Category Archives: News

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 52: Mentor, Advisor or Coach? What’s the Difference and Which One Is Right for You.



In the world of advice giving, how do we know we are getting something valuable? Often, our ability to move forward or level-up professionally requires assistance, but we aren’t always sure what kind of help we need. Pressure, stress, new frontiers and blind-spots influence our judgment and ability to make distinctions among service providers. It is important when engaging in new professional relationships we take some basic steps to prevent misfires and misunderstandings.

In this session, senior leadership consultant and executive coach, Dan Stover, will offer tips and guidance in choosing wisely in our engagement in professional service relationships. In his decade of providing mental health crisis intervention, emotional intelligence and leadership development services, Dan will share with Innovate Pasadena the most important considerations when it comes to finding the right help.

Bio

Dan Stover is the Senior Consultant and Manager of the Los Angeles office of Integrated Leadership Systems. His work as an executive coach and organizational consultant for entrepreneurs, mid-market and publicly traded companies increases profitability through emotionally intelligent leadership and business unit alignment.

He was born and raised in rural Ohio, lives in downtown Los Angeles and has three degrees. He is deeply passionate about mental health, community development and nature conservation. He spends his free time indulging the arts and the outdoors.


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 50: Coffee with the Mayor



Description: While Pasadena is consistently named one of the best cities to live year after year, City leaders also want to make it a great place to work. Mayor Terry Tornek and City Manager Steve Mermell will be stopping by on May 4th to check-in with Pasadena’s innovators and talk about the latest developments and initiatives happening in Pasadena. But, they’ll also want to hear from you! This is your chance to engage with local officials and share your thoughts on ways the City can make Pasadena even more attractive for business and talent.

Bio: Terry Tornek

Terry Tornek was born and raised in New York City and moved to Pasadena from Massachusetts in 1982 to accept the position of Planning Director. He was hired because of his history of neighborhood improvement and historic preservation while serving as Planning Director of Springfield, Mass. He also served as a member of the Springfield City Council. Terry was Pasadena’s Planning Director for 3 years and helped to rewrite the Zoning Ordinance, the General Plan and establish the redevelopment plan for Old Pasadena. After leaving city government, Terry built a career in real estate as a developer and manager of residential & commercial properties all over Southern California.

He remained active in Pasadena affairs through his 20 year service as a Board Member of Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization devoted to affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena.

In 2005, Sid Tyler appointed Terry to the Planning Commission. He also served as a member of the Design Commission. He was elected to represent District 7 on the City Council in April, 2009, was reelected in 2013 and was then elected as Mayor in April, 2015.

Mayor Tornek serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee, is a member of the Municipal Services, Public Safety, and Legislative Policy Committees, is the City Council appointee to the Fire and Police Retirement Board, is Pasadena’s representative to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, and is President of the Burbank Airport Authority. He is deeply involved in the City’s financial planning, affordable housing and the City’s planning and development decision-making process. Terry graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School with a degree in Public and International Affairs. He also earned a Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia University’s School of Architecture. He served in the Army National Guard and Reserves for 6 years. Terry and his wife Maria have been married for 50 years. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

Bio: Steve Mermell

Steve Mermell was appointed City Manager by unanimous vote of the City Council and assumed his duties February 15, 2016. As City Manager he is the Chief Administrative Officer of the City and is charged with supervising, coordinating, and administering the various functions of the City. He has direct responsibility for all departments, divisions, and offices of the City with the exception of the City Attorney/Prosecutor and City Clerk which are separately appointed by the City Council.


Episode 49: 13 Questions to Help You Cut Out Small Talk and Build Genuine Connections



Topic: 13 Questions to Help You Cut Out Small Talk and Build Genuine Connections

Tom Amestoy, Founder & CEO of Focus Out, talks about the missed opportunities to genuinely connect with others when we engage in “small talk.” Scientific studies have revealed that the types of conversations we have truly impact our wellbeing. These findings show that the good life is social and conversationally deep rather than isolated and superficial. Tom will tell us about groups that have banned small talk to great effect. He will offer tips on how to host such an event and will share 13 questions to start great conversations that lead to deep and genuine connections.

Bio

In 2011, Tom left a 19-year sales career for a national print manufacturer to become Director, Business Development at InnerWorkings (NSDQ: INWK), a global marketing services agency that disrupts his former industry. He quickly realized he needed to network in a new way and connect at a different level than he previously had. He found he was faking it as he was floating through rooms full of people gathered to network. He decided that there was a better way and along with his cofounder, he created Focus Out with the intention of facilitating genuine connections between businesspeople who could help each other without expecting anything in return.

Focus Out (www.focusout.co) was the first “other-focused,” pro-social business membership organization in Pasadena. The organization now has 6 chapters from Burbank to Claremont, with plans to expand to DTLA, OC, the South Bay and anywhere else networking is broken.

There are plenty of other fascinating things about Tom and he is excited to help you genuinely connect with him to find out.

Twitter: @TomAmestoy

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-amestoy-abb8093

tom.amestoy@focusout.co

thomas.amestoy@inwk.com


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 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 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.