Sierra College Co-sponsors Hacker Lab’s Startup Hustle that Supports Sacramento Innovators in Shaping Up Their Entrepreneurial Skills

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Sierra College students, those who want to build their entrepreneurial skills and community members who have an idea but want help to bring their service or product to market can sign up for Hacker Lab's Startup Hustle, an eight week program that helps innovators shape up their entrepreneurial mindset, beginning March 15 in Rocklin and Sacramento.

Myk Powell, refined his idea for MySafeHorse by participating in Startup Hustle, and since completing the program is in production and taking orders.

Hacker Lab's Startup Hustle helps entrepreneurs connect with customers, validate their solutions, develop basic prototypes and then prepare a pitch to entice buyers and funders.

Sierra College is co-sponsoring Hacker Lab’s Startup Hustle to help Sacramento area innovators shape up their entrepreneurial skills and to guide those who have dreamed of creating a new product or service in taking the next steps to start their own businesses.

Pre-events start on March 8 and the eight session weekly program starts March 15 with the pitch night scheduled for May 10. Each week, participants will take action to discover potential buyers, locate markets and engage with customers. Sessions will be offered at both Hacker Lab in Midtown Sacramento and at Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College in Rocklin. Students are encouraged to apply. The investment is $49 for Sierra College students, $149 for Hacker Lab members and $199 for non-members. Learn more and apply for Startup Hustle.

With support from mentors, weekly instruction and startup tools, Startup Hustle participants will examine their ideas through the eyes of customers and refine their concept to meet the market need, explained Dan Casas-Murray, Startup Hustle Coordinator, Hacker Lab. “We help entrepreneurs connect with customers, validate their solutions, develop basic prototypes and then prepare a pitch to entice buyers and funders,” said Casas-Murray. “Working with a group of fellow entrepreneurs helps everyone move forward faster.”

Sierra College is inspiring innovation across the region through college coursework and partnerships with community makerspaces where entrepreneurs can connect with creative makers, start companies and build prototypes using laser cutters, electronics, sewing machines, CNC mills, welders, 3D printers and many other tools, explained Dominic Felipe Gutierrez, Sierra Makerspaces Director. “Hacker Lab has a proven record of coaching people through Startup Hustle to launch new businesses,” said Gutierrez.

Startup Hustle provides real world business startup experience “Participants appreciate developing new skills, accessing mentoring and getting support to take action,” said Gutierrez. “This is an excellent opportunity for students to apply what they are learning in the classroom and meet other people who want to start businesses.”

According to Steve Dicus, Deputy Sector Navigator for Advanced Manufacturing, housed at Sierra College, the customized manufacturing sector in Northern California supports new product developers. “So many people have product ideas but they don’t know how to develop the concept,” said Dicus. “Startup Hustle is the ideal resource to move from idea to prototype and then commercialization. All manufacturers began as entrepreneurs with big ideas.”

Myk Powell benefited from the Startup Hustle program offered in fall 2017 and is now building his business out of the co-working space at Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College in Rocklin. Powell had an idea to create a system for horse owners who wanted to monitor what was going on in the barn. “Going through the Startup Hustle reminded me how important it is to identify your customers, understand the problems that they face and explain your unique solutions to addressing their challenges,” said Powell.

Powell and his wife Roberta indicated that boarding their horses generated the idea for a monitoring system. “The goal of MySafeHorse is to develop a reliable, portable and effective monitoring system that allows horse owners everywhere to know at any given time what is happening with their horses,” said Powell.

Startup Hustle enabled Powell to fine-tune his idea. “We’ve developed a horse-proof camera and portable video camera that clients can use in the stable, on the road, at shows or at the track,” said Powell. “Using artificial intelligence, the system can recognize problems and send owners alerts. Additionally, through facial recognition, MySafeHorse keeps track of who interacts with the horse.”

Powell benefited from the entrepreneurial resources available through Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College. “Startup Hustle provided a path to success and helped us move forward quickly,” said Powell. “If you are serious about your startup, Hacker Lab is serious about helping you. Additionally, I benefited from being able to develop prototypes by accessing tools at Hacker Lab in Rocklin and working with other members to refine the design. I would definitely recommend Hacker Lab and Startup Hustle to budding entrepreneurs.”

Since completing Startup Hustle, Powell has leased a larger office space at Hacker Lab in Rocklin and hired team members, as well finalized the product. “Dan Casas-Murray has continued to be a resource for us,” said Powell. “For instance, he helped me focus on defining our Minimal Viable Product and finalize it so we could get MySafeHorse to market.”

MySafeHorse is currently taking pre-orders, explained Powell. “In the past few months, we developed the proprietary modules, hired technical experts and expect to ship products in the next month or so,” said Powell. “The next step is seeking funding so we can go to scale quickly to meet the anticipated demand.”

Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College in Rocklin attracts many student members who Powell hopes to employ as the company grows. “We’ve already got some Sierra College graduates on the team,” said Powell. “Working with Sierra College and Golden Sierra Job Training Agency, we anticipate helping students gain career experience while contributing to our growing company.”

Sponsors of Startup Hustle include SMUD, Sierra College, City of Rocklin, Sierra Makerspaces, The Shop VSP Global, Sierra College Workforce Development and California Community Colleges Workforce and Economic Development Division.

For more information about participating in Hacker Lab’s Startup Hustle or becoming a sponsor/mentor, please go to the Startup Hustle website or email: startuphustle(at)

For information about Sierra Makerspaces, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (916) 913-2708 or dominic(at) and visit SierraMakerspaces. website. Sierra College is also leading the statewide CCC Maker initiative to build 24 community college makerspaces through a California Community College Chancellor’s Office Workforce Development Initiative under the Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy Framework.

About Hacker Lab
Established in 2012 in Sacramento, Hacker Lab aims to educate folks and spark innovation with community driven resources. Offering co-working, maker space, courses, meet-ups and events, Hacker Lab believes that technology can change the world and the starting point is education. Hacker Lab has locations in Sacramento and Rocklin.

About Sierra College
Sierra College District is rising to the needs of our community. Sierra College serves 3200 square miles of Northern CA with campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Grass Valley, and Truckee. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California (Sacramento north) for transfers to four year Universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills. Sierra graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the region.

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