Category Archives: News

Episode26: “My First Rodeo”: Campaign Reflections & Insights



After more than 20 years of active public service in the community as a volunteer (including as a co-founder of Innovate Pasadena) earlier this year, Andy Wilson ran for elected office for the first time. Disconnects between expectation and reality were much greater than anticipated (fake news transpires at the local level!). Was it naivety? Or has the modern political process changed dramatically in the last couple years?

In his talk, Andy will reflect on the many lessons learned his “first rodeo.” Specifically, he will share insights on how to run a successful campaign while staying above the unsavory tactics that are unfortunately commonplace. Also, new channels and for local political engagement and better strategies to connect with the electorate with be discussed.

Bio:

Andy Wilson is a serial entrepreneur having led, founded or invested in almost two dozen Southern California high tech start-ups. He has a long history of service with local not-for-profits including leadership roles at Pasadena Heritage, Pacific Oaks College, the Gamble House and SteamCODERS.  Andy is a co-founder and board member of Innovate Pasadena, which is dedicated to advancing the east side of Los Angeles as a vibrant innovation community. He is a frequent speaker on the role of innovation to create high paying local jobs with the goal of enhancing quality of life in our community.

Andy has extensive volunteer experience with the City of Pasadena including service on the Planning Commission, Design Commission, Urban Forestry Advisory Commission and the Pasadena Center Operating Committee. He just completed a two year appointment as the District 7 City Council member and was recently elected to a full four year term after a contentious election.  Andy currently serves on both the Municipal Services Committee and the Economic Development and Technology Committee of the City.

Andy holds a degree in engineering with honors from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He is a graduate of Leadership Pasadena and has completed advanced certificate programs at Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Northwestern Kellogg School of Business.  He and his wife Liz can often be seen walking with their school aged boys (Spencer & Dylan) and rescue dog (Gandalf) in Madison Heights, their home for 20 years.


Episode 24: 5 Hi-Profit Secrets from a Hi-Profit Guy



Red is great for lipstick and the sole of your stilettos  – not so much for your balance sheets and bank accounts. The path to profitability can often be seemingly endless, snarled, and plagued with fender-benders and traffic jams – but it doesn’t have to be mysterious or lonely. And while every brand forges its own unique path, there are five markers that guide the way for them all.

This session will cover the 5 steps all direct to consumer brands must take as they navigate their way towards the black:

1) Product Development & Category Expansion

2) Inventory Planning & Allocation

3) Sales Channels, Marketing & Analytics

4) Financial Plans, People Plan & Operations

5) Funding & Pace of Growth

They say it’s the journey that matters, but when we’re talking about profitability, it’s the destination that makes or breaks a brand.

Bio:

Drew Koven is Managing Director of LDR Ventures, an LA based Venture Capital group that works with early stage fashion and consumer lifestyle brands to incubate, operate and grow with a clear path to profitability. LDR focuses on Fashion and Footwear, Food, Health & Beauty, eCommerce, Omnichannel Retail, Fashion Tech & Retail Tech. Notable investments include: Thrive Market, sweetgreen, Fame & Partners and Bow & Drape. They embrace diversity, impact, inclusion and female founders. LDR is opening an incubator in Los Angeles this summer to address the specific needs of fashion and consumer brands and has recently launched a podcast called The BizFix.

An entrepreneur and intrapreneur, Drew was formerly CEO of The Beach People, a home fashion Company his team took global, achieving 5000% growth, which he sold. His executive leadership roles include: Vice President of Omnichannel retail and eCommerce for Guess Jeans, President of eCommerce and Customer Experience for Steve Madden Shoes, CMO/CDO for Melissa & Doug Toys and CMO of FreshDirect, the online grocer. As a leader and culture builder, he has experienced very low single digit turnover with his teams and mantra of “People Before Profits.”

Drew was awarded as a Top 25 Retailer by Apparel Magazine, Top 3 Mobile Marketer by Mobile Marketer Magazine, Boston Business Hall of Fame Inductee, Virgin Atlantic Entrepreneur of the Year, a 40 under 40 recipient and is an Advisory Board Member of Apparel Magazine. He has his finger on the pulse of today’s global retail environment and the ins-and-outs of starting and growing businesses. He is married with two sons and lives in Los Angeles.


Episode 23: How to Future Proof your Tech Stack



Optimizing your tech stack with key products is essential for business operations and productivity. This talk will cover essential elements and tips for success:

1. Expect Google to lead on computing, storage, and network.

2. Don’t build a configuration server, instead use Google sheets.

3. Not sure who is gonna win the cloud war? Remember docker and kuberbetes.

4. Tensorflow adoption curve can help you meet your AI needs.

 

Bio:

Darian studied Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and then served as a Marine.  While engaged in an enterprise software career over the last 17 years, he has enjoyed creative projects like building VillagetheGame.com, acting, and teaching entrepreneurship overseas.  Some of Darian’s personal interests include hang-gliding, kiteboarding, and staying active with CrossFit.


Episode 22: The Evolution of Twitter



We will take a look at how twitter has evolved over the last 11 years, from 140 Characters to a Live Streaming Platform.

Bio:

Alexa is based in Los Angeles and serves as an Account Executive to Media & Entertainment clients at Twitter. In her 5 years at the social media company, she has worked closely with​ ​many of the major movie studios and TV networks on​ ​innovative ways to market a movie or TV show on Twitter.​ ​Alexa was one of the first sales hires in Twitter’s New York office and also​ ​had the opportunity to start Twitter’s offices in Miami and Mexico City.
Prior to Twitter,​ ​Alexa earned her BA at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She enjoys a home-cooked meal from her Italian family and has likely been to more Phish shows than you.


Episode 21: The Roller Coaster Ride to 40 Million Monthly Users



An honest discussion of the realities of a journey of a of a 5 time successful entrepreneur whose company – Ranker – now reaches 40 million people monthly and is solidly profitable with over 60 employees. Benson will take us through his self-funded beginnings to early angel rounds (partly secured in Pasadena), and funding from “name” VCs like Lowercase, Draper, and Wavemaker, and will discuss not just the success but also the many pitfalls even an experienced entrepreneur faced.

With all his prior success, Benson still did plenty of things wrong in the process of starting Ranker and had to work with less than ideal resources to survive, and eventually thrive. Benson will discuss the challenges of the tech world where massive changes are happening year-over-year and how even disruptive businesses can find themselves quickly disrupted. He will explain how to navigate hype vs reality with investors, and the Silicon Valley investor mentality vs everywhere else, among other topics.

 

Bio:

Clark Benson is the founder and CEO of Ranker, the leading digital media company for opinion-based, crowd-sourced rankings on just about everything. Launched in 2009, Ranker is Benson’s fifth startup. Ranker creates editorial lists to vote on about virtually every topic, and the 40 million+ monthly audience’s opinions shape the rankings. Prior to Ranker, Benson’s company, eCrush, an early social network for teens, was bought by Hearst Corporation in 2006. Benson lives in the Hollywood Hills with his wife and young twins.


Episode 17: Going Global: Localizing a Localization Startup



As a copywriting and translation agency, Supertext has helped many startups go global by localizing websites, software, apps, and more. A decade after starting up in Europe, it decided to eat its own dog food – Supertext USA, Inc. launched in Silicon Valley in 2016. Kristy Sakai, CEO, talks about the challenges companies face when expanding internationally. What does it mean to have a global strategy? What should drive expansion and growth? How do you remain true to your brand or product when adapting to markets? Find out about the hard lessons learnt and why it’s still worth it.

Bio:

Kristy Sakai is CEO of Supertext USA, Inc. Born to Japanese parents, she spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California, had a few testing years in Japan before surviving adolescence in England. After graduating from the London School of Economics with a BSc in Management, she moved to Berlin. There, she honed her entrepreneurial skills as a freelance copywriter and translator, subsequently joining ADAPT, a copywriting & design agency for international markets. As Head of English and East Asian Languages, she was key to establishing the agency in the advertising industry through marketing, account management and project management. 10 years later, she joined Supertext in Zurich in its early startup stage. Founded as the first web-based copywriting service, Supertext shook up the industry with the digitalization and automation of workflows way back when projects were still being managed by email. Today, it offers copywriting, translating, localizing, editing and proofreading services in more than 30 languages for all industries. Kristy is now back full circle in Los Angeles to head up Supertext’s US expansion. Wherever she is, she remains true to her mission: to rid the world of bad copy. Because she believes the pen is mightier than the sword.

 

Twitter: @kristysakai

Email: kristy@supertext.com


Episode 16: Media Literacy 101: How Combat “FAKE NEWS”



With all the talk about “fake news” and new questions arising about what to trust — we’re setting the record straight.

Understand how the news media works. What is mainstream media anyway? Who writes and produces it? What goes into it? Who is breaking news? Where do they get that info?

Understand what news gathering is, who breaks news and what that means. How to tell if a news source is legitimate. And how to tell if a news source is not ethical.

We’re pulling back the curtain on how the news business works. We’re showing you how news is gathered, what’s at stake with every story, and how to stay informed (without getting fooled by fake news or propaganda).

The freedom of the press is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution for a reason — we’ll explain why and show students how they too can be best informed and fight against fake news and unethical sources of misinformation.

Gain a better understanding of the media landscape in 2017. We’ll reveal what are ethical, vetted sources of information, and why the freedom of the press is vital to democracy.

(This overview is a preview to a longer course series being taught at General Assembly April 24 – June 5).

 

Lori Kozlowski, Journalist, Editor, Media Exec

Twitter: @lorikozlowski

Email: lori@lorikozlowski.com

Lori is a journalist, editor, producer, and media executive, exploring storytelling in all of its forms. She produced the virtual reality documentary series Project Empathy. Previously, she served as Editorial Director at entertainment company Atom Factory, leading the company’s media division. She also co-founded Smashd, a publication about culture, music, and tech. She was formerly a digital editor and columnist for Forbes, writing about entrepreneurs, startups, and technology. Prior to Forbes, she served as a senior editor at the Los Angeles Times for five years, where she headed mobile technology, digital strategy, and emerging platforms for the media company. She has worked with MIT Media Lab startups on the merger of tech and story, and has served as adjunct faculty at Chapman University and USC. Her work has appeared in numerous national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Variety, among many others.

 

Aunny (De La Rosa) Bathe

Founder + CEO

DLR Public Relations

www.dlrpublicrelations.com

t: @aunnyd

ig: @dlrpublicrelations

Email: aunny@dlrpublicrelations.com

Aunny is a PR professional with over 15 years experience working with the media on behalf of her roster of tech and consumer clients. Aunny joined a digital marketing agency right out of college at the height of the tech boom where she cut her teeth building communications programs for enterprise software companies and large consumer brands like Virgin and Kodak. Since then, she has experienced all sides of the table working at PR agencies, managing corporate communications in-house, and consulting both small companies and established brands at every stage of business. Some of her current and past clients include, Yelp, deviantART, Project Empathy, Science 37, Talenthouse, Fluence, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, and Birdwell Beach Britches.