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BizHawk: Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet Prepares New Startups with Summer Accelerator

Cellular Sales’ California expansion begins in Goleta, Yasa Yoga installs a “hearing loop,” and Community Bank of Santa Maria to consolidate branches

Urbavore’s Jason Maier, left, and Alex Kalish speak with Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet executive director Dave Adornetto at the small business incubator space.
Urbavore’s Jason Maier, left, and Alex Kalish speak with Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet executive director Dave Adornetto at the small business incubator space. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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The Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet — a partnership between the city of Goleta, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and UC Santa Barbara — is taking a group of six startup businesses and preparing them to get off the ground with its G2 Summer Accelerator program.

“The primary goal is to try to give, really, entrepreneurs a foundation to start, launch, run and scale their businesses,” GEM executive director Dave Adornetto told Noozhawk.

The program’s startups are DermaChill, EV Match and Vibe, which formed at UCSB; Dog Spot and SoundCrunch, which originated at Santa Barbara City College; and Urbavore, started by graduates of UC Berkeley and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

The startup teams, which Adornetto said are at different phases of their development, are given a wide-ranging curriculum two days a week and have access to professional mentors from a wide variety of fields, from law to manufacturing to fundraising.

The accelerator is “giving me, literally, all of the tools that I never would have had if I had just done it on my own,” Rashelle Smith of Dog Spot told Noozhawk at the GEM’s small-business incubator space at 600 Pine Ave.

Smith’s startup produces dog beds that comfortably secure dogs while still allowing them to move around.

Urbavore is developing an “urban agricultural appliance” that that allows city dwellers to grow their own food, reducing the environmental impact of food production.

“We originally came in here saying, ‘OK, the value proposition is that there’s just horrible environmental impacts from food production; what can we do about that?’” Jason Maier of Urbavore told Noozhawk.

“And I think (the program) helped us get a sense of how to hone our business focus towards a consumer market that allows for people to actually solve a problem in their own lives,” he said.

The seven-week pilot program, which kicked off June 27th, is effectively a full-time job for the teams, who are preparing to showcase their businesses Tuesday at a “Demo Day” at the Bacara Resort and Spa at 8301 Hollister Ave.

“Before this accelerator, I took one business class,” Smith said. “And at the end of this, I am the founder of an LLC. I have contacts in China, I have contacts with a really good patent attorney.”

Cellular Sales’ California expansion begins in Goleta

Cellular Sales, a company that operates wireless-phone stores for Verizon, is expanding into California, and has set up its first Golden State store in Goleta’s new Hollister Village shopping and apartment center at 7000 Hollister Ave.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based company has been wanting to expand out west for a while, but had to examine the area’s high cost of living and other financial considerations before setting up shop, California regional director Jahi Edwards told Noozhawk.

The 23-year-old company is expanding rapidly right now, he said, and the current 570 or so stores are expected to pass 600 by the end of the year.

Cellular Sales had existed before Verizon, Jason Lee, another California regional director, told Noozhawk. It became the telecommunication giant’s leading retailer after Verizon bought out all of its older, smaller carriers.

Verizon “somewhat hand-picked” Hollister Village, Lee said “because the nearest (Verizon) store is about 15, 20 minutes away in Santa Barbara.”

“The numbers really showed that that area truly needed a direct-store type of presence,” he added.

Another location, the regional directors said, is slated to open in Santa Maria in the next few months.

“We create an environment that allows people to come in and have no wait times, to be served and have a full-service environment where it’s a one-stop shop,” Edwards said. “They don’t have to rely on other locations that are further away, have longer wait times or don’t have the product that they need.”

“Hearing loop” assists hearing-impaired yoga-goers

Yasa Yoga, located at 22 W. Mission St., has just installed a “hearing loop” to help hearing-impaired patrons.

The system was installed by OTOjOY, a Santa Barbara-based tech company.

Hearing loops, also called audio induction loop systems and audio-frequency induction loops, consist of cables laid down around an area that transmit sound to hearing aids electromagnetically.

Wires were installed under Yasa Yoga’s floor and transmit what the studio’s instructors speak into a microphone connected to the system, OTOjOY founder Thomas Kaufmann told Noozhawk.

A hearing loop was recently installed at Yasa Yoga, said Wayne Rich, Thomas Kaufmann and Chelsie McCarthy. Click to view larger
A hearing loop was recently installed at Yasa Yoga, said Wayne Rich, Thomas Kaufmann and Chelsie McCarthy.  (Courtesy photo)

Only hearing aids can pick up the sound, he said. The hearing loop system is compatible with about 80 percent of all hearing aids on the market.

“The user receives a crystal-clear audio feed comparable to an audiobook, and it takes out all the echo and background noise and clutter sounds,” Kaufmann said.

The system comes in handy with verbal queuing from the instructor, such as instructions for making sure one is in the correct pose or taking the right corrective breath, Chelsie McCarthy, co-owner of Yasa Yoga, told Noozhawk.

“This is something we’re doing for a unique community, to reach out to people who we obviously want to be able to enjoy something that we’re passionate about,” co-owner Wayne Rich said.

Among other places, OTOjOY hearing loops are currently installed in Santa Barbara’s Lobero and New Vic theaters and UCSB’s Campbell Hall, and will soon be added to the Arlington Theater and the Santa Barbara Bowl, Kaufmann said.

Orcutt branch of Community Bank of Santa Maria to close

Community Bank of Santa Maria customers living in Orcutt will be using the bank’s main branch come the end of October, as the bank prepares to consolidate the two branches.

Effective October 28, the 15-year-old bank’s Orcutt branch, located at 4869 S. Bradley Rd., will be consolidated into the main branch a few miles north, at 2739 Santa Maria Way.

The Orcutt branch’s staff will all be transferred into various branches and departments within the bank, and customers won’t have to make any changes or take any action during the consolidation process, president and CEO Janet Silveria said in a statement.

“After the consolidation, all deposit accounts and loans at our Oak Knolls branch will be serviced at our Santa Maria Way office,” Silveria said. “The Santa Maria Way branch is in close proximity and provides additional banking services including drive-up banking, night depository, and safe deposit boxes.”

The bank also has a branch at 1421 S. Broadway, and Lompoc Community Bank, at 705 W. Central Ave., is a division of the Community Bank of Santa Maria.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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