Category Archives: Computers

Episode 68: Lies and Hardware Startups



If you have ambitions to create a company, but scared because someone said that hardware is hard, allow me to prove to you otherwise. Pretty much everyone funds hardware and it can be bootstrapped. There are a lot of ways to get off the ground and I am more than happy to debunk the myths. By managing expectations and translating hardware phases to stakeholders, everyone chills out and things get produced. Trust me. Here are some things that are awesome: Kickstarter, makerspaces, Arduino, robotics, rockets, CRISPR Cas9.

Bio:

Shaun Arora is an angel investor and entrepreneur who has grown NEO Tech as part owner. He’s on the board of several successful startups, and brings his experience to help hardware startups scale and be resource efficient at Make in LA. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Shaun went to work as a cultural anthropologist for consumer packaged goods companies. In parallel he was active in starting several non-profits focused around mentoring. In 2005, he joined the electronics manufacturing business, NEO Tech, and worked to scale the business. As a result of his leadership, the business has grown 40X in that time and has over 3400 employees servicing the aerospace, industrial, and medical device industries. In 2015, Shaun official spun off Make in LA from the contract manufacturing business to improve learnings and outcomes for hardware startups. He remains a director at NEO Tech. At Make in LA, Shaun focuses on leveraging NEO Tech’s resources to support the startups, leveraging his portfolio for best practices, providing world class programming, and building strategic partnerships for the benefit of the startups.

@ShaunFromLA


Episode 67: From Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur



Jeff began his career at IBM. After 3 uneventful years, he moved to Google to help launch the Google Apps (now GSuite) business. After running the Education team for 4 years and growing the business to 70% market share, he transitioned to help launch the Chromebook product line and drove the go-to-market strategy.

But 6 years and 2 major launches were at Google was enough. Following this 6-year stint helping launch new businesses at Google, he joined other Xooglers to help launch Upstart the first lending platform to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to price credit and automate the borrowing process. He is now leading Powered by Upstart, Upstart’s new white label offering for banks.

The transition from employee to intrapreneur to entrepreneur may seem daunting – but it’s easier than you think. Come hear about Jeff’s story and the lessons you can take away from his experiences.

Bio:

Jeff joined Upstart after spending 6 years at Google. He launched and built the Google Apps for Education business, growing market share from zero to almost 70% in its first four years. Jeff spearheaded marketing efforts for Google Apps in Global 2000 accounts and led sales, business development, and go-to-market strategy for the launch of Chrome devices in the education and enterprise sectors. He spent several years in direct sales at IBM, always exceeding quota, and was a founding engineer and led UI developer at SSB Technologies. Jeff holds a BS in Computer Systems Engineering from Stanford University.
Twitter: @jkeltner


Episode 64: Venture Capital – What they look for in funding a startup



Find out what venture capitalists look for in a startup and what makes a company fundable. One size does not fit all! Will also cover alternative funding sources and why venture capital isn’t right for many types of businesses.

Bio:

John Waller is a partner at Okapi Venture Capital. Okapi is a local, early stage, tech venture fund. Prior to joining Okapi, he co-founded such companies as Resume.com (acquired by Adecco S.A.) and 24/7 Real Media (NASDAQ: TFSM), and was CEO for X1 Technologies, Managing Director of New Ventures Group for Idealab, and Strategic Development and M&A for Mattel. He is also the founder and Managing Director of Green Thumb Ventures.


Episode 59: Digital Democracy and our “Digitzenship”



People believed that new technology would increase efficiency, productivity, and human capability while generally driving down cost, waste and poverty. Politically, many hoped the success of technological development would ultimately promote the values of democracy empowering both the companies and individuals within. Unfortunately, the contrary has taken place, as the “citizens” of this digital society more accurately resemble undocumented residents with trivial influence on culture and policy. These digital dwellers are internet users at the mercy of despotic powers who exercise their control though products, services, and technologies.The data generated by digital dwellers is being taken away and sold to the highest bidder without compensating its owners. It is the despotic digital powers that pray upon the dwellers, completely stripping away their individual, political, and economic liberties. The monopolized platforms and products continue to oppress and consume the digital world by coercing the digital dwellers into apathy. Personal freedom, privacy, and value are consistently being deprived as many decisions are made in the name of us, despite us. However, there is a common theme of rebellious objection that we have seen throughout the history of societal development. In the digital society this theme is exemplified in a call for decentralization. In a decentralized digital economy, we shall only profit from our own digital assets. We shall be in complete control of our digital assets without losing any value to negotiation, time, or bias. It is imperative to recognize that we have arrived at a crucial breaking point that will either liberate or further oppress our digital freedom. We must acknowledge the esoteric threats posed by the system and its congruence with the despotic powers that control the usage and environment of technology. Fellow Digitzens, it falls upon our shoulders to uphold these rights and fight against any form of centralization or despotism that comes from any organism, living or nonliving.

Bio:

Wallace Lynch is a Serial entrepreneur, seasoned tech-media expert, startup community connector, associate professor, and economist. Founder and Chief Economist of Alpha Token, HSHub, MenuMeet, JianyueApp; Cofounder of Svinsight, SVACE. Columbia University Ph.D.

Twitter handle @AlphaToken_ATK
relevant #hastags: #blockchain, #digitzen, #creator, #content, #content economy, #youtuber, #influencer, #crypto, #cryptocurrenty, #student, #digitaldemocracy


Episode 58: 3D printing a Colony on Mars



As humanity moves closer to our vision to settle the moon, and then Mars, the ability to generate critical infrastructure “on site” in space becomes increasingly important for cost control, timelines and safety. 3D printing with indigenous Mars materials in an autonomous robotic way, before humans set foot on Mars may be the key. My team has been participating in the NASA Centennial Challenge to 3D print a Mars Habitat for the past 3 years to develop this concept and technology.

In this presentation I will first illustrate how our adventures started from the garage, while being unfunded and understaffed. We borrowed key hardware components, including a pasta machine that substituted for a clay printer extruder and a 10 foot robotic arm, from industry and academic partners. We even generated our own Mars regolith simulant based on volcanic basalt rocks we handpicked in Northern Israel.

Despite many challenges, ranging from limited access to materials, short deadlines, and zero dollars in funding, we were able to print the first physical deliverable, which significantly outperformed the NASA required minimum in initial mechanical testing. In delivering the second physical deliverable, we struggled with optimizing the curing time and heat exposure to the printing nozzle. However, we overcame operational challenges, recruited new team members from around the world, and increased the printing accuracy.

The BubbleBase team was recently “adopted” by Caltech, in a strategic move to enhance our US presence and increase manpower working on the project, especially in the field of robotics and autonomy. The talk will elaborate on additional challenges currently facing the team, including: merging teams from different disciplines and cultures, technology challenges in material science, robotics and civil engineering, funding requirements, and operational challenges. It will conclude with the team’s plans for the future (on Earth, and on Mars) and how you can follow our work and get involved in the project.

Bio:

Helen Wexler is an award winning “ArchiTech,” positioned at the intersection of architecture and technology. She is the founder of Caltech-BubbleBase, an aerospace project developing technology to 3D print and robotically assemble housing on Mars for the NASA Centennial Challenge. She has served as architect in leading New York and Austria based firms before becoming a technology analyst in the VC industry.

Helen was previously Director of the The Jnext Hi-Tech & Entrepreneurship Program at the Jerusalem Development Authority, where she oversaw the emerging tech ecosystem of Israel’s capital city, while innovating economic development policy. Ms. Wexler holds a degree in Architecture from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design where she is Lecturer on “Technology Paradigms in Architecture.” She is a graduate of the MEET MIT Computer Science Program and Israel Academy of Arts and Sciences (outstanding honors). Helen was named to Forbes Israel 30 under 30 list and has recently completed the International Space Studies Program as an Ilan Ramon Scholarship Fellow.


Episode 56: From Carmen Sandiego to Vroman’s: Why I Write Fiction for less than Minimum Wage



For much of his life, Ken Goldstein was the consummate Silicon Valley insider. In the 1990s, he worked at Brøderbund Software, in charge of all things related to the Carmen Sandiego franchise of computer games. When Brøderbund was acquired by its rival in 1998, Ken moved to Disney Online where under the mentorship of Michael Eisner, his team launched Toontown and the entertainment giant’s other early forays into interactive online entertainment.

In 2006, Ken took the reins as CEO & Chairman of Shop.com, a comparison shopping marketplace with a patented single cart checkout solution backed by Bill Gates, Amazon.com, Yahoo and Oak Investment Partners. In 2010, Shop.com was acquired by Market America where the marketplace continues to thrive.

Then Ken returned to his true passion: writing. With a nod to social realism, he set out to paint the world of technology madness in authentic fiction. His first novel, This Is Rage, was published in 2013 and optioned for Broadway. His second book, Endless Encores, was published in 2015. His third book: From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption, releases on June 12, 2018.

Ken will talk about his new book, his time in and out of Silicon Valley, his experience running some of the most beloved properties in online entertainment, and share some of the key school-of-hard-knocks lessons that made him both a successful tech executive, and later on a successful author. Feel free to ask him really awkward questions about what it’s like to survive in the unforgiving worlds of literature and technology. Hint: technology is way easier!

Vroman’s Bookstore will be on site with all of Ken’s books available for purchase.

About the author:

Ken Goldstein advises start-ups and established companies on brands, creative talent, e-commerce, and digital media strategy. He publishes the business blog CorporateIntel.us and is currently chairman of the board at ThriftBooks Global and Good Men Media. Previously he served as Chairman & CEO of SHOP.COM, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Disney Online, and VP/Executive Publisher of Entertainment & Education for Broderbund Software. Ken is the author of three novels all published by The Story Plant.

About the new book:

“From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption” is the story of an entrepreneur who finds himself in an awful fix and ducks into his previous life as a musician in hopes of waiting out the war. It doesn’t work. The book’s protagonist can no more escape his present than he can remake his past. What he can do is try to hold onto his values, his belief in what matters to him, and figure out how to start over again in a world that says it believes in innovation but only seems to reward the outcomes of success that are entirely unpredictable.

Victor Selo had blown up his life. A wannabe rock star turned tech savant, he’d wagered his Silicon Valley executive position on a corporate inside straight and lost. Having security escort him out of the building was the bestthing that happened to him that day. The rest left him in the hospital, broken, broke, and with no prospects.

That’s when a shadowy stranger with questionable motives came with an offer: a chance to get his life back – and better – if he simply cooperates. It would require becoming invisible for a while, but he would be hiding in the spotlight, playing guitar in a Vegas cover band. Reluctantly, Victor accepts and begins an odyssey he never could have imagined. One that involves a charismatic lead singer who owns the stage but aspires to own an Elvis wedding chapel, a mesmerizing woman who can play anything on her keyboards and can really play with Victor’s head, and two specters from his old life offering competing devil’s bargains. Suddenly, multiple futures are opening up in front of Victor – each comes with potentially catastrophic risk…


Episode 47: Why hardware hacking is more compelling than a fancy Cambridge degree



Alex will recount his exciting story about becoming one of the most talented young hardware developers in the world, and why his pursuing his passion for building hardware was more compelling than earning a degree from one of the finest universities in the world. He will share his perspective on the value of a degree from a top university, and how he sees his own path forward as both compelling and logical. Alex is part of a growing movement made famous by prominent venture capitalist Peter Thiel with his Thiel fellowships which give $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom — “College can be good for learning about what’s been done before, but it can also discourage you from doing something new.”

Bio

Alex Williams is a young maker from the UK who has spent the last decade working on hardware projects, from assembling a first generation home desktop printer aged 10 to more recently developing complex electromechanical hardware platforms. His latest hardware project, the open-source underwater glider, won the 2017 Hackaday prize. At the beginning of the year he started at the University of Cambridge, UK, however he dropped out after a few weeks of study to pursue real world hardware development.


Episode 46: The Future of Blockchain Beyond Cryptocurrencies



This is a must have talk for technology business leaders looking into the future of blockchain for your organization. We will go beyond the cryptocurrency use case and ICO’s to understand what’s current and next on the roadmap for blockchain. Features and properties of the blockchain ecosystem will be discussed by looking at various platforms.

Bio

Hung Q. Tran, is a 22 years technology veteran who builds and oversees world class engineering teams to design, create, strategize, produce, launch and release groundbreaking products, applications and software. Mr. Tran formerly lead Machinima Inc. as founding CTO, a digital video entertainment network acquired by Warner Brothers Digital. Mr. Tran works on an AML/KYC compliant version of Bitcoin, and is currently leading The Change Group, LLC., a new company focused on blockchain as its President and CEO.

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/hungtran


Episode 44: From an iconic summer festival to ChefBox



Two of the original team members behind the iconic 626 Night Market has launched an innovative food retail concept, matching top-quality local talented chefs and hungry consumers with a straight-forward, efficient storefront concept. In this talk, Patricia and Albert will be talking about their entrepreneurial journey being at the start of 626 Night Market, to the current launch of ChefBox, and about their plans of the future.

Bios:

Patricia Huang runs the largest summer night food festival in the USA as Live Marketplace and Vendor Management of 626 Night Market for 6 years to date, managing market economics and logistics of 200 vendor booths per event, managing menu items across all events and working closely and supporting chefs during their startup. With her unique experience and knowledge in managing vendors and entrepreneurship within the massive (100,000 customers per event) events, she created a guidebook Selling at Events and Festivals: An Insider’s Guide from Top Veterans (https://www.amazon.com/Selling-Events-Festivals-Insiders-Veterans-ebook/dp/B00VTO4GS8) to further help the chefs and small entrepreneurs succeed in the events space. Together with Albert, she had co-spearheaded and broke the world record for World’s Largest Cup of Boba Tea (https://www.worldrecordacademy.com/drinks/largest_cup_of_Boba_Tea_626_Night_Market_breaks_Guinness_world_record_213536.html), which news coverage reached as far as China and Taiwan.

Albert Chu ran the Special Projects and Operations divisions of the 626 Night Market for 3 years, designing and building memorable landmarks that gave customers various meeting focal points and photo opportunities. These special projects include Lantern Lanes draped above the event fairgrounds, an 8’x8’ 626 Night Market branded cube at the entrance of every Night Market, dozens of free-standing walls used for mural art battles, and the World’s Largest Cup of Boba Tea. He also worked with Patricia to standardize marketplace operations with training manuals for the section managers, maintaining excellence in event operations after his departure in July 2014. While he was working with the Night Market, he was part of a full-time leadership development program at Baxter Pharmaceuticals, where his various projects streamlined operations in numerous functions and won global excellence awards.

Instagram handle: https://www.instagram.com/eatchefbox/


Episode 43: Authentic Storytelling



Ryan Williams, the author of The Influencer Economy: How to Launch Your Idea, Share it With the World, and Thrive in the Digital Age, has built an actionable framework for telling better business and personal stories. His storytelling structure is a new approach for crafting and scripting your 3 authentic stories to tell in any room, anytime, to anyone.

Los Angeles-based author Ryan Williams teaches his step-by-step guide to telling your authentic brand story. He instructs how to build a core community around your idea, collaborate with key influencers to grow your base, and build a brand that changes the world. For the last three years, Ryan interviewed over 100 influencers who have built culture-changing online such as: Seth Godin, Brad Feld, Derek Sivers, Troy Carter, Jemele Hill and many others. His authentic storytelling framework helps brands, leaders, and companies anchor their brand stories, grow their influence, and thrive in the digital age.

Bio

About Ryan: Ryan Williams is an author, keynote speaker, and former stand-up comedian. He authored the book, The Influencer Economy, a top-seller on Amazon. In his book, he teaches readers how to launch their stories, collaborate with influencers, and thrive in the digital age. For more book info, visit theinfluencerbook.com (http://theinfluencerbook.com/). Ryan’s work and writing has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, The Observer, Success Magazine, Business Insider, Social Media Examiner, and USA Today. On his podcast, also titled The Influence Economy, Ryan has interviewed over 100 influencers who have successfully built ideas online, including Seth Godin, Willie Geist, Derek Sivers, Troy Carter, Jemele Hill and many others. You can listen to his show at www.influencereconomy.com (http://www.influencereconomy.com/).

Ryan was an early team member at social media marketing firm, DigiSynd (acquired by Disney for $16 million), and Machinima.com (acquired by Warner Bros. for $100 million). He has given keynote talks and led panels at SXSW, VidCon, TIE-Con Canada, & Google. He’s also lectured classes at Vanderbilt University, City University of London, USC and Loyola Marymount.