Tag Archives: Entrepreneurial

Episode 29: Future of Personal AI + Pasadena as a start-up location



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.

Bio:

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/


Episode 28: William Hung from American Idol fame: From Obscurity to Prosperity



Are you looking to make your own unique impact in the world? How do you find your unique identity? If you want to improve sales and be more successful with your business, then you are in for a treat! William’s presentation will show how you can:

– Break their mental barriers to success
– Build your business by following your true passion
– Embrace your identity and stop worrying about the perceptions of people around you

Bio:

From his experience working in the entertainment industry and overcoming rejection, William Hung learned the importance of perseverance to make dreams become reality. After American Idol, he appeared on Extra, Ellen, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, to name a few. He also recorded 3 albums for KOCH records and his first album, “Inspiration”, was the #1 independent album on Billboards! Also, he appeared on numerous commercials, including AT & T, AskJeeves.com, and Jack in the Box. His fans celebrate the impact he has on their lives.He now hopes to help YOU maximize your potential and wants YOU to achieve YOUR dreams as an inspirational speaker. Audiences include business groups, associations, and conferences.

 

Twitter handle: @wh53

Speaker email: info@williamhung.net


Episode 25: How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace



How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) takes a frank and honest approach to examining what women are doing to hold ourselves back in the workplace, and how we can compete on a playing field designed by men to reward their achievements.

Using relevant studies in evolutionary biology, anthropology and sociology, as well as examples from her life as a securities lawyer, investment banker, Internet executive and screenwriter, Valerie Alexander explains the evolution of the “gendered” brain and the corporate structure, showcasing and dissecting areas where women’s natural tendencies prevent us from succeeding in male-designed workplaces.

How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace tackles a difficult subject with candor, humor and confidence — and two of those traits are actually welcome in the workplace!

Bio:

Valerie Alexander is a speaker, author and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Goalkeeper Media, a tech start-up that builds communication bots to amplify happiness. As a speaker, she works with companies and organizations seeking to grow and succeed by making happiness a priority in the workplace and ensuring that female professionals advance and thrive.

Her books on Happiness, Success, and Success for Women can be found on Amazon.com, and she owns the U.S. Registered trademark on the phrase, “…as a Second Language” for self-help, personal growth, self-esteem and motivation.

Valerie has also worked as a screenwriter and film director, a corporate securities lawyer, an investment banker, and the VP of Business Development for two internet start-ups.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their ill-mannered German Shepherd, Pepper.


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 20: Business, Risk and Pants-Free Mindfulness



A few years ago, most of us would have thought of “sensory deprivation” as some kind of unique torture experience. But Jim Hefner saw an opportunity for both personal, and business growth, all sans pantalon. Jim will share his experience discovering floating, and turning that discovery into creating the world’s largest sensory depravation center in Pasadena.

After a lifetime of using business to fuel his passions, Jim found himself at the center of a seismic life shift in which opportunity, fatherhood, and mindfulness coalesced. The result was Just Float, the world’s largest and most advanced float center. Since his very first float, Jim has been convinced that floating is a powerful tool for mindfulness and healing, and his journey has placed him in contact with a diverse and committed community of people who are out to prove it.

This journey has been marked by intensely stressful, risk-filled and sometimes overwhelmingly dark moments. But through a lifetime of survival, business experience, outdoor adventure, and inner exploration, Jim has found himself uniquely poised to not only revolutionize an industry, but to profoundly re-shape himself as well.

Bio:

Jim Hefner is co-founder and visionary of the world’s largest float center, Just Float, located in Pasadena, CA.  He is also a fledgling psycho-naut, serial entrepreneur, MBA, adventure athlete, husband and father, who also happens to be rabid about floating and creating the perfect float environment. Throughout his life, he’s been drawn to hobbies and experiences that require perfect commitment to the moment. Whether on a sheer rock face, a mountain bike, a wave, or in a float tank, what matters most to him is the sacred experience of flow, of absolute attention, and freedom from the noise of everyday life.

 

Twitter:  @justfloat


Episode 19: Startup Failure Is Not What You Think



This talk explores new ways of looking at failure in the World of Startups. Failure is being presented not as a possible outcome, but rather as a mile-marker that all Startups go through. Specifically it covers a concept of “unfail” or “unfailure”, where Startups try to “unfail” every element of their business on their way to success.

It also examines importance of failure, in its traditional sense, as it pertains to Startups, and analyzes reasons why failure is so common. It emphasizes how Lean Startup principals are connected with failure scenarios and lessons learned.

Bio:

Before Co-Founding Raken, Sergey served in capacities of Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer and Chief Product Officer. Sergey is a serial entrepreneur co-founding multiple successful Startups focused on Small Business Marketing and eCommerce. Last Startup co-founded by Sergey was acquired by Capital One in 2014. Sergey specializes in implementation of subscription based high volume SaaS platforms, with strong emphasis on early stage product development, product marketing and customer acquisition. Specific areas of expertise include User Testing, A/B Testing, Marketing, Big Data, Video Management, eCommerce, RTB platforms and Cloud Computing.

Sergey has B.A. in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego, M.S. in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool. Ph.D. in Information Technology Management from the School of Business and Technology, Capella University.


Episode18: Doing Business in the Face of Growing Uncertainty



Our technology, business models, geo-politics and a not too distant inter-planetary (inter-reality) life are all growing in complexity and uncertainty. The age old profit-wage correlation is one of the many lagging indicators that most of our ways of economically and socially operating no longer hold as they did. Volatility creeps up in most facets of our lives at whiplash pace. And there’s no going back. In this talk we will cover what we think are the require tools to thrive in uncertainty and what we think is a new form of worldwide literacy that must be developed: Computational Literacy.

Computational Literacy is a new set of skills that combines data science, algorithmic thinking, AI/Machine Learning enhanced pattern recognition and probability assessments. The ingredients are all there for every person on earth to become literate in a computational perception. The complexity of data sets and the relationships between time, people, resources and economics have grown beyond any Newtonian model of the world or our most basic sensory apparatus. That is, no single human using only their common 5 senses and little elbow grease has the capacity to assess many important decisions on a daily basis – everyone, and especially businesses, need to develop a new literacy that unlocks much larger data sets and much more robust probability assessments of possible outcomes.

This talk will cover the functional definition of Computational Literacy, make a case for its relevance through examples and showcase the already available tools and devices to make anyone, particularly a business person, fully computer literate. There will be live interactive examples using real world phenomena and real world data.

Bio:

Russ is a co-founder of Case Zero (case0.com), a machine-learning data platform that automates market and product development for startups and SMB companies. He is a 17 year veteran of consumer internet and large scale data intelligence platforms. He has started several companies. He has been part of a successful IPO as well as a handful of private acquisitions. He has led several large distributed technical, product and marketing teams.

– Currently a mentor for TechStars Austin, providing strategic guidance to start-ups and TechStars managing director

– Serving as advisor and technical strategist for Thisway Global and Smarter Sorting Inc.

– In 2013, Russell and his wife founded Acton Academy Venice Beach,  a k-12 alternative education school focused learner driven education

– Named “Top 100 IT Executive” by ComputerWorld Magazine for his work at TrueCar.com where he led the creation of and managed the team and tech for the world’s largest, most sophisticated automotive industry data platform

– Deep relationships with executives at Facebook, Experian, Neustar, Hortonworks, Wolfram Research and many other large data and media firms

– Has given several talks at conferences like LeadsCon, Hadoop World and Semantic Web World as a recognized expert in large scale data platforms

– Past presentation videos: Data is the Only Marketplace  |  Behind The TrueCar Data Platform

– 2016 included talks at Google HQ and Hadoop World Business Track

– Has held business, technical, product management and BI leadership positions at Wolfram|Alpha, TrueCar, IAC/Citysearch, Business.com Grind Networks and several large internet content companies. He has a track record of intense business intelligence driven decision drive by the enthusiasm of an entrepreneur and the patience of an investor

– Previous strategy and execution engagements include Hachette Filipacchi Media, Alpha Media Group, Vizio, DrPhil.com, Carney Inc, Sony DADC and more

– In late 2015 Russell Retired from TrueCar and launched a successful visual and fine arts career. In his first year he held 3 exhibitions, wrote a book, sold 74 paintings and continues to produce art on a daily basis. His upcoming work will be seen in Portland, OR in association with Vertigo Productions in April 2017. His art and philosophy can be found at www.worksonbecoming.com . Additional writing and essays on technology and culture can be found at www.socialmode.com  (a bit of an older blog)

Russell has run all aspects of a media and awareness strategy and execution – both as a first party operator and as a third party consultant. Additionally he has helped create several large scale search engines, social media platforms and analytics platforms currently in use by hundreds of millions of people.

Twitter: @un1crom


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 11: The Five Smartest and Dumbest Things I did as a Founder



The Managing Director of Techstars LA shares the story of her journey as an entrepreneur.  She will talk about how she transitioned from a McKinsey consultant to a tech founder, how she raised money, grew her company and sold it, and the mistakes she made along the way.  She’ll also provide an overview of the new Techstars LA accelerator program and how she’s applying what she learned as a founder to helping other entrepreneurs.

Bio:

Anna Barber is the Managing Director of Techstars LA, an accelerator program that is part of the global Techstars network.  After graduating from Yale and Yale Law School, she started her career as a corporate lawyer focused on public company transactional work and spent two years at McKinsey as a strategy consultant to retail, media and financial services companies. She served as VP Product at Petstore.com and two other early stage e-commerce companies, before transitioning to Los Angeles where she started a talent management firm and produced two feature films.  In 2006 Anna sat next to a woman on an airplane who became her business partner in her next startup, Scribble Press. Anna was most recently GM and VP Partnerships at Fingerprint Digital, after exiting Scribble Press to Fingerprint. During the past decade she has served as an advisor, strategy consultant and coach to many other entrepreneurs, with a focus on product roadmap, commercialization, business development and financing.

She loves the concept-to-launch phase, go to market strategy, fundraising strategy and growth planning.  In her coaching work she focuses on building high performance teams and helping founders grow with their companies.  She believes in the power of storytelling and creating harmony between personal and company goals.  Find her @annawbarber.

email anna.barber@techstars.com


Episode 09:Entrepreneurship and the razor-thin difference between success and failure with Bill Cullen



Are you an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial?

Is there a difference? Aren’t both innovators, promoters, builders, leaders, passionate, persistent and dedicated?

Being a successful entrepreneur starts with who you are. If you’re forced at gun point to walk a tight-rope between two New York skyscrapers, do you ask for a safety net or not?

Entrepreneurship is identifying, evaluating and exploiting an opportunity. It could be a solo project or something on the scale of Google or Uber.

But a new venture isn’t always an innovative idea to meet a need the consuming public didn’t think they had. It can be as simple as looking at an old idea or method in a new way. A case in point, good companies are always singling out people who are “intrapreneurial” because inside ventures are driven by the need for innovation to add sustainable competitive advantage and economic value.

So why do some businesses succeed and others fail? David Drucker says it’s usually due to poor management, not because the idea was bad although that’s certainly a factor. While there’s no substitute for skilled and experienced management when the going gets tough, there are several other critical success factors besides good science and technology such as attitude, patience, people, good habits and timing. We’ll explore these in depth with many real world examples of success and failure and what made a difference.

 

Bio:

Bill Cullen is a highly respected executive with 40-plus years of C-level experience in media, mobile, consumer products and advertising businesses. He is actively engaged as an adviser and board member specializing in strategic positioning, financial management and complex business dealings for early-stage and middle-market companies including a well recognized travel comfort products company a long-established sunglass brand, both enjoying rapid growth in worldwide distribution.

Previously, he has led a leading mobile marketing company that he sold to a competitor, served in various executive officer capacities including Chairman and CEO of a publically traded, enterprise software developer, a long-form advertising company that he helped organize and grow from inception to serve approximately 30 million cable television households, and founded a news programming project for Cox Communications, Inc. He held various high level leadership positions in the cable television industry for two decades and was recognized for a record of innovation, industry progress, and marketing excellence.

Mr. Cullen began his business career in banking and has held several senior finance positions in a wide variety of businesses including professional sports, real estate, restaurants and consumer, industrial and commercial finance companies.