Ben Kuo has been a fixture as an evangelist for startups and innovation in Southern California for many years, and I've appreciated our nearly 20 year friendship. We actually recorded this conversation several months ago, and yet it's almost timeless, as the challenges we face in business, in startups and in the ecosystem largely persist.
Ben is the founder of SOCALTECH LLC, a company that provides regional high tech news, interviews, venture deal flow tracking, and more. SOCALTECH's flagship publication is socalTECH.com, a web site focused on high tech in Southern California. I consider Ben the tip of the spear for startup, tech and investor news in the region, and remember him as one of the first folks I met in the community when I arrived back in the early 2000s.
Before focusing on SOCALTECH, Ben was a product manager and engineer for Troika Networks, which was in storage area networks. He also started and sold a website RealEats.com for restaurant reviews, well before Yelp!
John Dearie joined me for Part 2 of our discussion on the dire need for more entrepreneurs in our country, and how his work at the Center for American Entrepreneurship is bringing this awareness to our lawmakers in Washington, DC, and how he's creating energy and opportunity for communities around the country to join in the effort as well. It's been a pleasure to get to know John in the last year, and I appreciate his leadership on this important topic. We need more entrepreneurs!
Thanks also to show sponsor, Hunt Club.
I was excited to have my longtime friends, Giorgi Chigogidze and Chris Steege with me on the podcast to discuss Purlin, their startup for personalizing the homebuying experience. They try to address the #1 problem for potential buyers - finding the actual home to buy, making that easier, more personalized and aided by AI.
We met nearly 20 years ago at UCLA Anderson, where we were not only in the same class, but same section (Go, Section B). It was amazing to now be talking about Purlin all these years later. Both of these guys have had very successful careers in finance and advertising, which we discussed, as well as how they came together around this opportunity. They’ve made great progress on Purlin, and are also navigating the startup journey and challenges as most startup founders do. I appreciated how honest and reflective they were on their relationship and personal growth through this process.
Thanks to show sponsor, Hunt Club, as well - Hunt Club is a new category of search firm that leverages the power of relationships and referrals to find you the best talent. Their technology transforms thousands of subject matter experts into the world’s most powerful talent network, a network consisting of 10,000 trusted industry leaders that refer top talent nationwide to exciting positions.
Nick Bucheleres is the founder and CEO of Grin Gaming, a startup focused on revolutionizing the way fans interact with their favorite live video content by allowing users to compete on every play of the action. Grin is now available for several eSports like CS Go and Dota, and traditional sports like the NFL, with others coming soon.
Nick is also the CTO, with a tremendous background as a machine-learning engineer at well-known LA companies like Sweetgreen and Flo Technologies. He was also an engineer at Apple earlier in his career, as well as trading algorithm developer at the Chicago Board of Trade. All of those experiences have factored into his work at Grin.
Nick is also a fellow Big 10 grad out here in So Cal, having graduated from Michigan. I’m also super excited to call him and his team at Grin partners, as we are his first investor and are actively involved with them through Operate. It's been a fun journey with the Grin team so far!
Jeremy Redman and I did a podcast crossover, and we talked about meeting a year ago, how v.one is his 3rd no-code startup and doing great, his entrepreneurial roots and thoughts, and his Not Boring Business podcast, and many other things. It was a fun conversation. I can assure you it was not boring.
If you know about the rise of no-code, you'll enjoy this chat. If you don't know what no-code is, you'll find this super interesting. Bottom line - this one is for everyone.
This is the first episode from our new sponsor, Hunt Club. Hunt Club is a new type of search firm that leverages the power of relationships and referrals to find you the best talent. Their technology transforms thousands of subject matter experts into the world’s most powerful talent network, a network consisting of 10,000 trusted industry leaders that refer top talent nationwide to their client's most important positions. If you're looking for talent, hit me up for an intro to them. They are even game to take on your hardest to fill roles. Thanks to Hunt Club!
JP La Torre is co-founder & CEO of Caylent, a managed services provider for growing software teams. We met several years ago when he was initially developing the idea. He’s a classic entrepreneur in how he came upon the idea, how he pursued it through the help of an accelerator, and how he's navigated losing a co-founder along the way, adjusting course and reaching the "survive then thrive" stage where he is today. JP is very focused on his customers and the rapid evolution of technology, and as we discuss, he helps them "accelerate their time to value" in their own businesses, which is how he creates value and long-term relationships with them.
You'll appreciate JP's passion for his customers, his team, and the technologies they work with to provide DevOps on Demand.
Larry Gulko is a brand guy. He architects them, coaches executives about them, and positions them to compete more effectively in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape...across stages and sizes of companies.
Larry founded and moderates the annual CEO Brand Leadership Roundtable at the Harvard Business School, now celebrating its 12th year. He also created and moderates CEO Fireside Chats showcasing iconic leading brands brands and their dynamic business leaders driving growth.
Larry created BRAND: NEW DAY as a way to immerse company management in brand building as an experience. We talked about that on the show. He’s been a mentor, advisor and coach to many schools, companies and organizations as well.
It was fun to have Ian back on the podcast. We talked about how important entrepreneurs are to startup communities.
Do you know what "complex contagion" is in a startup community? Listen to find out.
We discussed how networks actually operate - real relationships, showing up again and again, and providing value.
Do you care about building your startup community? Ian shared so many great insights.
Check out his book Startup Community Way . It's great!
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.
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.