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!

andrewbermudez.pngAndrew 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.

denise.pngHazime 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.

nealbloom.png 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.


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.


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!


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.”


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.


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!


Re-releasing one of the top-rated Accelerate Show episodes: Ray Grainger from Mavenlink.

He is the founder and CEO of Mavenlink, a fast-growing software company in the services business management and collaboration space.  

He’s also a graduate of highly distinguished school, Harvey Mudd College, where he’s been a trustee now for many years.

He was a Managing Partner at Accenture for nearly 20 years before starting Mavenlink, and that experience provided much of the idea kernels for starting the company.

Ray started Mavenlink in 2009, and over the last 10 years has had an amazing run in building Mavenlink, headquartered here in Orange County.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ray nearly the entire time he’s been on this journey and have been so impressed with his leadership and energy, and his support of the OC tech community along the way.

Ray has built an amazing team and company, and is doing his part to Accelerate OC!

Great quote he shared from Ernest Shackleton: "By endurance we conquer."  Such a powerful message! 

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