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.
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.
Fauad was most recently the CEO of Bonti, a biotech startup that he co-founded in 2015 in an area of biologics where he saw a key need. He was right, as the company had great success and was acquired by Allergan about a year ago. Before Bonti, he was an executive at Allergan in biologics development and manufacturing.
He’s had a very successful career in biopharmaceuticals, and was at both Baxter and Regeneron before Allergan. Fauad has developed quite a reputation as an innovator and leader in the industry, and he’s already at work on his next venture, Ornovi, which he’s going to build here in Orange County.
He’s currently on the board at Biopharm, as well as OCTANe. He is a great example of an entrepreneur driving innovation and making it happen in Orange County.
Travis Lindsay is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton, manager of the CSUF Startup Incubator, and the co-founder of Titan Angels, an angel and seed investment fund based here in Orange County. He also has multiple degrees from Cal State Fullerton in areas of business and entrepreneurship.
Travis serves the community of students and entrepreneurs around CSUF to mentor and grow them and support the next generation of companies and business leaders here. He is a great example of a servant leader for innovation activity in Orange County.
Richard Sudek is the Chief Innovation Officer at UC Irvine, and Executive Director of UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Over the last 5 years there, he’s firmly established the center as a key part of the innovation ecosystem here, connected it to the OC community and what he calls an “innovation district”, and accelerated UC Irvine’s efforts in commercialization of its research and IP, and created an entrepreneurial energy and activity at the school that’s at an all-time high. He also teaches entrepreneurship at UCI.
He was previously at Chapman University as both a professor of entrepreneurship and director of their entrepreneurship center. Prior to that Richard received a masters and PhD in Management from Claremont University. He’s a former chairman of Tech Coast Angels here and has made many angel investments. He was also a successful entrepreneur as CEO of Nadek Computer Systems.
He is a great example of a leader and key stimulator of innovation activity in Orange County.
Dick Gochnauer is an amazingly busy guy. He is the co-founder of the CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County, which he and Doug Wilson created to become the clear venue for leaders of Orange County’s largest companies to collaborate on the most strategic issues facing the county. They are working together with the goals to build both a competitive ecosystem and higher quality of life for this region. Their mission is “to create a thriving OC for us all” and I think everyone here in Orange County can support that mission.
Dick has also been involved on a national level with the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, where he is a board member. He and they believe that the best-run, best-performing companies are those that do more than just maximize shareholder value - they value improving outcomes for all stakeholders.
Dick walked the walk as a leader of both large public and private companies. He is the former CEO, President, and COO of United Stationers, Inc, in Chicago. Prior to that he was the President and COO for Golden State Foods Corporation here in Orange County. He currently serves on the board of directors for several companies, including Golden State Foods, AmerisourceBergen and UGI Corporation. Dick is also a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and a lead director at a startup, Vodori.
He is a great example of an innovative and values-driven Orange County leader, and it was such a pleasure to have him on Accelerate OC.
Tony 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 this year 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 last year 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!
Scott Hamilton is the President and CEO of Executive Next Practices Institute, which he started here and over the last 10 years has provided advisory and thought leadership to thousands of senior executives around the globe. ENPI is a partner with universities such at UC Beall Applied Innovation, Pepperdine, and ASU, research organization Gallup, and corporate members in over 2000 companies.
Scott is also a board member for many other for-profit and non-profit companies. He’s also CEO of Nextworks Strategy, which provides innovation programs to align organizations and leadership teams for peak performance and revenue growth.
Prior to founding or getting involved in these organizations he was a successful practitioner as an executive at DirecTV, Nestle, Amerisource Bergen and Honeywell.
Scott has been super committed to and active in Orange County for many years, and ENPI has helped raise the knowledge and capability of many of our local business leaders. He does a great job of bringing business leaders in our community together. I had a great time at one of his recent events on corporate governance, where I participated in a mock board meeting. He is a great example of an innovative Orange County leader.
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.
Shawn was one of my most energetic guests. He is the co-counder and CEO of Givsum, a startup helping charities and service clubs to embrace the digital age. He’s getting good traction and has an ambitious vision for the company, which we talked about in this episode.
Prior to Givsum, Shawn co-founded Future Leaders of Our Community here in Orange County, which he built into an organization that connected thousands of young professionals with each other and inspired them to get involved with many OC non-profits. This work was very important to uncovering the opportunity for Givsum.
Shawn has a Masters in Divinity & Theology and was a pastor for a number of years earlier in his career, before the entrepreneurial fire led him to start Givsum. He also has a background and undergraduate degree in radio broadcasting, so, in reality, he should be the one leading the discussion, instead of me. He also has a great podcast series called American Philanthropy that you should check out.
Shawn is living the mantra of doing well by doing good, and is also one of the scrappiest entrepreneurs I’ve ever met. We always have a lot to talk about! He is also committed to building his company here in Orange County and has tapped into some great local talent. I'm excited to be an investor in his company, and supporting his efforts to Accelerate OC.