Tag 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 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 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 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 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 32: Adventures in STEAM



STEAM:CODERS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, teaches underrepresented and underserved K-12 students the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Students engage in a variety of STEAM-related classes (i.e., Coding and Robotics) and field trips that allow students to learn directly from professionals – scientists, engineers and artists – and see technology first-hand. Our goal is to unlock each student’s potential for continued learning and future success, providing them with attainable pathways to academic and career pathways. We focus on developing their logic, creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Opportunity + Imagination = Innovation.

Bio:

Raymond Ealy, Executive Director, founded STEAM:CODERS in July 2014. The organization was a spin-off from the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation’s award-winning L.A.M.P. Mentor Program, based in Pasadena, CA. Ealy helped create the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program (L.A.M.P. – Leadership, Achievement, Management and Professionalism) in 2007, to provide soft skill training for underserved and underrepresented high school boys who wanted to attend and graduate from college. The L.A.M.P. Mentor Program students attend and have graduated from schools across the country (i.e., Harvard, UCLA, Amherst, UC Berkeley, Morehouse College, University of Michigan, Marist College, Loyola Marymount, Hampton University, American University, among many others).

STEAM;CODERS was created to address the demand for STEM (and STEAM) training for disadvantaged K-12 youth. STEAM:CODERS has served over 2500 students, since inception. Students have been introduced to the STEAM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The program teaches logic, critical thinking and problem solving, providing attainable pathways for academic and career success. STEAM:CODERS focuses on underserved and underrepresented students of color, who attend Title 1 schools and reside in low-income households. Access to instruction, curricula and equipment, expands their skill sets and increases their exposure to industries and careers that may not be within their vision (i.e., coding, robotics, art and design).

Ealy has over 25 years of management experience in financial services, the nonprofit and retail sectors. Past positions have included management roles with Bank of America, Countrywide Financial Services, Security Pacific Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank. Ealy currently serves on the following Boards: Innovate Pasadena, La Salle High School Board of Regents (Pasadena, CA)  and LA’s BEST Advisory Board (Los Angeles, CA). Previous board affiliations include the Pasadena Community Foundation and the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation. He received a B.A. from Florida State University.


Episode 31: Who is this TED guy anyway? And what the heck is TEDx?



The TED tagline is “ideas worth spreading,” but if you want to be one of their speakers or lead one of their events, you need to know how to make your idea stand out from the rest. As the Executive Director of TEDxPasadena, TEDxPasadenaWomen and TEDxPasadenaSalon, and as an attendee at TEDSummit in Banff, Canada, Heather Heimerl Brunold has worked with countless TEDx speakers and curators. Join this lively, interactive conversation designed to identify ways to systematically tackle this dream, step by step.

Full:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talk videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

TEDxPasadenaWomen seeks to transform the local conversation surrounding equity and access for women and girls, providing a launch pad for the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise between industries, socio-economic groups, ages, and life experiences. We believe strongly in fostering learning, inspiration and wonder — by nurturing relationships that begin though conversations at our yearly conference, but then deepen throughout the year at our monthly TEDxPasadenaSalons. We serve, engage, and empower underserved communities, regardless of gender, including women, girls, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities. Our brand collaborates with members, speakers, and community partners from all over the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys (and beyond) to positively impact business and community relationships, cooperative partnerships, public policy, knowledge, civic structures and political systems.

The goal of our annual conference (held this year at the Huntington Library on Saturday, September 30th) is to come together as a community of bright minds with diverse interests, to share discourse inspired by live TEDx talks that are idea-focused and cover a wide range of subjects. We hope the community gathering will foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and which will provoke conversations that matter.

Bio

Heather Heimerl Brunold has been a thought leader in education, specializing in adolescent development and family/school dynamics, for more than two decades, but after completing her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, Heather became passionate about utilizing her talents as an educator to impact the greater community. Feeling she could positively influence her community’s approach to how we learn, Heather established Words2Action, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage learners, leaders and educators – through spoken word and tangible action – in a united effort to change the world, one idea at a time. Heather is by her nature a helper, healer and teacher. Her passion for learning and her love of relationship building are the reasons she enjoys serving TEDxPasadenaWomen as the Executive Director/Licensee.


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/