Category Archives: tech

Episode 74: Buy Vs. Build



Entrepreneurship through acquisition is gaining popularity and provides a compelling business case for new and experienced entrepreneurs.

In recent years the practice of buying and operating small businesses as an entry into entrepreneurship has gained popularity, as well as generated significant capital gains for those who practice it. Even institutional investors have started to recognize the significant upside of investing in the small business space. Bryan Cambra will walk through his personal experience purchasing a small business in 2018, discuss some of the strategic aspects to consider during the process and present a case for why “M&A” is the single most valuable skill set an entrepreneur can develop.

Bio:
Bryan Cambra is a marketer and business leader working for small to midsize companies who has helped others build their businesses for over a decade. After years of research and trying to work the intrapreneurship route, Bryan finally made the leap and purchased his own company, Blue Pacific Yachts a CA Yacht Brokerage, in the latter half of 2018. Bryan is an advocate for acquisition as a core business strategy.


Episode 73: Changing the Conservation Conversation!



Less than 1% of the earth’s water is potable and suitable for our survival. Today, we are using up those resources faster than they are naturally replenished. By the year 2050 we will see the world population grow by 50%. Compound that growth with increased standards of living and
increased per capita usage and there is a disaster in the making. As agriculture and residential water consumers battle over water rights, residential consumers will win in the short term. Will they really win in the end?

If we do nothing, our grandchildren will be faced with famine and lack of water on a global scale. Droughts like we are experiencing in the 9 western states give us a glimpse of what a future with limited potable water would be like. In a recent 5-year period, water prices increased
41%. Energy prices are rising at a similar rate. Fines for “bad behavior” are more common, but ineffective.

The only way to truly solve this dilemma is to make water conservation second nature. What are the characteristics of such a solution? Can we access the solution on a personal level? Come to the Friday MeetUp at Cross Campus on 1/18/19 to learn what you can do to join the
movement toward intelligent water and energy solutions.

Bio:

Kerry Austin-Dunkijacobs – Disruptor for Good l Inventor l Water Conservation Advocate l Co-Founder l CEO
Epiphany Shower US l Intelligent Green Products
www.epiphanyshower.com

Kerry Austin-Dunkijacobs is a problem-solving visionary that creates solutions that are unique, simple to use, and provide uncompromising performance. A “conscious capitalist,” I listen to the spoken and unspoken needs of all the stakeholders that impact the products and
companies that I envision and bring to life.

By focusing on Disruptive Innovation that creates widespread product adoption and continued enthusiastic use by consumers, I envision products that are so effective and aesthetically pleasing that they become the standard by which competitive products are measured.
My most recent product, the Epiphany!™ 1000 Digital Flow Optimizer, brings this philosophy to the Bath and Shower space. Saving a typical 50-60% in water and energy use, this device delivers Conservation without Compromise™, Benefits without Sacrifice™ and Savings without Effort™.
Vision must be complemented by the ability to execute. The most critical component of execution is the ability to identify the right talent to move a project along from the earliest concept stages through product development and on to marketing, manufacturing, distribution and customer service. The team we assembled at Intelligent Green Products and Epiphany Shower US brings together a unique blend of product development, business development, marketing, and finance needed to create successful products in today’s rapidly evolving markets.


Episode 69: Raising VC for “Deep Tech” Startups in Southern California



Embark Ventures is a pre-seed and seed stage fund focused on “deep
tech” – companies with proprietary and highly defensible technology
that is a strong competitive barrier. Particularly interested in
cyber-security, robotics, advanced manufacturing, materials, and
bio/med tech but open to other opportunities that have a highly
technical/proprietary core. We invest early (generally first
institutional round) with check sizes between $250k and $1M typically.
Most of our companies are pre-product, and our goal is to get them to
first customer/revenue on our round of financing. Will discuss the
Southern California eco-system for “deep tech” startups and bridging
the gap between R&D and engineering

BIO:

Peter Lee is the Founding Managing Partner at Embark Ventures, a seed
stage venture capital fund based in Los Angeles focused on “deep tech”
companies in industries such as robotics, advanced manufacturing, and
cybersecurity. Prior to entering venture capital, he was the VP of
Product at a venture backed startup in the digital media space. Peter
was a manager with McKinsey and also worked as a product manager at
Microsoft. Peter earned his BS and MS at MIT, and an MBA from Harvard
Business School.

https://twitter.com/ptlee


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 66: Ghosted



People often dream of moving on from their corporate job to start their own “thing”. This often includes the hope that they can do something better for the world then what they are doing for the corporation. We will cover the good, bad and ugh-ly of making the transition from the corporate world to making a difference through social entrepreneurship.

Bio:

Sean has been active entrepreneur in both his corporate and personnel life. After graduating from Rice University with a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship he came to LA to start a unique journey. Since early in his career from working with Simpson’s and Butterfinger to being a professional entertainer he is always on a path less traveled.
He has worked in various start-ups including Great Domains (the original seller of .com as real estate), a Joint Venture around world’s largest ring tone retailer, to innovative roles in corporations such as VeriSign where he helped establish the first global enterprise messaging platform.

The sale of these companies has generated 10’s of millions of dollars. During this time Sean became a “dog” person. He says it just happens you don’t know when, but you know it happened.

Each year 31% of adoptable animals in the US are euthanized. He had volunteered with various animal welfare groups and saw an opportunity to bring his skills to bear in helping save more animals.

In 2015, he started My Buddy’s Place, a new software company with a very simple business model with an initial focus on rescue dogs, but a very big idea: help rescue become more efficient through an easy to use platform that helps all the people that care for these animals throughout their lives.
The company has continued to innovate and now offers a marketplace where pet parents can shop a curated selection of premium, healthy and natural brands, with 6% of their purchase going directly to a non-profit rescue or shelter of their choice. They can help save animals in need just by taking care of your own. With thousands of animals saved through the platform and the highest donation rate in the industry the goal of making a difference in lives of rescue animals and the people who love them is alive and well.

#ShopforGood, @mybuddysmarketplace (Instagram)


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 62: Workplace Happiness is Your Best Business Strategy



According to Gallup, American employers lose $450-550 billion a year by failing to create positive corporate cultures that foster accomplishment, autonomy and appreciation in the workplace.

Employee Unhappiness leads to:
• Higher turnover
• Excessive absenteeism
• Poor customer service
• Theft
• Workplace bullying and violence
• Increased workers compensation claims
• More on-the-job injuries

…and a myriad of outcomes that have no line item in the budget, but still reduce productivity throughout the workplace. Engagement, job satisfaction and worker happiness matter to the bottom line.

This talk will give employees and managers the skills to create a positive work environment through simple adjustments and practices anyone can do, no matter the workplace. Whether in an office, a hospital, a restaurant, classroom or construction site, these techniques work!

In the U.S., the average loss due to unhappiness and disengagement is $3,500 per employee per year. When it comes to happiness, is your workplace above or below average? Can you afford to let it stay that way? Make happiness a priority in your workplace today, and reap the rewards tomorrow.

Bio:

Valerie Alexander is a renowned expert on happiness and inclusion. She is the founder and CEO of Goalkeeper, a tech company that builds micro-social platforms to amplify happiness, whose first product is Super Happy Couples. Valerie is the author of the Amazon #1 seller, Happiness as a Second Language and a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of personal happiness, happiness in the workplace, and the advancement of women. Prior to her current work, Valerie was a securities lawyer, an investment banker, a V.P. of Business Development for two companies, and a screenwriter and film director. She can be found at SpeakHappiness.com and invites everyone to watch her TED talk, Why We Must Train Our Brains to Expect the Unexpected.

https://twitter.com/speakhappiness, #SpeakHappiness


Episode 61: The challenges of scaling a technology group



What are the challenges of scaling your technology company or your technology group in a technology driven company? Lessons learned from the front line. Beyond slogans, fads and beautiful articles written by smart people from top consulting companies.

In this brief presentation, Israel Ben-Ishai will share with you what he learned from many years of experience scaling technology groups as a leader and from the last five years as a consultant, coach, and mentor.

Some of the questions Israel will attempt to answer are:
– How does one take the initial innovation and market success to the next phase of operational success?
– How do you scale your organization, technology, processes, and people?
– How do the great agile principles, and mindset scale when you grow at today’s high speed and confront some of the business realities?

Bio:

Israel is a Mentor, Coach, and advisor to leaders in technology and technology-driven companies and their investors.

After a long career as an engineer, engineering manager, and technology executive Israel decided to dedicate his energy and knowledge to mentoring new generations of technology leaders and consulting with growth companies and their investors.

Israel’s has many years of successful experience in people development and scaling organizations in the software industry.
In addition to his vast engineering experience, he embarked on a coach training program with the Coaching Training Institute (CTI).
Israel is now a mentor and a coach to leaders in small and large companies and advises CEO’s CTO’s and CPO’s on scaling their organization and developing their people to adjust and be successful as the company grows.

In his advisory capacity, he undertakes interim part-time roles as CTO/ VP of Engineering and helps organizations set up and scale their organization and hire key leaders. Israel holds a Dottore degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy and completed extensive Executive Management training at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. He is also a Certified Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada.


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.