A behind-the-scenes look at company building from the perspective of builders themselves - this is how we operate! With host Carey Ransom.
It was a pleasure to welcome John Bradley Jackson to Accelerate OC. JJ, as his friends call him, is an Investor, Professor at Cal State Fullerton, Author and Startup Adviser. He is the Director of the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship and he’s also the Director of CSUF Startup Incubator. The CSUF Startup Incubator helps startups validate business models. JJ is a Professor at CSUF where he teaches Social Media, Entrepreneurial Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Commercializing Technology, New Venture Creation and Launch. He is the Founder of Titan Angels, an Angel and Pre-Angel investment fund based in Orange County where they fund very early stage companies and ideas. JJ is also Founder of The BirdDog Group, a consulting firm that specializes in helping small to medium sized firms with marketing, sales, and strategy. He’s also an Author of "Socially Close: Social Media Marketing for Small Business", "Déjà New Marketing: Increase Sales with Social Media, Search Marketing, E-mail Marketing, Blogs, and More" and "First, Best, or Different."
He is a board and advisory board member of a number of companies and area organizations, such as Junior Achievement, the SoCal committee for the Olympic Games and the LA Venture Association.
I so appreciate his can-do attitude and commitment to paying it forward to others in the community, as he works to connect, enable and help so many here.
May 05 2020
Lori Seal has an amazing story, incredible leadership philosophies and such thoughtful perspectives on life, business and people.
She is currently CEO of Blytheco, a leading national reseller of software that she took over from the founder, Steve Blythe, at the beginning of this year. He had been CEO for almost 40 years, and he hand-picked Lori! Prior to that she was the company’s COO for 6 ½ years.
Lori was also a longtime executive at Sage, an enterprise software company here, so she’s been in software and technology longer than many of our audience members have been. She has a lot of wisdom to share from her years there in a number of various roles.
In between Sage and Blytheco, Lori had her entrepreneur experience for a year and a half, leading an e-commerce SaaS and services provider. We had many good conversations during that season.
Lori is one of the most enlightened leaders I know here. She’s so caring about her people and shares her gratitude with them every day, and she’s committed to helping each person be their best and reach their highest potential. I see her developing each person into the hero of his/her own story. There is so much to learn from her in this conversation.
Oct 31 2019
Peter Polydor is the founder of Eureka Building and Eureka Hub, a 3-acre event, office and creative campus that many of our community has enjoyed and visited in the last 6 years since it opened. Peter’s vision was to support the startup community here with it, and it has. Eurekafest is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship that is one of the few can’t miss events in Orange County.
Peter joined me for our first remote conversation on Accelerate OC, in front of an audience of several dozen of our friends - this one at the OC4 Venture Studio in Costa Mesa.
Peter is also the President of Ergo Holdings, an investment group focused on Property, Technology, Workspaces and Diversified Investments in the US and Canada. Peter is an honorary professor, a venture capitalist and real estate investor. And he started out at one of the few local venture funds based in Orange County, Sail Venture Partners, where he quickly rose through the ranks in his few years there.
He’s been a fast-mover for a long time, winning awards like Power 30 under 30 and the Greek 40 under 40. He’s built companies and a successful investment firm. He has strong ties and experience here in Orange County, and also a perspective we can learn from as he's spent considerable time in an innovative global city, Toronto. We talked about those similarities and differences in our conversation as well.
Jan 03 2020
Neel Grover is currently the founder and CEO of Indi, a software as a service video platform to help brands engage their customers and enable "individual commerce" (where the name Indi comes from). He shared more about Indi and how the opportunity came to him in our conversation. Before Indi he was CEO for a couple well-known e-commerce companies, Bluefly and Buy.com, and he’s been a board member for several other companies and advisor to both companies and private equity firms.
Neel started his career as an attorney, and we talked about his transition from elite firm, Brobeck, to the tech startup world, and he always felt like he'd go into the business world.
Neel has also been in Orange County for awhile, and graduated from UC Irvine, where he played on the tennis team. He's still an elite level competitive tennis player. Neel is a great example of a world-class leader raised here in our back yard.
Dec 20 2019
Michael has been an active member of the tech community here for many years as an investors, advisor, mentor, coach, cheerleader and entrepreneur. He has been one of the most active and available people to startup entrepreneurs in Orange County. He started the business incubator Fast Start Studio in 2012, which we talk a lot about on this episode.
He’s active with Tech Coast Venture Network, TIE Orange County, Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Entrepreneurship, and he now teaches there as well as at Irvine Valley College.
Before all of that he was a super successful entrepreneur as the founder of AIM Mail Centers, which he started, grew and ran for 25 years before selling it in 2011.
Michael is an amazing guy and inspires me every time we meet.
Sep 05 2019
Nick Kovacevich is the Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of KushCo Holdings, a publicly-traded company providing ancillary products and services to businesses operating in various industries, including legal cannabis and CBD. It was formerly known as Kush Bottles.
Nick became CEO 5 years ago and has grown the business dramatically – from under $2M to nearly $150M in sales and the team from less than 12 to more than 250 people, as well as diversified the business into five categories and operations in multiple states and countries. For a non-tech company, that is still tech company growth rates!
Prior to KushCo, he helped co-found another successful company here, BigRentz, a leader in online commercial equipment rental. He remains on their board today. He also has a number of other business holdings.
I have to note that he was captain of his college basketball team at Southwest Baptist University, which was a dream I always had growing up in Indiana, playing basketball. He was also a great student there, graduating with high distinction.
Like prior guests at Accelerate OC, I think he was born an entrepreneur. He had his first business shortly after college, joining a friend (and now longtime business partner) in one called Pack My Dorm, which they successfully sold in 2010.
With KushCo, Nick has become an expert on the cannabis industry, and he speaks and writes about it often in mainstream media and at events. We had a good discussion about the value of developing industry expertise as an entrepreneur.
Nick and his team have a front row seat in the evolving and fast-growing cannabis industry. No matter how you feel about it, it's an exciting and dynamic industry with a lot of change in it.
Nov 09 2019
It was a lot of fun to welcome Lori Torres to Accelerate OC to share her amazing journey with Parcel Pending, a company she founded in 2013. She was the founding CEO and remains in the role today, and I could hardly imagine anyone else ever replacing her!
Lori grew the company to over 150 people and thousands of customers around North America. She sold the company in January of this year to Neopost, a global company based in Paris. Prior to Parcel Pending she was an executive at The Irvine Company, where she oversaw a huge apartment portfolio. Lori had a very successful career in commercial real estate before becoming an entrepreneur.
Lori also has a great story in that she raised a significant amount of her early investment from a group of local investors, particularly folks in Tech Coast Angels here. They were greatly rewarded when she sold the company! Lori and Parcel Pending are a great example of a local entrepreneur and local investors working together to build a great company and achieve a great outcome. And hopefully they’re now reinvesting here in Orange County in the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Lori learned a ton through this process, as she’s shared with me, and she also had a lot of help along the way, which she talked about during our conversation. She’s also continued to grow Parcel Pending post-acquisition, so we talked a bit about life inside a bigger company after an acquisition.
She’s a great example of a world-class leader here in our community, accelerating things in her industry, her business and in Orange County.
Dec 18 2019
Niall McSheffrey is currently Managing Partner at Elementz Ventures, a new VC fund here in SoCal. He is a successful entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in startup investment, product management, application development, and creating digital product strategies and solutions. He moved to Orange County in 2019 and is in the process of raising capital for his first fund. Hear how he's navigating this current environment.Niall excels in developing digital product strategies with clients, leading sales and marketing efforts, and defining the vision and direction of a company. He is an expert in creating long lasting relationships and thoroughly supporting his clients throughout the design and development process. He's been at the forefront of leveraging new technologies for Elementz, including mobile and web apps to better serve his clients’ business needs.He graduated from the Thunderbird School of Management with a global MBA. He brings his expertise and experience around the world by engaging with different audiences regarding mobile app technologies, agile processes, and team development. It's great to have Niall here to help Accelerate OC!
Apr 25 2020
It was very timely to have my friend, Carson Lappetito, on the show. He is currently the President of Sunwest Bank, an OC-based business bank started 50 years ago by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Sunwest is active in Orange County and works with businesses from startups to multi-national corporations. Carson is also innovative in how he thinks about technology in the banking industry and even rolled out an online application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ahead of almost every other bank in the country. We discussed that as well as how the bank is responding to the current COVID19 crisis.
Carson is a banker, and also an entrepreneur, and I laugh since often those 2 things seem to run counter to each other. He’s worked in a variety of roles with numerous financial institutions. He is also an investor in other businesses and was part of a hedge fund focused on investment opportunities in the financial services industry. We’re both transplants to Orange County with our Economics degrees, so we’re kindred spirits there, but he’s way smarter - he also studied Political Science and got a minor in Mandarin.
We covered a lot of ground around fintech innovation, banking, the economy and the current stimulus program. Enjoy!
Apr 15 2020
Steve Pfrenzinger is a successful multi-time entrepreneur, hall of fame angel investor and long-time executive coach specializing in self-awareness and how it can become your X-Factor for success. Currently he is the head coach of the self-awareness mastery series that he’s developed, as well as his own mastermind to work with executives and entrepreneurs. Steve has been coaching for over 3 decades with hundreds of successful clients at companies like Sony, Disney, Broadcom, Oracle and beyond.
Along with that he was also the founder of 2 very successful technology services companies. He’s built and sold these firms, so he’s been there in the humble and risky beginnings all the way through to growth phases. He’s also written and spoken extensively in areas around coaching, as well as personal branding, personality type, and how to better manage your mindset.
Steve is also a long-time angel investor as part of Tech Coast Angels and was even named to their hall of fame, with his amazing track record of investing. His super power, he says, it starts with picking the right jockey.
I also spoke with Steve about personality typing, an area I’ve had great interest in for a long time, and one that he has a lot of experience and expertise in, such as Myers Briggs and DISC. We covered a lot of ground and he shared the feedback that changed his life, as well as some great stories and wisdom.
Apr 29 2020
Sean is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Association or IMA, which since 2001 has been one of the largest organizations for professionals across business disciplines in marketing, creative and development, and has been an active network, with over 1 million members!
Sean is also a principal at Epic Insurance Brokers, where he provides business insurance products and consulting, while also helping to foster a culture that’s been recognized as a best place to work both regionally and across the insurance industry.
He’s also a founding member of the International Executive Council, which came out of IMA’s roots and has attracted an amazing group of leaders who share passion for tech innovation and their personal and professional growth around it.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Sean this past year, and appreciate his passion for entrepreneurship, innovation and making Orange County a leader in those areas. Through his work at IMA and IEC, he’s definitely doing his part to Accelerate OC.
Sep 12 2019
Beckham Thomas is the Founder and CEO of Dealer Credit Resources, a Software as a Service business in the commercial equipment financing industry. Think about a small business buying a truck or piece of equipment for their office, that they’d like to get payment terms to break up the cost, usually from the dealer or manufacturer. It's a trillion dollar per year market in the US - yes, it's that big!
Beckham started the company last year after continuously seeing the need from the market. He’s been a partner in a commercial lending business here for a number of years. Beckham has also been an entrepreneur and investor in other ventures, which have helped shape how he looks at building businesses. As example he’s a partner in a fast-growing restaurant chain here, Sessions West Coast Deli.
He’s an over-achiever: he’s currently getting an executive MBA at Wharton, and he already has a law degree and his pilot’s license. Beckham, is there anything you can’t do?!?
Beckham is an Orange County native and is committed to building an innovative, disruptive and purpose-driven company here. He’s a great example of an entrepreneur making it happen in Orange County.
Oct 15 2019
Nicole McMackin is currently the CEO of Irvine Technology Corporation, an award-winning Information Technology Solutions and Staffing provider with roots in Southern California. For over 20 years they have helped local and national companies with technology personnel needs, provided through their seasoned technologists, recruiters and support team. Consistently ranked as one of Orange County’s Best Places to Work, ITC focuses on the quality of our people, commitment to customer service, and exceptional performance. ITC is also a Women Owned and Certified (WBENC).
Nicole is a leader who loves to develop others on her team and help them achieve their goals. We’re kindred spirits as we both started our careers in sales. She quickly became a top performer in her first company, and was a leader in providing staffing to a group of larger clients, as well as managing a team of account managers. Many of her clients are Fortune 300 companies.
She is also active in promoting women in technology roles, even starting a Women in Leadership CIO development program at UCLA last year. We talked about it during our conversation.
She is a SoCal native and is a graduate of the UC Irvine, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
Nicole is a great example of a world-class leader here in our community, accelerating things in her industry, business and in Orange County. It was great to have her on Accelerate OC!
May 02 2020
On this episode of Accelerate OC, we get to hear from Cary Breese and his journey from software engineer to insurance company executive to tech startup CEO, and his current venture, NowRx.
Cary is currently the co-founder and CEO of NowRx, a tech startup in the pharmacy experience industry. Using improved logistics, intelligence and analytics, the company is saving the health care industry cost and improving patient adherence to prescriptions. NowRx opened its first pharmacy in Northern California, yet is led by a team from Orange County. Their latest one is about to open here.
Prior to NowRx, he was CEO at Genie DB which went after Amazon Web Services in the DB as a service (DBaaS) space. He was also an executive at several insurance businesses, including a marine one he acquired out of a larger financial services firm. He began his career at Lockheed Martin as a software engineer.
We met several years ago when we were both in the middle of navigating our respective startups and I really enjoyed our conversations.
Cary is also a community guy here in Orange County and has been involved in youth sports and mentoring other entrepreneurs. He is the model for the type of innovator we need many more of here – making things happen in his business and in the community.
Our conversation went fairly deeply into fundraising for startups and particularly, equity crowdfunding, which has been a key part of the NowRx fundraising formula so far, and it's been quite successful. They are currently raising their Series B on SeedInvest, a leading equity crowdfunding platform.
Oct 23 2019
Dan Rodrigues brought so much wisdom and perspective to our discussion today. I loved how reflective he was on his entrepreneurial journey. To share a bit about Dan –
He founded and is the CEO of Kareo, a SaaS company here in Irvine in the health care industry. Kareo is providing a kind of "medical office in the cloud" for independent physician practices. He and his team have over 50,000 customers in every state and have grown rapidly over their history.
Dan has raised over $100M in capital and has over 600 employees at Kareo. He recently added a well-known entrepreneur to his board of directors, Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing Dan for over 10 years and we’ve talked a lot about the company and his personal journey over the years. He certainly shared a lot of that in this conversation, and I hope the listeners appreciate how open he was with them.
Before Kareo, Dan founded or co-founded a couple other companies. He began his career at a couple well-known software and Internet companies, Visio and Real Networks, after he graduated from UCLA. Go Bruins!
Dan is a cheerleader for Orange County and has built a big family (5 kids) while building Kareo, so he’s super busy! And so is his amazing wife, Kate!
Dan's words of wisdom at the end were 3 things: "You've got to love what you do, and where you do it. (that's how you'll persevere through the challenges you'll face) You really have to be honest with yourself about the opportunity, and your true north star to believe in. And you have to have the tenacity and resilience to overcome. (often the entrepreneur gives up on the business instead of working through it). With those 3 things, you can be successful." Great perspective and advice, Dan!
Sep 08 2019
I was super excited to have my friend Grant Van Cleve join the conversation on Accelerate OC. We got to hear about his amazing journey and he shared his wisdom about both investing in startups and leading one, as well as his thoughts on Orange County as an innovation community.
Grant is currently the CEO of Buy It Installed, an exciting and fast-growing company that automates the process of getting a professional installer to a consumer around a purchase that requires it. In our conversation he shared how he got involved.
He’s also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the premier angel investor group in the country, with over 400 members in the 5 Southern California chapters. Formerly he was the president of the Orange County TCA chapter, and he’s been a super active investor, in which I’d actually say active is an understatement! How many investments, boards and advisor roles he’s managing is incredible.
Grant is an inspiration to many of us here who are working to build a more inclusive, open and connected innovation community in Orange County. Grant lives that way every day and his leadership is so authentic. I always feel like the group or conversation is better and enriched when he’s a part of it.
Oct 17 2019
Dan Heinfeld is currently the President of LPA, a leading national architecture firm, and he has been there for over 30 years. He leads their design and sustainability initiatives as well. LPA has more than 400 people in 6 offices in California and Texas. Their Orange County office, in Irvine, is right in the middle of one of the "innovation" areas here - University Research Park - and right next to Acorns, CloudVirga, Ready at Dawn, and the Beall Center for Applied Innovation at UCI, to name a few of his neighbors.
Dan is an architect with a strong sense of duty to leave a lasting impact on the built environment and has been focused on sustainability long before others did, combining that with design excellence. LPA has one of the largest portfolios of LEED certified projects in the US and has earned hundreds of awards for their designs.
LPA has led the way in adopting energy reduction and efficiency in their buildings, even creating their own Irvine office as a living laboratory for design, redevelopment and energy reduction. Dan was the recipient of the 2018 President’s Award from the American Institute of Architects-Orange County chapter in recognition of his contribution to local architecture.
Dan clearly leads by example with his innovative spirit. And while I tend to focus on innovation here in Orange County in areas like software, technology has infiltrated architecture in so many ways that I bet I can’t even appreciate. Dan and I talked about that and how technologically savvy today's talent is in his business. He is another great example of a world-class leader here in our community, accelerating things in his industry, his business and in Orange County.
Dec 05 2019
Kurt Johnson is currently the founder and CEO of FreightPop, a cloud-based software that makes logistics simple. They give one login for all transportation management, including inbound and outbound freight management across all different freight types.
Kurt is a grizzled startup veteran, with six startups. He’s gone from his garage to $100M in revenue. He’s had 2 two exits and two acquisitions. He’s received the E&Y entrepreneur of the year award. And he tells me that with FreightPop, this is his last one. And to him, his most important. He founded Horizon Technology over 20 years ago in his garage and did PC refurbishing and parts distribution, and guided the company to twenty years of consistent growth and profitability. He also reached $100M in revenue with it, as I mentioned earlier.
Kurt is passionate about building an inspiring culture and builds an environment of opportunity and engagement. He’s created an employee Hopes & Dreams program, he requires all new staff to complete our ten-week leadership training class and gives all employees paid time off to volunteer in their community.
He’s also a smart guy and learner, having graduated college with high honors and recently taking a data science class at UC Irvine. There was so much to learn from this conversation!
Dec 04 2019
Andy Fathollahi joined me on the show and immediately delved into the reality of being a founder and longtime entrepreneur. He’s a serial one and done it here in Orange County. He foundedIncipio here over 20 years ago and is still Chairman of its Board. He’s also founder and CEO of his latest venture, The Kanvas Company.He is currently the founder and CEO of the Kanvas Company, a cannabis technology company. We talked a lot about how to start and build a second company after a super successful one, with different perspective, culture and lifestyle goals, as well as how to attract the right kind of people today. As example, Andy has instituted a 4-day work week.
Prior to Kanvas he was founder and CEO of Incipio Group, which he started and grew here super successfully, until selling a majority of it to private equity in 2016.
Andy was a great guest and shared a lot about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and the different perspectives he's had as time has gone on in his journey. I loved his views on himself and what he'd advise others, based on his 25 year old self, 35 year old self and 45 year old self. Similarly we both have had a hard time taking off time in between adventures!
Feb 05 2020
Peter Nguyen is the founder and CEO of Ad Exchange Group, based in Irvine. It is a leading direct-to-consumer digital performance-based agency, reaching $100M in revenue in less than 2 years in business. Both Peter and the company have received many awards for growth and entrepreneurship from people like Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Ernst & Young, and the Orange County Business Journal.
He’s also the founder and CEO of Push Innovation, a leading logistics and service provider to direct-to-consumer brands. Push has over 100 employees and ships tens of thousands of products every day. Another of his ventures, Chargeback360, is also growing rapidly.
I'll speculate and say that Peter was born an entrepreneur, as he started a web design and development firm while he was still in college in Florida many years ago. He’s started a number of businesses, including an educational one to help others launch their own product or service online. Baylor University adopted it as a class and it's been a student favorite there for many years. He’s been here in Orange County for about 10 years and has done business all over the world.
Enjoy some amazing stories, perspective, wisdom and advice from Peter!
Nov 01 2019
Nick Cromydas is the co-founder and CEO of Hunt Club, a new category of search firm for talent, using technology and intelligence, plus a big trust network, to build a new way to do recruiting for startup and growth companies. Over the last 5 years, he’s been through a great entrepreneurial journey that we discussed on the show.
He is also the founder of New Coast Ventures, which both invests in and co-creates new companies. We both have worked closely with founders and in the early stages of company creation and building, which we talked about as well.
Nick has been active in the Chicago startup scene for a number of years and we recently realized how many mutual friends we had in common there. He’s also a tennis player, and coach, and we talked about how that has shaped him as an entrepreneur, investor and leader.
Nov 24 2020
I felt his energy and excitement from the start - David Meltzer joined me with me on Operate and we had a great conversation.He lives by 4 key principles: gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication—and these principles have allowed him to communicate and mentor everyone from college students to c-suite executives. These four principles in everyday practice allow David to live by his mission to “make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.”
He’s the co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing with Hall of Fame quarterback, Warren Moon. He’s a podcast host, frequent speaker, business coach, investor and author, to name a few. Every time I’ve been with him or seen him speak, he’s present and generous. It’s impressive and inspiring and I felt it once again during this episode.
His life’s mission is to empower OVER 1 BILLION people to be happy! This simple yet powerful mission has led him on an incredible journey to provide one thing…VALUE. In all his content and communication that’s exactly what you’ll receive. He's hosted a free coaching session every Friday for over 10 years - you can find more out about it and register to attend for free on his website.
Nov 18 2020
Luke Cooper is the founder and CEO of Fixt, an innovative mobile device support and repair business that he sold earlier this year (for 11 times revenue!). Over the last 7 years, he’s been through a great entrepreneurial journey that we discussed on the show. Luke is the kind of entrepreneur and leader that makes you lean forward and pay more attention - his honesty, authenticity and clarity were inspiring. He shared a lot of wisdom that new and current entrepreneurs can immediately use, and anyone building and leading a team should appreciate.
His personal stories that have shaped him were powerful, and once again illustrated the importance of storytelling in how we build relationships and connect with each other.
Luke also had a great background prior to Fixt – having been a lawyer at one of the largest firms in the world, in-house counsel at a large financial services firm and strategy lead for a tech startup that grew and successfully exited. I'm super excited to now count him as a friend, and one that really knows how to operate!
Nov 16 2020
Nick Bradley is Co-founder and Director at Fielding Group, a growth accelerator and investing company. He's been a business owner & investor who has built, bought, & sold multiple businesses over the last decade. He also spent 15+ years with corporate organizations - as a CEO, Board Director, & senior commercial leader - working in both large & small companies all over the world.
Nick loves to work with ambitious entrepreneurs, with the sole purpose of creating value from growth and scale-up. He also works with a select number of Private Equity firms, advising on strategic investments & acquisitions.
He's also the host of Scale Up Your Business podcast and has developed a great show.We had a wonderful crossover podcast discussion about the future of entrepreneurship, venture capital, the roles of different groups such as venture studios and growth advisors, etc. Enjoy!
Nov 12 2020
John Dearie joined me to discuss the critical need for more entrepreneurs in our country, to drive forward more economic growth, innovation and jobs in our country. He is currently the President at the Center for American Entrepreneurship in Washington, DC. John founded this organization in 2017 as a nonpartisan research, policy, and advocacy organization. CAE’s mission is to engage policymakers in Washington, and at state and local levels, regarding the critical importance of entrepreneurs and start-ups to innovation, economic growth, and job creation – and significantly improve new business formation, survival, and growth.
John has studied the history of how economic development, job and innovation growth, and entrepreneurship has evolved in our country, and has pulled together an amazing group from across the country to advise CAE in its efforts. We now have the first ever caucuses in both houses of Congress on the topic of Entrepreneurship, which has led to much more energy around new key pieces of legislation to spur more entrepreneurship and innovation.
Prior to CAE, John was the CEO of Financial Services Forum, a policy organization formed by the CEOs of the largest US financial institutions. He also was at the Federal Reserve Bank in NY for almost 10 years, including several years as an officer of the bank.
John and I hadn't discussed it previously, but he attended a rival school in Indiana, Notre Dame. In fact they often don’t claim Indiana as their location. Thankfully we don’t play them in football – but we usually have our way with them in hoops.
This conversation is important to everyone in this country as we look ahead to the profound changes in our economy in coming years, and how we create more prosperity and opportunity for as many people as possible.
Nov 03 2020
Ian Hathaway has been a founder, an investor, an author, a professor and an advisor, just to name a few roles he’s played. He’s currently an executive at Techstars, a fellow at Brookings Institution, a board member at the Center for American Entrepreneurship and recently co-authored a book, The Startup Community Way, with his friend, Brad Feld. Ian is the type of thinker, connector and advisor that we need in our country to help us better understand entrepreneurship, investment and how we transform our economy to one more focused on innovation.
I am so excited to share our chat with you as Ian can cover a lot of ground. We both love data and have had some fun geeking out a bit lately on some economic and jobs data. This is part 1 of 2 - enjoy!
Oct 31 2020
Anthony Saba is currently Executive Director at Samueli Academy, an amazing charter high school in Santa Ana that uses an innovative, student-centered approach to education. As a public charter school, it’s available for all students and no tuition fees. The students can even take high school and college classes at the same time. Their new facility includes on-site housing for foster youth who need a stable living environment to excel academically. They’ve recently added junior high as well. We talked about the school’s journey, as well as his, on the show.
Anthony came to Orange County almost 10 years ago and I had the pleasure of meeting him shortly after arriving here. He has nearly 2 decades of high school experience (both in the classroom and in administration) plus a passion for involving students in the learning process. He says: “My teaching philosophy is to allow students to take an active, hands-on role in their learning,” and we talked about how the school focuses on that learning approach, and is getting amazing results.
The Samueli Academy’s mission is - "To ignite the passion within all students to reach their greatest potential through a nurturing and innovative learning environment."
Anthony also says “I think it is especially important in the 21st century that we don’t just teach students WHAT they need to know but show them WHY they need to know it.” We talked about how important it is to provide the why and the context for learning.
We have an innovative high school and leader in our community in Anthony. He's another example of the world class people here who are shaping lives and accelerating our collective futures.
Oct 19 2020
Andy Wilson is currently the Executive Director of the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, a group formed to pull together the talent and ideas in all of SoCal to help more innovators to emerge and succeed in bringing their breakthroughs to the world. We talked a lot about the mission and activities of the Alliance on the show.
Andy has also been an executive in a number of venture-backed, high-growth companies, such as Yahoo!, as well as an investor, advisor and startup community builder. He was co-founder of Innovate Pasadena years ago, and he’s currently a city council member in Pasadena.
He cares deeply about this region of the country, and helping, connecting, inspiring and encouraging others to participate and support each other. His leadership and friendship are things I greatly appreciate, and you'll see from the conversation that we can talk for hours about our excitement for all that's happening here.
Oct 15 2020
Katrina Ghazarian is founder & CEO of Gameday HR, an HR solutions provider to small and mid-sized companies. She recently renamed the company to reflect the perspective they have - "IT'S GAMEDAY... EVERY DAY. We're changing the way the world thinks about HR." They offer both hands on consulting and an online subscription service. Katrina unveiled the new name and her views on HR, people leadership, culture and other topics in our conversation.
She is also an advisor to the Professional Collegiate League, which works with college athletes to enable them to directly benefit from their talent and marketability. This is a very interesting topic, which we discussed on the show.
Katrina is also a working mother and formed a consulting firm around that several years ago. That eventually became part of EVA8, the prior name of the company until now. She is also a partner in an LA community initiative called 5D United, to help with health and wellness in children in under-served communities.
However, I mainly invited Katrina on the show to share how she beat out her other 5th grade classmates to be named the funniest (as it says in her LinkedIn profile). Did you have superlatives in your 5th grade class?!? She’s also a great podcaster with her own, called "HR Sucks", so I was hopeful that she’d have some pointers for me. We had a lively conversation across these many topics - enjoy it!
Oct 06 2020
Neal Hansch is CEO and Managing Partner at Silicon Foundry, a membership-based innovation platform for corporations, enabling them to connect, learn and invest in the innovation ecosystem, such as in startups and with each other. He and his team have helped advise and drive forward many corporate venture capital, venture studio and other innovation activities. He’s been very active in connecting corporations to startups and innovative thinking, which we discussed on the show.
Additionally, we spent a lot of time talking about how corporations and startups translate their different languages, and how companies need multiple strategies to be innovative. Neal and I could talk for hours!
Before Silicon Foundry, Neal ran an incubator for Meltwater Group, which included building bridges between high tech entrepreneurs in emerging markets like Africa with Silicon Valley. He trained over 200 entrepreneurs, and invested in a couple dozen startups, including helping them access accelerator programs like Y Combinator and 500 Startups.
He was also a venture capitalist at Rustic Canyon Partners, which was a longstanding LA-based VC with several funds. Neal has been a great friend for a long time – it was so fun to have him on the show!
Oct 02 2020
Andrew Bermudez is founder and CEO of Digsy, a commercial real estate search and marketing engine. He often calls it "Zillow for commercial real estate." He started it a few years ago after a successful career as a commercial real estate professional.
Andrew and I met and became friends when he was first conceiving the idea of what became Digsy. He has been through the process of raising capital, making hard choices and pivots in his startup, and many other challenges of being an entrepreneur. We explored many of those topics and his personal development as an entrepreneur on the show.
He also has been active in the community in trying to connect and help other entrepreneurs. Earlier this year he joined the Cal State Fullerton center for real estate as a board member as well.
Sep 28 2020
Hazime is the Founder of Prodoscore, a SaaS startup that provides productivity intelligence. Leveraging ML, AI, and NLP to measure thousands of daily activities across cloud tools already in place (like your office suite, CRM, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Communications, etc.) Prodoscore creates visibility and drives performance and growth. They’ve seen a big surge during the last 6 months as sales teams have mainly been moved to remote, distributed home offices. She's leading a growing distributed team and "eating her own dog food" at Prodoscore. We talked about that a lot on the show when she recently joined me. Prodoscore also closed a Series A round of funding in May. Troy Carter, famed investor, and entrepreneur, led the round.
Denise was previously Chief Revenue Officer of VIWO, one of the first Google Apps for Business providers, so she’s been in the cloud business application world for awhile.
She's clearly a good writer, too, as a multi-time author and member of the Forbes Business Development Council.
And like me, Denise is a Midwest transplant to Southern California, as she grew up and spent a long time in Michigan.
Sep 25 2020
Schedules aligned and I finally was able to have Neal Bloom on Accelerate Show to compare notes about startup community building in San Diego and what he's learned by participating in some other SoCal communities.
Neal is CEO of Rising Tide Partners, a PR and communications firm in San Diego. He’s also founder of Fresh Brewed Tech, which publishes both a newsletter and podcast about all things tech in San Diego. He also launched Fresh Squeezed to cover all things tech in Orange County, and I appreciate him for trying to bring some coverage and order to everything.
He is a successful entrepreneur as well, having co-founded an edtech talent and learning management company, Portfolium, which was acquired by Instructure a few years ago. Prior to that he worked in the space industry for a leading manufacturer and coordinated their work with their main client who you may have heard of, NASA.
Neal is an active investor in startups, through Tech Coast Angels and some of his own efforts, and he’s taught courses on entrepreneurship at UC San Diego as well. He’s a key fixture in the San Diego startup scene. We had a lot to talk about across his main 3 jobs - entrepreneur, investor and community builder.
Sep 18 2020
It was super fun to have Jenny Dinnen with me on the Accelerate Show. She is currently President, Sales & Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. For over 30 years, MacKenzie has been turning analytics into action and using data-driven insights to help companies to strengthen their customer experiences. As businesses have turned to more of a customer focus in recent years, or ignore it at their peril, Jenny is on the front lines of that work.
Jenny has been with the business for a dozen years, which is actually a family business. Her father started it in 1985 and now Jenny and her sister, Katie, run the company. I can certainly relate, given my family business background, and there are a lot of great family businesses around here, which we discussed.
She is also active in the community with Team Kids, as well as both Chapman’s business school and Cal State Fullerton's. Jenny is a dynamic, creative leader and we had a conversation that spanned topics from the importance of data, customer insights and being customer-focused, family business, and the business ecosystem of Southern California.
Sep 14 2020
Per is General Partner at Welinder Shi Capital, an investor in lifestyle, culture and technologies around it. Why, might you ask, would Per be good at finding and seeing opportunities there? We’ll talk more about it in a bit, but if you’ve been around awhile and followed action sports, his name might be familiar. In a prior era, he was a really good skateboarder, a key part of the Powell Peralta skate team.
Per has been a prolific entrepreneur and executive as well, as an action sports entrepreneur – he was CEO of Blitz Distribution, in the heart of lifestyle brands, for over 25 years, and he’s an active mentor, advisor and investor in startups.
Per is also a fellow UCLA MBA, Go Bruins!
Sep 09 2020
It's been a true pleasure to get to know Tom Ferry over the last year. We both have a passion for entrepreneurs and startups and interviewed each other for perspective and stories. If you don't know Tom, he's a force of nature and #1 coach for real estate professionals. He's also CEO of Ferry International, and a markeing and social media maven.
We did a podcast crossover and talked about what entrepreneurial traits and skills entrepreneurs need to succeed, the difference between a side hustle and a business, having an open mind to create new plays that work for your business and the necessary steps you have to take to promote and encourage entrepreneurship in the community.
6:47 – What makes a good founder? Listen to find out!
10:06 – These are the mistakes to avoid when giving your business pitch
21:22 – Maybe you should start a side hustle that can ultimately create a breakthrough in the long run!
24:55 – It’s going to be really hard if you just start with $0 when starting a full-time business
29:20 – Are you clear in your customer needs and does your business have legal help?
32:30 – Always be on the lookout for new plays to implement in your business
35:53 – How the financial crisis of 2008 impacted startups still to this day
37:55 – “I see a renaissance on the horizon.”
40:44 – Why the next big wave will be created by the collective intelligence of people
42:26 – “The education system of today is built on a manufacturing economy… we’ve been pushing manufacturing out of this country for decades.”
45:28 – Why imagining “the complete opposite” might help you resolve a challenge
53:45 – Steps being taken to promote and encourage entrepreneurship
56:44 – The importance of seeking mentors who are further down the path you want to travel
58:30 – A valuable reality Mike Vance taught Tom: It’s hard to get the lesson from an experience you’re not having
1:03:07 – “Give a huge amount of value to the world, and you’ll live a great life.”
Sep 02 2020
Jessica Oslo joined me on Accelerate to share her journey to becoming an entrepreneur with Vantis Institute. It was a fun story to hear, and highlights how creative, driven entrepreneurs emerge.
She is a founding partner and clinical director for Vantis Institute in Newport Beach. She explained more about Vantis and the innovative aesthetic work they do in our conversation. For the last 10 years she’s worked alongside some of the most elite plastic surgeons in the US, and what I found fascinating is that she’s found a way to combine her passion for art and medicine at Vantis.
Jessica is also a living kidney donor, which is an incredibly generous act.
Aug 30 2020
Tony and I spoke last year about the amazing company he was leading and building here. He is the co-founder and CEO of Restaurant365, which he started in Orange County in 2011 and over the last 8 years has built the company into a leading back-office solution provider to restaurants. Earlier in 2019 the company raised $88 million in a series C funding round. His world class investors include ICONIQ Capital, Tiger Global Management and Bessemer Venture Partners.
The company won the best ERP SaaS Award in 2018 and has been recognized in a number of other industry awards as well. Tony has been a finalist for Ernst & Young’s entrepreneur of the year, as well as received other industry and entrepreneur accolades. He’s very humble about the company’s explosive growth and success, though.
Prior to Restaurant365 he was a key member of the team and board member at Dynamic Methods, a Microsoft-focused reseller and solutions partner.
Tony has been in Orange County for over 15 years and is building a company of significance here. He also has good perspective on OC vs. other tech centers as he opened an office in Austin a few years ago. He is a great example of an innovative Orange County leader. One of his many words of wisdom in this conversation was "fist bump the messenger." Listen and learn what that means!
Aug 27 2020
Kate Buckley joined me on the Accelerate Show to discuss premium domains, a topic not discussed nearly enough around startup and brand conversations. She is the CEO of Buckley Media where she specializes in Premium Domain Sales & Acquisitions, Domain Strategy Consulting, Naming and Branding.
We had a super engaging and exploratory conversation about why premium domains are so valuable, how a founder might want to think about their name from the earliest stages, and the many different ways to engage premium domain owners (there are several). Her expertise is unquestionable, and she had some great stories to share. It definitely got me to think more strategically about name, brand and domains.
We also had some fun discussion about our backgrounds as we grew up in Indiana (me) and Kentucky (her).
For additional background, Kate has personally brokered millions of dollars in both private and publicly-recorded top domains sales. She brokered three of the world's Top 25 domain sales in 2018, as well as three of the world's top domain sales in 2017. Most recently, she brokered the 7-figure sale of Chocolate.com.
Aug 11 2020
Jeff Gardner joined me on the Accelerate Show to discuss what he's been doing as the new President and CEO of CalAmp, a local company that has always been a pioneer in IoT and connecting the mobile economy. He’s been on their Board for over 5 years, so he knows the company well and has a strong vision for its future.
Through their hardware and software they have enabled others to track, trace and manage their assets more effectively, such as vehicles in a fleet. One of the brands that you may recognize that they own is LoJack, which has helped many people recover stolen cars over the years. They have over a million customers and track over 20 million products where they are installed. We talked about their roots, innovation and solutions today and into the future.
Prior to CalAmp, Jeff was the President and CEO of Brinks Home Security, a well-known national company home security solutions. He was also President and CEO at Windstream for 10 years, a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company, which had been a part of Alltel, where he was the CFO. He’s also been heavily involved in M&A and technology throughout his career.
I did my best not to hold it against him as Jeff graduated from my college rival, Purdue. It's great to now have him in the area, accelerating a leading technology company!
Aug 01 2020