Tag Archives: Start-Ups

Episode 70: Space to Startup



Erin was a Dragon Mission Director for SpaceX. Then she took off around the world for a year, had a baby, and started her own business. What did she learn from her years working for Elon Musk? How did she take the leap from stable corporate employment to being self-employed and mobile? And where is Wana now, one year after Erin took the big bet on her free babysitting tech startup? Join us for an inside look at the GO from space engineer to social entrepreneur.

BIO:

Erin Beck is an aerospace engineer, scuba instructor, theatre director, and round-the-world backpacker turned mompreneur at the birth of her first child two years ago. She is the Founder and CEO of Wana, an online marketplace for family-to-family babysitting exchange. Before that, she was a SpaceX Dragon Mission Director, designing and operating the spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. She believes skills are cumulative and transferable across disciplines. She believes being a parent tops them all.


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 68: Lies and Hardware Startups



If you have ambitions to create a company, but scared because someone said that hardware is hard, allow me to prove to you otherwise. Pretty much everyone funds hardware and it can be bootstrapped. There are a lot of ways to get off the ground and I am more than happy to debunk the myths. By managing expectations and translating hardware phases to stakeholders, everyone chills out and things get produced. Trust me. Here are some things that are awesome: Kickstarter, makerspaces, Arduino, robotics, rockets, CRISPR Cas9.

Bio:

Shaun Arora is an angel investor and entrepreneur who has grown NEO Tech as part owner. He’s on the board of several successful startups, and brings his experience to help hardware startups scale and be resource efficient at Make in LA. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Shaun went to work as a cultural anthropologist for consumer packaged goods companies. In parallel he was active in starting several non-profits focused around mentoring. In 2005, he joined the electronics manufacturing business, NEO Tech, and worked to scale the business. As a result of his leadership, the business has grown 40X in that time and has over 3400 employees servicing the aerospace, industrial, and medical device industries. In 2015, Shaun official spun off Make in LA from the contract manufacturing business to improve learnings and outcomes for hardware startups. He remains a director at NEO Tech. At Make in LA, Shaun focuses on leveraging NEO Tech’s resources to support the startups, leveraging his portfolio for best practices, providing world class programming, and building strategic partnerships for the benefit of the startups.

@ShaunFromLA


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 65: The Future of Augmented Reality



Until recently, augmented reality has been the stuff of science fiction. In 1956, Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report” predicted the coming of AR as literally being able to have information at your fingertips. Like Dick’s AR display, the 1977 hologram image of Princess Leia in Star Wars is now a reality. That said, the first appearance of AR actually goes back to 1862 and the concept of Pepper’s Ghost, an illusion effect made for amusement parks and museums. In the early 1950’s, Pepper’s Ghost was used in the early development of the teleprompter.

Since then, advances in both AR and virtual reality have progressed from military uses in the 80’s such as the virtual training cockpit to today’s consumer wearables and mobile apps. The trend of heavy investment in augmented reality by Google, Apple, and Facebook are indicative that distinct from VR, AR benefits from a pre-existing install base of smartphones and is not dependent on external display systems. According to Deloitte, AR stands to potentially be marketing’s next trillion-dollar business with annual revenues expected to be almost $700 billion by 2025.

Bio:

Ziggy Kormandel, Founder/CEO of Augmently

Sagi “Ziggy” Kormandel has been an accomplished art director, creative director, 3D consultant, and digital marketer since the “dot com boom” starting in 1995. He began his career in visual entertainment as an art director with clients including many Fortune 500 and 100 companies like Universal, Nestle, Warner Brothers, and Nike.
In 2011, Ziggy founded 3DX where as CEO, he used his 18 years of experience to assemble a dream team of 3D marketing experts and secured his first patent. He has continued to successfully serve some of the largest global brands with industry leading technology and now has multiple patents.

As VP of Business Development and Innovation for ISBX, Southern California’s leading web and mobile application development agency, Ziggy brought his experience with technology innovation to a new level. To date, ISBX has designed, developed, and launched over 250 apps on iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry.
In 2014, Ziggy founded Augmently with ISBX as its development partner. The company is not only a service provider, but a creative agency that has delivered winning campaigns for many global brands. With its patented AR technology, Augmently has been recognized from Techcrunch to Apple as an innovator with the kind of patented solutions that distinguish the company in the crowded AR marketplace.
Most recently, Augmently has entered the health and wellness sector in partnership with Stayhealthy, a leader in healthcare technology since 1995. In addition to his role at Augmently, Ziggy now serves as President of Stayhealthy where he is driving a number of AR enhanced, app-based healthcare programs and solutions.

ziggy@getaugmently.com


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 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.


Episode 57: Building Collaborative Intelligence



Learning to think with people who think differently than you is what collaboration is all about. Unfortunately, collaboration goes out the window when major disagreements strike. People compete with each other, making sure their position or interests are secured first. Or they avoid the conflict altogether, which only makes matters worse. These reactions can kill an otherwise excellent business idea, simply because people haven’t been trained to collaboratively disagree with one another.

Collaborative Intelligence measures the ability of a person to: (1) respectfully assert themselves; (2) remain open to new ideas, adjusting their position; (3) understanding how the other side feels and using that as an additional data point; and (4) ultimately knowing how to work with the other side toward a solution. Born from his work training, coaching, and facilitating founder-level conversations, Bryant has developed a methodology called Collaborative Disagreement™ that builds founders’ Collaborative Intelligence capacity. His work even saved one venture-backed startup from nearly exploding after a prominent co-founder decided to quit. Now, that same startup/co-founder team is back on track with an ICO offering coming this year, having recently revamped their company culture and market strategy. Increasing their Collaborative Intelligence capacity ultimately saved them.

Bio:

Bryant is Founder and CEO of Workplace Collaborations, a conflict resolution and negotiation training business located in Los Angeles, CA. Bryant partners with startups to get a bird’s eye view of the co-founder relationship as well as the company culture to quickly assess and correct problematic behaviors and organizational inefficiencies. He trains, coaches, and facilitates high-level discussions between founders, and has worked with venture-backed and early stage startups in travel, edTech, health, e-commerce, transportation, blockchain and cryptocurrency for the past three years.

Prior to this, Bryant was a Federal Mediator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where he negotiated employment discrimination complaints in the $500,000 range. He remembers his first mediation that he conducted where a woman, who was alleging gender-based and national origin discrimination, cried when she got the result she was looking for. Upon seeing her reaction, Bryant knew he was hooked and had found his calling – the rest is history.

Bryant received his Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University, is a certified Mediator through the New York Peace Institute, and is a first-generation Mexican-American. He speaks fluent Spanish, is a proud coffee addict, and when he’s not working, enjoys nature, road biking, and checking things off his bucket list, which includes visiting a new country every year (this year he’s going to Portugal!).

Speaker email: bryant@workplacecollaborations.com