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

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.

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.

BJ Klingenberg

Software engineering, computer science

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.

Christine Ridout

CFO, QuickBooks

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Christine is an accounting and finance professional with 25+ years of industry experience. A native of the Silicon Valley, she began her career in public accounting. She audited a variety of industries and found herself gravitating towards the energetic and innovative culture of start-up companies. Her departure from public accounting launched her into a satisfying career at a number of start-up companies.  This environment provided a breadth of experience including management of all aspects of the accounting cycle, budgeting and financial analysis, deal analysis and modeling, system integrations and implementation, and external compliance including tax related matters and SEC reporting.

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.

Doug Klein


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Doug is a Managing Director at Matchfire, a data-driven social good agency. He studied Aerospace Engineering, Music, English and Teaching. A former Walt Disney Imagineer, he is expert at facilitating scientific and creative breakthroughs for businesses of all sizes.

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.


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

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. 

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.  

Judy Mahan

legal, finance

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Judy is the Director of the Cal Poly SBDC and the Incubator Director for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She holds a J.D. from the University of Paris X Law School and an LLM in International Tax Law at Golden Gate University.

Kristen Wilkinson

General Business

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.

Lauren Cooper


Lisa Simon

marketing, sales

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.

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.

Lynn Metcalf

Marketing, research

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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

Marketing, research

Mark Grondin

marketing, sales

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Mark develops technology, sales, marketing and go-to-market strategies and execution plans. He has over two decades of experience working in eCommerce, web/mobile technology, application development and SaaS business models. Mark has participated in almost all areas of the business from executive management to strategy, professional services, client management, marketing and sales.

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.

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.

Paul Anderson

software engineering, computer science

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.

Rolando Locci

finance, operations

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Rolando is a senior operations, strategy and financial planning consultant, offering a complete suite of CFO services to mid and small-sized companies. 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.

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.

Stacie Jacob

Marketing, general business

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Stacie Jacob, Chief Strategist, Solterra Strategies lives for “aha” moments—the milestones that prove unwavering tenacity and hard work can lead to tangible success. A believer in honesty, creativity, and building strong relationships, Jacob combines real-world knowledge, resolute leadership, and execution needed to transform client dreams into concrete success stories. Jacob works with clients representing a unique sense of place: food, wine, agriculture and tourism to promote their bounty and brilliance.

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.

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.