In 2015 Uber launched WINE, a personal-driver service for wine-tasting excursions, right here in San Luis Obispo. A couple months later, MINDBODY joined the elite group of born-and-raised San Luis Obispo companies to complete and initial public offering. And it didn’t take long after Promega Biosciences bought a local firm in 1999 for the SLO office to become one of the most important organic chemistry facilities in their international portfolio.
San Luis Obispo with its 300,000 countywide residents is home to a number of national and international companies that value a high employee work-life-balance, have adopted progressive wellness polices, and understand that today, you don’t need to sacrifice quality of life to have a growing and innovative business, even on the international stage.
We went to a few of these companies and asked them, “Why SLO?”
Uber Wine | Andy Iro
“WINE, is Uber’s on-demand, low-cost option for those interested in going wine tasting.
At Uber we have a term called #celebratecities. That means understanding the culture of that city then weaving Uber as a solution into its fabric. When thinking through whether to launch any product within a city we consider the potential impact and who could benefit. With WINE in SLO County, it made sense.
The geographic landscape of SLO County provides certain challenges that we believed our technology could help solve. After working with local stakeholders to understand seasonality and local v tourist dynamics, we felt the growing presence of Uber on both a national and international stage could be a complement to SLO’s vibrant vintner community.
We hope as we continue to grow the WINE in SLO, and develop the WINE product more broadly across the company we can take the learnings from riders and feedback from local members within the wine community, then continue to make product improvements specific to the market.”
Promega Biosciences | Kris Yetter
“At Promega Biosciences, we develop organic chemistry products that are used by life scientists in pharmaceutical drug development, genetic identity, and the study of cell biology. With such a specific biological research focus, our connections to Cal Poly are invaluable. Whether it is the access to faculty for consulting or the consistent stream of bright and accomplished students, who inevitably move from interns to long-term employees, the university connection is one of San Luis Obispo’s best technical assets and the reason that our company continues to be based here.
Aside from the research and talent assets, the quality of life available here is unparalleled and is a key factor in employee retention and attraction. The Central Coast is a place where people want to stay and belong. We have found that the environmental beauty and community connectedness are particularly important to employee wellness, especially in the scientific industry which can be particularly high stress. The SLO life encourages healthy lifestyles which in turn aids in developing work-life-balance for strong and healthy employees.
San Luis Obispo has a rich culture that encourages community involvement. Nearly all of our employees are involved in supporting nonprofit organizations which fosters a connection to and responsibility for helping others in our community. This leads to a strong sense of place and once ingrained, people do not want to leave.”
MINDBODY Inc. | Rick Stollmeyer
My Los Angeles-based co-founder and I decided to start our company in my garage in San Luis Obispo in 2001 because there was ample local talent, and I refused to move back to LA. In the ensuing 16 years, our little startup grew into a global software company with customers in more than 100 countries. We now operate satellite offices in Arizona, Texas, New York, London and Sydney, but the majority of our team and most important leadership and creative talent are still located in SLO.
How has this been possible? In addition to the high quality of life, I would highlight the preponderance of healthy happy people who easily align with our vision and core values, our amazingly sophisticated and impactful SLO Chamber of Commerce, the strong influence of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, that dynamism enhanced by the SLO Hothouse, and the easy availability of additional talent in nearby Northern Santa Barbara County. In fact, we recently opened a satellite office in Santa Maria, only 40 minutes away, and have experienced great synergy between the two locations.
The bottom line is that the Central Coast is a fantastic place to build a high quality global company.
We are never leaving!