Category Archives: Investing

Episode 53: Interview with Vince Major & Jorge Garcia of Alpha Token.



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.


Episode 51: Stars Aligning: How Southern California Could Be the Next Great Tech Ecosystem



As a twenty year veteran of the SoCal tech/start-up ecosystem, Andy brings a thoughtful perspective about SoCal’s journey to becoming a vibrant tech hub. In his new role as the first executive director of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation ( http://www.alliancesocal.org/ ) Andy is chartered with helping accelerate SoCal’s ascendancy to becoming the world’s next great tech ecosystem. He will share a comprehensive assessment and key insights based on a newly published report by Boston Consulting Group commissioned by the Alliance for Southern California Innovation (full written report at https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/stars-aligning-southern-california-next-great-tech-ecoysystem.aspx ). Learn about how SoCal stacks-up, where we are doing well, where we need help and the role for organizations like the Alliance and Innovate Pasadena to “bend the curve” on this vital effort to create start-ups, quality jobs and address key challenges facing society.

Bio:

Andy Wilson

Executive Director

Alliance for SoCal Innovation

Andy is a leader in the Southern Californian innovation ecosystem and has started, led or invested in more than two dozen tech start-ups. In addition to leading the Alliance (www.alliancesocal.org (http://www.alliancesocal.org/)) as Executive Director, he serves on the City Council for the City of Pasadena and he is a founder of Innovate Pasadena (www.innovatepasadena.org(http://www.innovatepasadena.org/)), which is dedicated to advancing the Eastside of Los Angeles as a vibrant innovation center for deep tech.

Previously, as founder of Momentum Ventures, an early stage tech accelerator and venture fund, he personally led more than a half dozen SoCal tech start-ups and invested in almost a dozen others. He previously held senior executive roles (President, SVP Product, CIO, COO) at Overture Services/Yahoo!, RiverOne, Bowne & Co and RR Donnelley & Sons. He has extensive board experience in not-for-profit and community organizations such as Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena Heritage and STEAMCODERS. He is on the board or an advisor to a number of tech firms including Virtualitics, Expanse3D, Vincente Capital and Bryce Capital. He is a regular speaker at entrepreneurs’ events and business schools and was named one of the 50 Most Innovative Men in the San Gabriel Valley. Andy holds an engineering degree with honors from Dartmouth College and received his MBA with a concentration in operations and technology management from Harvard Business School.


Episode 48: The Future of Virtual Reality



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.

Bio

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


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 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.

 


Episode 42: Women in Blockchain



Blockchain is poised to become one of the seminal developments in technology, and some talented women are leading the way in adapting blockchain technology across a wide array of industries.

Blockchain spending is expected to grow 81.2% annual from 2016 – 2021. $945 million was spent on blockchain solutions in 2017, with the spending expected to skyrocket to $2.1 billion this year. Women in Blockchain and Crypto want to enable women to thrive in the booming blockchain space by growing our network of like-minded women to create opportunities for networking, education, and professional advancement in the blockchain space.

Two female leaders in blockchain will give a presentation on the current landscape of blockchain, the applications of blockchain technology across a variety of industries, and also discuss their own projects including putting AI on the Project PAI blockchain and exploring uses for blockchain in healthcare.

Bios:

Sho Guo

Sho Guo is the VP of Marketing and Partnerships at ObEN, an artificial intelligence company developing Personal Artificial Intelligence (PAI), a 3D intelligent avatar that looks, talks and behaves uniquely like its human counterpart. ObEN is an early adopter of Project PAI, a fully decentralized blockchain based network designed to give people trackable ownership and management rights to their PAI. Prior to ObEN, Sho was the Director of International Marketing for Caesars Entertainment and spent 5 years working in television and production, including work on the Beijing Olympics for NBC. Sho is an Emmy award winner with an MBA from UCLA Anderson, B.S. in Management Science and B.A. in Film from UC San Diego.

Stacy Jain

Stacy Jain is a Director of Strategy and Program Execution at Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s largest and most innovative integrated health care providers. An experienced executive consultant with a demonstrated history of delivering large, complex healthcare systems and programs in the hospital & health care industry, Stacy has continuously driven business solutions via technological innovations along with her exceptional leadership in building trusting partnerships across multi-disciplines. Previously she has worked with other healthcare organizations such as Dignity Health, Catholic Healthcare West, and L.A. Care Health Plan. Part of her current mission is to execute an agile transformation strategy to enable the business to quickly adapt, make investments at the right places and to improve speed to market. With more than 15+ years in defining, shaping and evolving the delivery of patient care, she has a relentless passion to stretch and advance digital healthcare, especially in mental/behavioral health care.

Stacy has recently been looking at applications of blockchain in healthcare with an emphasis on security, medical record sharing and humanistic information economy. Stacy is also working on building women-led communities in AI and blockchain. Her goal is to build communities in the Los Angeles area which would empower more women to participate in the blockchain industry.

Twitter Handles: @ObenMe @ProjectPAI

Speaker emails:

Sho Guo: sho@oben.com

Stacy Jain: Stacy.Jain@gmail.com


Episode 41: The Death of Innovation



Over the course of my career in both fortune 500 companies and start-ups, I’ve had the privilege of working on a few special, innovative teams that disrupted markets. I’ll talk about some of my favorite innovations and their origin stories. In each of these stories, I hope to highlight how fragile a new great idea can be and how in each case they almost didn’t happen. That way we are all better equipped recognize them and come to the rescue.

Bio

Rob Kent is CEO of First Wave Partners, where he actively invests in, manages, and consults tech and med-tech start-ups. Rob considers himself an “inventor’s best friend,” bringing significant development, finance, supply-chain, and distribution expertise to a business plan. He is the first to admit that he rarely has a good idea, but loves to help make good ideas great. He is currently shepherding two companies to market, a stem cell harvesting company Synova Life Sciences, and a clean-energy company Power Hero.

Previously Rob was CEO of O2 Concepts, a start-up medical device manufacturer of portable oxygen equipment. Rob and his team disrupted the industry by launching the first connected portable oxygen devices in a partnership with Verizon. This allowed caregivers to monitor equipment location and patient compliance, and propelled O2 Concepts to 5X growth in three years.

Prior to that he’s led sales and operations teams of over 200 people and operating budgets of over $40M, launched over 10 complex Medical Devices through FDA and European approval, and building out sales and operations teams in start-up and high growth environments.


Episode 40: Building Companies While Running Startup Accelerators on Three Continents



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.

Bio

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: paul.orlando@gmail.com


Episode 39: Pasadena Startups: Past, Present and Future



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.

Bio:

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.


Episode 38: Where the future demands will be for jobs and what skills will be most needed



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.

Bio:

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.