Episodes

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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.

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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!

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Scott Duffy is driven by one simple idea: helping people live their dreams through entrepreneurship.  He uses his media channels, speaking and best-selling books, to help people breakthrough in their lives and businesses. He’s worked with many of the world’s top entrepreneurs and innovators, and he lives in our back yard here in Orange County.

Scott started his career working for Tony Robbins, and went on to work for companies that became big media brands like CBS Sportsline, NBC Internet, and FOXSports.com. He then founded Smart Charter, an online booking tool for private aviation, which was acquired by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Entrepreneur Magazine has listed him as a Top 10 Keynote Speaker.  He’s often asked to join discussions on TV and radio stations like CNBC, FOX News, and CBS Radio. Scott is also Co-Host of “Business & Burgers, Presented by Microsoft”.

Scott has worked with and interviewed countless other world-class businesspeople and athletes – he’s way more qualified to be on Accelerate OC than I am! I tried my best to be a good interviewer.  I’m grateful that he joined us; once again it showcases just how many amazing people call Orange County home.

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Dawn Reese joined me for a great Accelerate OC conversation, and we explored her early career in the technology industry and then her transition to helping establish the Software Council of Southern California (now Technology Council Southern California) and eventually joining amazing non-profit, The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana.

She is an author, consultant, mentor, and national speaker in the areas of board governance, strategic planning, fundraising, and creative youth development.  For the last 10 years she’s been with The Wooden Floor, with most of those years as CEO.  She shared much more about this organization and its mission and impact during our discussion.

What Dawn won’t share, so I will, is that she and this organization are often honored - 2019 Women Breaking Barriers Award from Women of Influence, the 2018 Founders Award from the Institute for Community Impact, the 2016 Center for Leadership Award for Innovation from Cal State Fullerton and a Difference Makers Award from the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce to name a few.  She’s also on a bunch of other boards – they want her energy and impact there, too; such as One OC, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, The Board of Advisors at Mihaylo College at Cal State Fullerton, and Orange County Business Council Latino Education Attainment Committee.  The Wooden Floor has also been awarded as a Best Place to Work here in Orange County.

Dawn also continues a trend of guests with leadership positions in their college greek house – I’m going to have to study what it is about chapter presidents that leads to leadership and innovation later in life.

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Mike is the Regional Director of the Orange County and Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Network, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners throughout Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.  Before this role he was the director of an SBDC office in Long Beach for 5 years.

He has been and is a business owner and entrepreneur himself. He started with a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store in LA, and then opened a second location in Long Beach, eventually employing 20 people including managers at both locations.  He eventually sold the LA store and took minority position in several other locations.  He has the retail bug, though, as he has another store in Long Beach now called Sugar Daddies Sweet Shoppe.  We had a good discussion about starting as a franchisee and then developing his own brand.

Mike is an entrepreneur, working with other entrepreneurs, and managing a critical support system that our government provides to small businesses here.  He sees so much activity that I was excited to hear his important perspective and input. I learned a lot about trends in small businesses in Orange County.

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Lawrence Greaves is both an entrepreneur and investor, as well as a board advisor. Prior to being an entrepreneur he had roles in boutique advisory firms and large national consulting firms, advising on a number of large international M&A transactions.

Lawrence invested in and co-founded OPKIX in 2016. He is the CEO and on the Board today.  OPKIX makes the smartest, smallest, simplest, and most powerful little cameras and camera accessories, and as Lawrence described it, it's changing consumer habits for capturing life's moments by allowing people to be in those moments (and not looking at them through their phones).

Prior to OPKIX, he co-founded a company in 2008 and then went on to sell his 50% share of the company about 10 years later.  It was a leading provider of contract CFOs and other technical finance and accounting professionals and they opened offices all across the U.S.

Lawrence is also passionate about philanthropy as well as investing in other businesses.  We covered some of those projects and initiatives as well.

OPKIX recently won a prestigious OCTANe High Tech Award for Best Technology Innovation in a Consumer Product, and he's committed to building the company and making the products here in Orange County.  He's a great cheerleader for all the great things happening and people making it happen here in our backyard.

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Don DiCostanzo has a really cool current company, Pedego, which is also his passion. That's clear in how he talks about it. 

Don is the co-founder and CEO of Pedego® Electric Bikes, the number 1 electric bike brand in the United States, according to Navigant Research. They are sold at more than 100 Pedego-branded stores in the United States, plus in Canada and Europe. The bikes have electric motors that help riders over hills and through headwinds, and traveling up to 60 miles on a single battery charge.

The company was founded here in 2008.  I love their tagline - “Hello, Fun!”  And you’ll love the many celebrities on his website who have and love his bikes.

Don is a serial entrepreneur – he founded and invested in another company, bringpro in 2014; he also has another company in the equestrian space with his daughter. Before that he was the CEO of Zak Products and worked with auto dealers for over 5 years, and he was the president of Wynn Oil Company, an 80 year old company in the automotive industry.  

Don and I also share a life experience.  We were both presidents of our fraternities in college, a job I still consider as one of the hardest I’ve ever had.  Don's energy and enthusiasm are infectious - he's a great cheerleader for Orange County and an inspiration to other entrepreneurs and aspiring ones here.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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