributor and management roles in a wide variety of business areas including product development, marketing, network design, customer training, competitive strategy, and M&A. He then went on to start his own SAAS company which offers a product that helps medium to large enterprise companies develop and manage their competitive sales strategies.

Human Resources

Lisa Sperow

Legal, human resources

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Lisa Sperow is an attorney with over 25 years of experience. She currently is the Executive Director of the Cal Poly Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and a board member of CAP-SLO and the San Luis Obispo Women Lawyers Association.  She has taught courses in legal research and writing, employment law, tax law, business law, ethics and international business law. Prior to joining Cal Poly, she was a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch in Washington, D.C.

Morgen Monie

human resources

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Morgen Monie is a versatile leader with 10+ years of Human Resource and Leadership experience in technology and sales organizations working for companies such as MINDBODY, Target, and Gap Inc.  She thrives in highly innovative and complex organizations that value an outstanding employee experience.  Morgen is very passionate about diversity and equality in the workplace and has created dozens of programs supporting employees of a minority demographic.  She has also taught courses at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, ranging from Human Resource Management, Staffing and more.

Food and Beverage

Jeff Wade

food, farm, Beverage

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Jeff works with local start up and early to mid stage businesses, primarily in Food and Beverage industries, and also supports tech, transportation, manufacturing and other market segments. Jeff has held senior management positions in the software industry and became an independent consultant in 2010 to focus on the marketing needs and budgets of small, local businesses. Jeff holds a BSEE from WPI and an MBA from Pepperdine. 

Germain Michel

Restaurant, Beverage

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Born and raised in Rhone Valley, France next to Lyon, the food capital UNESCO of the world. Germain moved to the US when he was 21.  He opened and created five different restaurants/bars between the Bay area (San Francisco, Oakland, Marin County ) and New York City.  He currently has over 70 employees and has been featured in Forbes, Sf Chronicle, Michelin guide (5 bib gourmand awards), and the New York Times for the top 50 places to go in the world. He is also a wine producer (Domaine du Somail, France 92 points Parker guide & Malbec Mendoza, Argentina) He is a certified sommelier and has a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing.  He speaks English and French.



BJ Klingenberg

Software engineering, computer science

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BJ has over 36 years of industry experience leading software teams and providing
computer services to customers. His career encompassed diverse management and technical
positions where he drove strategy, acquisitions, architecture, software development and
quality assurance.

He holds a BS from the University of Illinois and a MS from the University of Arizona.

Tom Katona

product development

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Tom holds 9 patents and has led product development teams at several startups. Tom holds a Ph.D. from U.C. Santa Barbara in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a MBA from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

Paul Anderson

software engineering, computer science

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Dr. Anderson is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Dr. Anderson directs the Data Science Research Group at Cal Poly where his team specializes in developing and applying data mining, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to the fields of bioinformatics, genomics, biomedical informatics, and metabolomics. His research group also specializes in the foundations of data science with a focus on explainable and fair ranking algorithms. He has served as the Director of Data Science at the College of Charleston where he founded the first MS in Data Science and Analytics in South Carolina. Dr. Anderson is actively engaged in Software Engineering and Data Science with extensive experience deploying AI and machine learning systems in production. 

Tech Specialists

Chris Heylman

Med-Tech, business development

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Dr. Chris Heylman is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  He received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.  He also holds a B.S. in General Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  Prior to joining the faculty at Cal Poly, he founded and served as CEO of Velox Biosystems, a clinical diagnostic startup.  

Sky Sartorius

Aerospace, product development

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I have had the pleasure of working on unconventional fixed-wing airplanes and rotorcraft/VTOLs, commercial and military unmanned systems, general aviation aircraft, electric and hybrid propulsion vehicles, autonomous systems, and more. From drafting the initial requirements and the first napkin sketches, to crafting multi-disciplinary optimizations and trade studies, to detailed design, testing, and manufacturing, I endeavor to create aerospace vehicles and systems with capabilities that never existed before.

Ulrika Lidstrom

Biological and agricultural

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I am passionate about the power of microbes and innovation! For over a decade I’ve worked in the biotechnology industry at small start ups and large corporations. My research and leadership roles have focused on discovery and early development of commercial biologicals for the Energy sector, Animal Nutrition and broad acre crop Agriculture. I work with companies to translate biology into sustainable solutions with a lasting positive impact on the world with a special focus on agriculture and food systems.