This is the first episode of a new segment for the Friday Coffee Meet-Up Podcast. I’ll be interviewing tech start ups in Pasadena and around the Los Angeles area. In this inaugural episode I spoke with Pasadena start up Alpha Token about how they’re creating a brand new ecosystem for content creators powered by a new cryptocurrency.
Category Archives: Design
Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One film portrays a future world in which VR is at the core of everything society does.
While much of the venture funding for VR from a couple of years seems to be fading, a myriad of startups continue to push forward with incredible innovations in haptics, visual headsets, motion systems, AI, even scent dispensing, which will soon reach a tipping point for the next wave of VR. Creators and story-tellers in the meantime are pushing the boundaries of the medium, starting to find audiences and develop viable business models, as evidenced by the first-ever seven-figure acquisition of a VR short film at Sundance this year.
What does the future of VR look like five years from now? What roles will emerging technologies, creators and storytellers, social networks, media companies and studios play? What are the viable business models that are emerging for content creators?
Join me for a peek at the promises and perils of what VR might become, why you should care, and how you can be part of the “second wave” of this medium, whether you are a technologist, artist, storyteller, or investor.
Jeffrey Travis is the founder and CEO of Positron, a virtual reality technology studio. He created the world’s first full-motion haptic virtual reality chair, Voyager®. His company introduced the world’s first motion VR cinema to debut The Mummy VR experience starring Tom Cruise for Universal Studios. The Voyager platform has been experienced at events around the world such as Sundance Film Festival and ComicCon, and embraced by the world’s top VR creators. It has has been used by studios such as Warner Bros, Disney, Sony, and IMAX. Voyager chairs will be coming soon to theaters, cinemas, hotels, airport lounges, and offices.
Jeffrey is also a filmmaker and engineer. He grew up in Argentina and currently lives in Montrose, California.
Twitter handles: @jeffreytravis. @gopositron
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.”
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.
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.
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/
From Hong Kong, to Los Angeles, to the Vatican. How running three very different startup accelerators over five years changed the way I think about entrepreneurship. Multiple program formats, 100+ companies, tens of millions in funding, lots of customers, exits, all across three continents. The talk will focus on:
• Commonalities growing companies face across locations.
• Getting results: How I try to trick people into learning.
• Next steps in thinking about the future of company growth.
Paul Orlando enables companies to grow. He is Incubator Director and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at USC. Paul has founded and operated successful startup accelerator programs in Hong Kong (focused on mobile development), Los Angeles (focused on growing a wide range of companies with founders affiliated with USC), and Rome (the Laudato Si accelerator, partnered with the Vatican and focused on environmental technology). Companies Paul has worked with have raised tens of millions in capital, served millions of customers, and have been acquired. He has authored several related academic case studies available on Harvard Business Publishing. Paul also helps larger institutions innovate, develop, and grow, especially in lowering the risk of innovation projects, speeding up learning cycles, and transitioning past legacy business models and products.
Paul has been featured in media including Forbes, TechCrunch, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal. He was a winner at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. Paul has a BA from Cornell, an MBA from Columbia, and speaks Mandarin.
Twitter handle: @porlando
Speaker email: email@example.com
Talk a walk down memory lane with Gene as he tells stories of Pasadena Startups Past, Present and Future.
I am the Forrest Gump of Internet – I have worked in the worked with some of the pioneers and innovators all with origin stories to Pasadena: GoTo, Overture, Yahoo, YP, Chegg, WhatsApp, Tinder, Google Adword/AdSense/Photos, Sellbrite. So come take a seat on the bench and listen to my story. Pasadena tech is like a box of chocolates – you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.
Gene is a software veteran and Internet executive known for his expertise in mobile, social, cloud, Big Data, search marketing and eCommerce. He is currently VP of Engineering at Sellbrite.com a eCommerce SaaS startup in Pasadena. Before that he was CTO of Synctree.com a Ruby/Node and DevOps-as-a-Service boutique development shop. He was the CTO of Oversee.net a $100M Consumer Mobile and Domain Monetization company. Before that he was Director of Engineering at Chegg, an online network for college students that offers assistance with homework, course selection and textbook rentals. He was also Executive Director of AT&T Interactive, building and leading teams for YP Mobile, Data Systems and Buzz.com. He also served as Director of Engineering at Yahoo Search Marketing/Overture where he built large-scale search marketing platforms. Gene is currently a on Board of Directors for Innovate Pasadena, a mentor for Mucker Labs, as well as advisor to mobile startups. Gene is a frequent speaker at tech industry events and has received numerous industry awards. He graduated Magna cum Laude with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles and lives in San Marino with a very supportive wife Jacki and 3 kids.
Some of the topics addressed will be why technical skills and programming are necessary for all majors. The importance of including goal achievement in higher education. Creating the right environment for learning and moving education toward a solution based model as opposed to subject based.
Dr. Tao founded the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development and was Director of the school of Computing and Design at California State University, Monterey Bay. Under his leadership, the school grew to have over a thousand students, 50 faculty, staff and researchers, receiving multi-million dollars of funding annually from public and private sources, including a $43 million dollars funding to construct the Gambord/BIT building on campus.
Supported by Economic Development Administration of United States, the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development serves the Greater Monterey Bay region by providing a venue for innovative ideas, the commercial transfer of research and technology, and a support network for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Many companies that supported by the Institute grow to be successful ventures.
Dr. Tao teaches and conducts research in computer engineering, innovation, e-learning and globalization. He has published numerous papers and articles in innovation, high-tech entrepreneurship, educational technology, globalization, medical image processing and higher education. He often speaks at international conferences on global technology, innovation and education issues. He also serves as judges at many business plan competitions.
STEAM:CODERS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, teaches underrepresented and underserved K-12 students the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Students engage in a variety of STEAM-related classes (i.e., Coding and Robotics) and field trips that allow students to learn directly from professionals – scientists, engineers and artists – and see technology first-hand. Our goal is to unlock each student’s potential for continued learning and future success, providing them with attainable pathways to academic and career pathways. We focus on developing their logic, creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Opportunity + Imagination = Innovation.
Raymond Ealy, Executive Director, founded STEAM:CODERS in July 2014. The organization was a spin-off from the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation’s award-winning L.A.M.P. Mentor Program, based in Pasadena, CA. Ealy helped create the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program (L.A.M.P. – Leadership, Achievement, Management and Professionalism) in 2007, to provide soft skill training for underserved and underrepresented high school boys who wanted to attend and graduate from college. The L.A.M.P. Mentor Program students attend and have graduated from schools across the country (i.e., Harvard, UCLA, Amherst, UC Berkeley, Morehouse College, University of Michigan, Marist College, Loyola Marymount, Hampton University, American University, among many others).
STEAM;CODERS was created to address the demand for STEM (and STEAM) training for disadvantaged K-12 youth. STEAM:CODERS has served over 2500 students, since inception. Students have been introduced to the STEAM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The program teaches logic, critical thinking and problem solving, providing attainable pathways for academic and career success. STEAM:CODERS focuses on underserved and underrepresented students of color, who attend Title 1 schools and reside in low-income households. Access to instruction, curricula and equipment, expands their skill sets and increases their exposure to industries and careers that may not be within their vision (i.e., coding, robotics, art and design).
Ealy has over 25 years of management experience in financial services, the nonprofit and retail sectors. Past positions have included management roles with Bank of America, Countrywide Financial Services, Security Pacific Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank. Ealy currently serves on the following Boards: Innovate Pasadena, La Salle High School Board of Regents (Pasadena, CA) and LA’s BEST Advisory Board (Los Angeles, CA). Previous board affiliations include the Pasadena Community Foundation and the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation. He received a B.A. from Florida State University.
The TED tagline is “ideas worth spreading,” but if you want to be one of their speakers or lead one of their events, you need to know how to make your idea stand out from the rest. As the Executive Director of TEDxPasadena, TEDxPasadenaWomen and TEDxPasadenaSalon, and as an attendee at TEDSummit in Banff, Canada, Heather Heimerl Brunold has worked with countless TEDx speakers and curators. Join this lively, interactive conversation designed to identify ways to systematically tackle this dream, step by step.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talk videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)
TEDxPasadenaWomen seeks to transform the local conversation surrounding equity and access for women and girls, providing a launch pad for the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise between industries, socio-economic groups, ages, and life experiences. We believe strongly in fostering learning, inspiration and wonder — by nurturing relationships that begin though conversations at our yearly conference, but then deepen throughout the year at our monthly TEDxPasadenaSalons. We serve, engage, and empower underserved communities, regardless of gender, including women, girls, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities. Our brand collaborates with members, speakers, and community partners from all over the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys (and beyond) to positively impact business and community relationships, cooperative partnerships, public policy, knowledge, civic structures and political systems.
The goal of our annual conference (held this year at the Huntington Library on Saturday, September 30th) is to come together as a community of bright minds with diverse interests, to share discourse inspired by live TEDx talks that are idea-focused and cover a wide range of subjects. We hope the community gathering will foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and which will provoke conversations that matter.
Heather Heimerl Brunold has been a thought leader in education, specializing in adolescent development and family/school dynamics, for more than two decades, but after completing her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, Heather became passionate about utilizing her talents as an educator to impact the greater community. Feeling she could positively influence her community’s approach to how we learn, Heather established Words2Action, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage learners, leaders and educators – through spoken word and tangible action – in a united effort to change the world, one idea at a time. Heather is by her nature a helper, healer and teacher. Her passion for learning and her love of relationship building are the reasons she enjoys serving TEDxPasadenaWomen as the Executive Director/Licensee.
AI is everywhere: AI driving cars. AI replacing doctors. AI writing music. Taxing robots. AI is taking over the world. By tying our data profiles to artificial intelligence, we can breathe life into our personal information and turn them into our very own 3D avatars; avatars that depict our identical likeness and can perform tasks as our representative. ObEN is developing Personal Artificial Intelligence (PAI), a 3D digital twin avatar that looks, talks, sings and thinks uniquely like its human counterpart. ObEN is also the leading developer for Project PAI, a fully decentralized block-chain based network designed to give people trackable ownership and management rights to their intelligent data profiles, or their PAI. In this talk, you will learn more about what role Personal Artificial Intelligence will play in our future lives.
Most AI companies are based out of Silicon Valley, however, ObEN decided to make Pasadena its home. One of the most common questions ObEN gets is: “Why Pasadena? Why not Silicon Valley?” In this talk, you will find out the critical role location plays in determining if a startup can build a team, raise an initial round of financing, get off the ground, compete in the marketplace, and survive.
Nikhil Jain is co-founder and CEO of ObEN, an artificial intelligence company based in Pasadena. Prior to ObEN, Nikhil spent five years at Kaiser Permanente after which he founded two startups, Up and Running Software and OnGreen. Nikhil has an MBA from University of Southern California and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. Learn more at www.jain.ai.
ObEN is an AI company that develops Personal Artificial Intelligence, a 3D digital avatar that looks, talks, sings and thinks uniquely like its human counterpart. ObEN was cofounded by Nikhil Jain and Adam Zheng in 2014 with the belief that every person in the world should have their own AI-driven virtual copy which can do things on behalf of the human for which he/she might not have the time or the capability. Nikhil and Adam started the company based on their personal experiences when their kids missed them as they were traveling on business and wished they could leave a virtual copy of themselves behind.
ObEN is based out of Idealab in Pasadena, CA. All technology is developed in-house and is patented. It currently has a team of 35+ of which almost 70% have PhDs and other advanced degrees from top schools such as Caltech, Berkeley, MIT, Princeton, USC and UCLA. ObEN has raised $13.8 million to date in Series A funding from top investors including Tencent, Softbank Korea and HTC.
List of other investors and partners can be found here: https://oben.me/press/